Author Archives: Oliver Domleo

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CAB News 14 February 2020

Friday 14 February 2020

Citizens Advice’s reaction to the new energy compensation rules has been featured in articles by the BBC, The Daily Mail and The Sun.

National

Energy

Energy firms to pay compensation for switching blunders

The BBC, 12/02/2020

Energy regulator Ofgem has announced that gas and electricity customers will receive automatic compensation of £30 from May, if their switch to a new provider goes wrong.

Citizens Advice’s reaction to the change has been included in articles by the BBC, The Daily Mail and The Sun.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “These new protections should give more people the confidence to shop around and find the best deals.

“Households can still save hundreds of pounds by switching and shouldn’t be put through the hassle and stress of having to claim compensation when energy suppliers make mistakes.”

Benefits

Families STILL forced to choose between heating and eating despite benefits freeze ending, warns charity

The Sun, 11/02/2020, Hollie Borland

MPs yesterday ended the benefits freeze by agreeing to increase income-related benefits by inflation.

However, new analysis by Citizens Advice shows that almost 4 in 10 households that seek debt advice and receive these frozen benefits would still not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024 – even if these rises were to continue in future years. The research has been featured in The Sun, The Mirror and The Big Issue.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our evidence shows that increasing numbers of people simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. While a step in the right direction, increasing benefits by inflation will not go far enough to help solve this problem.

“The benefits system was created to support people in times of need. The government should show it’s serious about meeting this ambition by properly investing in working-age benefits, and making sure fewer families are left in a downward spiral with no way to pay their bills.”

Post

Access to post vital in rural communities

BBC 2, Countryfile, 09/02/2020, 09:23:35

Countryfile visits the Lizard in Cornwall to discuss the importance of Post Offices. Local people expressed how important the facilities are to them, and they’re not alone in that thinking. Citizens Advice found that 81% of people described their local post office as important, while 91% of people with disabilities described the service as essential.

Trade

Energy

New metrics to be included in Citizens Advice star ratings

Utility Week, 08/02/2020, Adam John [paywall]

Citizens Advice will take into account email and social media response times when calculating its star ratings table for energy retailers going forward, a recently published decision document has revealed.

The consumer charity has also said it will remove failed suppliers from the star rating and adjust the rankings accordingly.

It has decided not to include telephone ringbacks and calls that are dropped before an agent is reached in its customer service metrics and will continue to investigate the use of webchat, though this will not be included at the moment.

In other news

‘My court record only emerged when I got a job’.

UK’s 2021 census could be the last, statistics chief reveals.

‘Deposit-free renting left me more than £500 out of pocket’.

A landmark Court of Appeal judgment has stopped the “floodgates opening” for wives not getting their fair share after a divorce, the Independent says.


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New automatic payments for delays in switching “should give people more confidence to shop around”, says Citizens Advice

Image result for automatic payments

Friday 14 February 2020

Citizens Advice, in its role as the official consumer watchdog for energy, has responded to Ofgem’s announcement of new automatic compensation for customers who have problems switching their energy supplier.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“These new protections should give more people the confidence to shop around and find the best deals.

“Households can still save hundreds of pounds by switching and shouldn’t be put through the hassle and stress of having to claim compensation when energy suppliers make mistakes.”

Background:

Citizens Advice published its Automation for the Nation report, calling for automatic compensation for essential service failures (including energy switching) in December 2018.


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Ending the benefits freeze won’t stop families facing the choice between heating and eating

Friday 14 February 2020

MPs are set to end the benefits freeze by agreeing to increase income-related benefits by inflation.

While a welcome move, new analysis by Citizens Advice shows that almost 4 in 10 households that seek debt advice and receive these frozen benefits would still not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024 – even if these rises were to continue in future years.

Citizens Advice has helped people such as Sheila, 64, who works part time and receives Universal Credit. Her payments can change on a monthly basis, making it hard for her to budget and cover her monthly costs. She is trapped in council tax and rent arrears, and has had to resort to a foodbank.

She said: “Quite often I don’t have any electric, so I’m very cold. I can’t even make a hot water bottle to keep warm, or make a hot drink. I have to stay under the duvet.

“Even in the months when I am paid my full Universal Credit and wages it’s still really hard to afford everything, including food.

“It’s all swings and roundabouts, I just don’t have enough money coming in to pay the council tax and rent arrears, the actual council tax, buy food and top up my gas and electric.”

The analysis from Citizens Advice found that the number of people who are unable to cover their living costs has increased since the benefits freeze began in 2016. In the first five months of the current financial year, 40% of the people the charity helped with debt who claim income-related benefits didn’t have enough money to cover their living costs – an increase of 25% since the freeze came into effect.

Citizens Advice is continuing to call for the government to help address this problem by increasing income-related benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus 2% for four years, and to recalculate Local Housing Allowance, which determines housing benefit for private tenants. This will help provide families with financial security and protect people from further hardship.

It also argues that changes to benefit levels need to be accompanied by wider reforms to ensure the benefits system as a whole provides people with the right support. This includes ensuring Universal Credit gives people enough to live on by reviewing areas such as the amount of money retained by working claimants, and deductions for those dealing with debts or repaying advance payments.