Citizens Advice Bureau offers live insight into British life

“how can i find out for free if my father is dead”

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The Independent Online

Despite its broad name, the Citizens Advice Bureau keeps itself mostly to money and legal advice. But a new tool from the charity shows that the British public wants a lot more from it too, including whether employees should be fired and why England’s benefits system exists, often communicated with questionable spelling.

A new page offers live searches and data on how people are getting to the CAB’s website, including a stream of the search results that are directing people to the site.

Most of the UK’s searches are sad and dull, if important — ‘redundancy procedures’, ‘how much will pensions increase in april?’ — but others offer a powerful insight into the British psyche.

One user had searched this morning for “how can i find out for free if my father is dead”? Another asked “should I fire Ed Douglas”.

The searches are often small insights of what seem like much larger stories, like the six word story supposedly written by Ed Hemingway: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’.

One user asked for “a letter to comlain about a city”, exhibiting the spelling problems that are part of many searches. “i think my letter got lost in the mail”, wrote another.

Some users wanted answers to questions that are probably too big for the CAB to answer. “why should england have benefits,” asked one.

Other were stark and mysterious: “Death” was all someone typed in the internal search bar.

The page also gives live statistics on how much the page is being used, showing traffic falling to almost nothing overnight but picking up again into the morning. The site shows the amount of users in the past minute, which peaked at 332 in the last 24 hours.

The page also gives a list of trending content. Basic rights at work is the most accessed page, with 15,839 unique visits. The rest include ‘If you need more help’, ‘Benefits and tax credits for people in work’, and ‘Off work because of sickness’.