CAB News 13 September 2019
Friday 13 September 2019
Citizens Advice Scams Action has been featured in an ITV documentary about fraud.
Citizens Advice Scams Action ready to help
Fraud: The Public Threat, Tonight, ITV1, 12/09/2019, 7.30pm (about 20′ into clip). Helen Skelton
Our new service Citizens Advice Scams Action was featured on ITV’s Tonight programme yesterday.
The programme showed our website in detail and interviewed Martin Lewis, whose payout from Facebook, after his image was used in a series of online scams, has funded the service.
Martin said it would provide “one on one help” for people worried they had been victims of a scam. He also outlined what to look out for to avoid being scammed.
Martin said “urgency and secrecy” were the two biggest red flags a scammer might be at work.
Struggling to make ends meet? Go to your local Citizens Advice
The Asian Network (registration required), 12/09/2019, 10pm (about 1’20” into clip), Mobeen Azhar
People seeking advice on Universal Credit and other financial problems were urged to seek our help by the presenters of a programme on the BBC’s Asian Network entitled ‘Struggling to Make Ends Meet.’
Raji Osahn said of one man, who’d had numerous issues trying to claim Universal Credit: “He absolutely needs to go to a local Citizens Advice.”
Surge in councils using bailiffs to chase debts, including parking fines
The Independent, 11/09/2019, Vicky Shaw
Councils across England and Wales sent 2.6 million debts to bailiffs in 2018-19, a 7 per cent rise on the year before.
Despite this, the Money Advice Trust, who carried out the research, said it has found evidence that more councils are adopting best practice on affordability and vulnerability. It found 64 councils have now signed up to the Citizens Advice and Local Government Association’s council tax protocol, which is an increase from two years before.
Cut bailiff use for non-payment of council tax, say charities
The Guardian, 11/09/2019, Ben Quinn
Our council tax ‘good practice protocol’ is helping to improve the way local authorities collect arrears.
There were still 1.4 million referrals to bailiffs for the collection of council tax last year, according to new figures from the Money Advice Trust. But the report shows 51% of local authorities had reduced their bailiff use during the last two years.
The Local Government Association said the findings showed that there had been a positive impact from the work it had been doing with Citizens Advice on a council tax arrears good practice protocol.
Sixty-four councils have signed up to the Citizens Advice/LGA council tax protocol – up from 50 two years ago. A further 23 councils are considering signing up the protocol which, for example, obliges local authorities to give careful consideration before passing debts to enforcement agencies where potentially vulnerable household are involved.
DWP extends the claims period by a month
i News, 09/09/2019, Serina Sandhu
The government’s announcement that parents on Universal Credit will now have an extra month to claim back childcare costs was covered by i News.
Gillian Guy told the paper “It’s good to see Government help parents on Universal Credit… This kind of flexibility needs to be applied to more of the new benefits system.
“Our evidence shows some people are having difficulty meeting the upfront costs of childcare, which can run to hundreds of pounds on already tight budgets.
“To really make sure parents can get the support they need on Universal Credit, the Government should look at paying childcare costs in advance or direct to providers.”
Eversmart Energy collapse hits 29,000 customers
The Times, 07/09/2019, p.49, Emily Gosden
A small energy supplier that courted controversy by encouraging households to pay for a year’s gas and electricity usage up front ceased trading on Friday. Our response, in our capacity as the official consumer watchdog for energy, was widely featured in the national press.
Gillian Guy told The Times: “Eversmart is the 13th domestic energy company to collapse in the past two years. Our research shows this unlucky baker’s dozen of failed companies has left behind at least £172 million in unpaid costs. These will be picked up by other consumers through higher bills.”
She called for Ofgem to “act to reduce the cost of supplier failures and protect customers”.
The story was also covered by The Independent which noted: “Last year, Citizens Advice sounded the alarm about the company after it began offering a tariff where advanced payments of about £1,000 were paid by households.”
In other news
Domestic violence murders surge to five-year high.
In-game spending should be regulated by gambling laws, MPs say.
Ministers have been forced to publish documents predicting public disorder, rising prices and disruptions to food and medicines in Operation Yellowhammer papers.
TUC and Amnesty come out in support of student climate strikes.