Monthly Archives: January 2019

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CAB News 11 January 2019

Friday 11 January 2019

Citizens Advice has responded to Amber Rudd’s announcement last night that she plans to scrap the two-child limit on Universal Credit and will slow down the migration of the benefit system.

National

Universal Credit

Limits on universal credit child payouts to be scrapped

The Times, 11/01/2019, p.2, Sam Coates

Amber Rudd plans to scrap the two-child limit on Universal Credit and is expected to confirm that the “managed migration” of benefits claimants will slow down.

Gillian Guy said: “…Universal Credit has to work in practice as well as in theory. We welcome any move to make it a more flexible system.”

She added: “The government will need to go further. This means investing more in the benefit so people have enough to live on and don’t have to wait five weeks for a first payment.”

The story is also covered in Yahoo News and the Huffington Post Blog.

Kayley Hignell, Head of Policy for Families, Welfare and Work, spoke with Radio 4 on The Briefing Room. She explains Universal Credit, warning that it is posing issues for those with a disability or health problem.

Loyalty Penalty

Probe builds pressure on insurers to end ”loyalty penalty”

FT.com (subscription required), 10/01/2019, Oliver Ralph

The outcome of the Financial Conduct Authority’s study into the “loyalty penalty” could force insurers to stop overcharging loyal customers to fund discounts for newcomers.

Matthew Upton, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice, said that the regulators should focus on “price walking” – gradually increasing the price of cover every year.

He adds: “The average home insurance customer who has been with the same insurance company for 5 years is paying 69 per cent more than a new customer.”

Energy

Gas and electricity smart meter costs could rise even further, MPs told

The Independent, 09/01/2019

The increasing cost of the smart meter rollout to households could become “potentially even greater” amid a “real information gap”, Citizens Advice Head of Future Energy Services, Dhara Vyas, told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS).

Dhara added: “We have been asking the department for an updated cost benefit analysis.”

This can also be read in Mail Online, Energy Voice, and Amed Post.

Debt

Citizens Advice calls for introduction of a bailiff regulator

Morning Star Online, 09/01/2019

A bailiff regulator should be introduced as people are being put off lodging complaints by a complicated and frustrated system, Citizens Advice has said.

Nearly three-quarters of people who experience a bailiff breaking the rules do not complain as it can be hard for people to complain.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, also called for an independent complaints process.

This story was also covered on BBC Radio 4’s World at One (39 minutes).

Regional

Debt

Winter Well-Being: Financial

ITV.com, 10/01/2019

Malcolm Ferey from Citizens Advice Jersey gives his top tips on how people can look after themselves this January. Malcolm says: “Being in debt is incredibly stressful, it’s a real health and wellbeing issue,” he advises people not to “bury their heads in the sand.”

Employment

What to do when your employer goes bust

BBC Radio Humberside, 10/01/2019, 10:41:40

Ray Davis from Citizens Advice Hull gives advice on what to do if your employer goes under and does not pay your wages. He advises people to contact the Insolvency Service who can give you your owed statutory wages from the National Insurance fund.

In other news

Record numbers of patients are not getting vital cancer care on time as NHS England performance against waiting time targets falls to its lowest ever level.

The number of NHS and local government bodies with significant financial weaknesses unacceptably high and increasing, according to National Audit Office.

Three million new social homes must be built in England over 20 years to solve the “housing crisis”, a new Shelter report says.


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System allows bailiffs to get away with rule breaking, says Citizens Advice

Image result for bailiff breaking rules

Friday 11 January 2019

Bailiffs are not being held to account when they break the rules because the complaints system is complicated and intimidating, according to new research from Citizens Advice.

Figures obtained by Citizens Advice from the Ministry of Justice show just 56 complaints were made through a court-based process introduced as part of the bailiff reforms in 2014.

In the report – The Rules of Enforcement – released today, Citizens Advice also reveals 72% of people who experience a bailiff breaking the rules do not complain at all.

Interviews with advisers and people who have sought help from Citizens Advice shows people do not complain because:

  • It is unclear how to make a complaint

  • The pressure of bailiff enforcement action puts people off complaining

  • There is a lack of faith in the process

Previous research from the national charity revealed bailiffs broke the rules 850,000 times in the past two years. The lack of an effective complaints system means bailiffs are not held to account.

The report is released on the same day MPs are set to debate bailiff regulation and receive a response from a justice minister.

As part of the “Taking Control” group on bailiff reform, Citizens Advice is calling on the government to introduce a bailiff regulator and establish an independent complaints process.

Government reforms introduced in 2014, which included rules for bailiffs to obey, have not worked because they have not been properly enforced, the charity says.

There has been a 24% rise in people coming to Citizens Advice with bailiff problems since 2014.

The charity helped one person make a complaint after a bailiff aggressively pursued a parking fine that actually belonged to their son, who didn’t live at the home. The money was eventually refunded, but only after 18 months by the enforcement agency’s independent adjudicator.

In comparison, the Financial Conduct Authority for example requires firms to resolve all claims within 8 weeks.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Bailiffs are getting away with breaking rules designed to protect those who’re struggling.

“The complaints process is complicated and frustrating. People lack faith in a system where you’re required to complain to the bailiff’s firm in the first instance.

“Bad practice by bailiffs is widespread and causes stress, anxiety and further financial harm. The government has said it wants to end this for good and to do so, it must bring rule-breaking bailiffs into line by establishing an independent regulator.

“Alongside this, the Ministry of Justice should introduce an independent complaints process. It’s important complaints are reviewed independently of the bailiff industry and outside the court system.


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CAB News 4 January 2019

Image result for 2019 year of the pig saving money

Friday 4 January 2019

Our new year debt advice has been featured in the Sun Online.

An advice column to send to your local media on new year debt can be found here.

National

Dealing with new year debt

Sun Online, 03/01/2019, Imogen Blake

Our debt expert Lorraine Charlton was quoted in the Sun Online that offered readers advice on how to get on top of their debts in the new year.

This included making sure you contact your creditors, if you find you have multiple priority debts, to negotiate a way of repaying the arrears.

Lorraine said: “Always pay first priority creditors who are taking action against you.”

Employment

Bank Holidays 2019: How to get EXTRA days off work using Bank Holidays in 2019

Daily Express, 03/01/2019

The Express Online featured our advice for employees about their bank holiday entitlement for the coming year.

“If your place of work is closed on bank holidays, your employer can make you take them as part of your annual leave entitlement,” our advice says.

“Some employers might give you bank holidays off and pay you for them on top of your annual leave entitlement. This will be outlined in your contract.”

Energy

Households spared energy price rises as cap kicks in

The Times (subscription required), 01/01/2019, p2, Emily Gosden

Our comment on the introduction of the energy price cap on New Year’s Day was picked up by the Times.

Despite the cap, which could save some consumers £76 a year, shopping around and improving energy efficiency of homes are the best way to cut down energy bills.

Gillian Guy said: “The introduction of this cap will put an end to suppliers exploiting loyal customers.

“However, while people on default tariffs should now be paying a fairer price for their energy, they will still be better off if they shop around.”

Regional

Universal Credit

‘It’s very difficult for people’

BBC Radio Humberside, 02/01/2019 (1hr in)

Ray Davies, from Hull and East Riding Citizens Advice, was also interviewed about debt and Universal Credit on local BBC radio.

On Universal Credit, he said: “When it’s processed there’s still a five-week minimum, a five-week gap where you don’t get any money, and that’s very, very difficult for people who have nothing to back themselves up.”

In other news

The bosses of the UK’s biggest companies earned their average worker’s annual salary in just three days.

House price growth has hit a six-year low.

Train passenger groups have expressed anger as ticket prices rise 3.1% on the back of the worst punctuality rates in 13 years.


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Energy cap means “fairer” prices, but consumers should continue to shop around, says Citizens Advice

Friday 04 January 2019

As the energy price cap comes into force, Citizens Advice is reminding people that they should still be able to save money by shopping around and the cap doesn’t limit their total bill.

Commenting on today’s introduction of the cap, Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“The introduction of this cap will put an end to suppliers exploiting loyal customers. However, while people on default tariffs should now be paying a fairer price for their energy, they will still be better off if they shop around.

“People can also make longer-term savings by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Simple steps, such as better insulation or heating controls, are a good place to start.”

Citizens Advice price comparison site and supplier star rating

To support customers to save money on their energy bills, Citizens Advice provides an independent price comparison site and a customer service star rating which ranks suppliers’ customer service.

How does the cap work?

The cap limits the price people pay for each unit of energy that they use. It does not limit their total bill – they’ll still pay more if they use more energy.

If a person is eligible for a price cap they don’t need to do anything – it will be applied automatically by their supplier.

Who is eligible for the January 1 tariff?

People won’t be eligible if they are on a prepayment meter or if they chose their current tariff.

If neither of the above apply, people should qualify for the cap.

How much will people save?

People’s savings are dependent on their individual circumstances and which supplier they’re with.

According to Ofgem, the average customer can expect to save £76. But many customers will use more or less energy than average and some suppliers will have to change their prices by more than others to comply with the cap.

How long are prices fixed for?

The cap is designed to mean default tariffs fairly reflect the costs to suppliers of providing electricity and gas. The level of the cap will change on 1 April 2019.  Ofgem will then revise it every 6 months to reflect any changes in underlying costs to suppliers. This could go up or down.


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