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Author Archives: Oliver Domleo

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CAB News 16 April 2021

Friday 16 April 2021

Our comments on social housing conditions and the reduction in payments to Universal Credit claimants have made it into the national news.

National

Housing

Investigation launched into ‘disgusting’ damp and mouldy council housing after ITV News report

ITV News, 14/04/2021, Daniel Hewitt

The Housing Ombudsman has launched an investigation into “disgusting” social housing conditions after reports revealed damp and mould was widespread throughout the UK. Our Director of External Affairs, Katie Martin, was interviewed for the report. Katie said: “The problem in the private rented sector is there’s a real imbalance of power between the renter and the landlord.”

Universal Credit

Half a million on Universal Credit have had benefits cut by surprise tax bill

The Sun, 14/04/2021, Sara Benwell (also covered by the Mirror and the Express)

Thousands of Universal Credit claimants have had their payments reduced in a tax raid by HMRC linked to historical working tax credits.

Alistair Cromwell said: “Deductions, particularly if they come out of the blue, can make it really hard for people on Universal Credit to manage their money. A more flexible approach is needed so that deductions don’t leave people unable to cover their essential bills. If you’ve been affected by a benefits overpayment and are struggling, your local Citizens Advice can help with free financial advice.”

Regional

Universal Credit

Interview with Fiona Derbyshire, Citizens Advice York and District

TFM Teeside, 12/04/2021, (listen from 2hrs and 2 mins in)

There are concerns for people’s futures when support systems put in place for the pandemic end this year, including the £20 uplift in Universal Credit. Chief Officer for Citizens Advice York and District, Fiona Derbyshire, said: “We’ve got a fairly short extension of the Universal Credit £20 uplift, that ends in September. So I think we’re looking at a pretty bleak time for people, as many of those support systems end.”

Trade

Employment

What You Need To Know About Your Furlough & Redundancy Rights

Sheerluxe, 12/04/2021, Harriet Russell

We offer our advice on furlough and redundancy rights in this consumer piece, including what to expect from your employer, how furlough pay is calculated and what to do if you are not being paid properly.

Energy

How can public electric vehicle charging be improved?

Which?, 09/04/2021, Dhara Vyas

Our Head of Future Energy Services, Dhara Vyas, wrote a piece for consumer title Which? about the future of electric cars. The article outlines four key challenges the government needs to address to build public confidence in electric vehicles and make charging the vehicles easier.


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CAB News 09 April 2021

Friday 09 April 2021

Our Private Rented Sector report has received some great local and national coverage.

National

Housing

Citizens Advice now helping one renter every minute

The Times, 05/04/2021

Half a million tenants were thought to be in arrears at the beginning of the year, owing more than £700 on average. Citizens Advice estimated that £360 million was owed across the country, with a quarter of private tenants in arrears having received threats of eviction or cancellation of their contract.

In the first two months of the year the charity recorded a 40 percent increase in people seeking advice on issues relating to the private rented sector compared with the same period last year.

Alistair Cromwell, the charity’s acting chief executive, called for the government to use the Renters’ Reform Bill, which will be put to parliament this year, to install a body to set standards in the rental market and protect tenants.

He said: “Our research paints a disturbing picture of a private rental market in which tenants pay high rents on badly maintained properties, while living in constant fear that any complaint could result in eviction.”

Gill Pipkin from Citizens Advice Cornwall spoke to BBC One’s Spotlight and BBC Radio Cornwall (1 hour 10 minutes in) about the issue. Gill explained the charity had seen a 77% increase for private renters advice in January and February this year compared to last. Gill continued that “Extending the eviction ban is simply kicking the can down the road. The upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill provides and opportunity to lay foundations for a more equal private rented sector. We’d also like to see a National Housing Body implemented to set consistent standard, and the introduction of indefinite tenancies to allow for more certainty.”

Post

Having an address got me a job when I was homeless

BBC, 03/04/2021, Katie Prescott

Addresses represent far more than a physical location or a home, they are an integral part of identification. Without one, people struggle to apply for benefits, jobs, a library card, opening a bank account or getting on the electoral register.

It’s a Catch-22 situation. which has led to Citizens Advice calling a lack of addresses “the postal paradox”. As well as being excluded from signing up to essential services, the organisation found that homeless people are likely to miss important correspondence, which can lead to benefit sanctions, arrest warrants, dropping down waiting lists and missing out on housing.


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CAB News 02 April 2021

Friday 02 April 2021

Our latest star rating for energy suppliers has been published and been covered in several national newspapers.

National

Energy

Energy bills to rise by almost £100 for 15 million households from April 1

Mail Online, 31/03/2021

Our new energy star rating has been featured in the national press, with many papers linking the story to today’s rise in in the price cap for customers on default tariffs.

The Daily Mail’s website included a picture of one of our tweets giving advice for people struggling with their energy bills, and a quote from Alistair Cromwell.

Alistair said: “With the rise in the energy price cap, many will have to pay more and rightly expect a decent service. Suppliers must step up to give their customers what they deserve.

“Everyone should consider whether they are getting value for money from their supplier – paying more doesn’t always mean you will receive a better service.

“Don’t put up with it if it’s not good enough. Shop around if you can.”

The star rating also featured in The Mirror, the Evening StandardMorning Star, The Star, Company News and several regional daily newspapers such as the Lancashire Telegraph.

Housing

What should you do if your landlord does not repair your home?

itn.com, 31/03/2021

ITN has been running a series of features on the poor living conditions of many tenants in social housing.

Our Senior Housing Expert Amy Hughes provided detailed advice for the broadcaster’s website for all tenants who have issues with maintenance or disrepair.

Talking about private renters, and the problem of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, Amy said: “Some unscrupulous landlords use this as a ‘revenge eviction’ when tenants complain about their living conditions.”

She added: “This situation, understandably, means private tenants are very often reluctant to bring up maintenance or disrepair issues with their landlords.”

The article noted that “The government did promise to abolish the section 21 notices used for revenge evictions in 2019 but has not made any progress so far.”

The article also carried several links to the advice pages on our website.

Citizens Advice says it is helping one tenant every minute

i , 26/03/2021, Chris Newlands

“One single mother said she was issued with an eviction notice after complaining to her landlord that she had been without heating and hot water.”

The experiences of our case study Sophia led coverage in the i newspaper of our report One Renter Every Minute, which highlights growing problems in the private rented sector.

Sophia said: “I’m a wreck. I can’t sleep. I am up every night at 3am in the morning and throwing up worrying about it. I have until the end of May to find somewhere to live.”

Alistair Cromwell said: “Our research paints a disturbing picture of a private rental market in which tenants pay high rents on badly maintained properties, while living in constant fear that any complaint could result in summary eviction.”

Our Director of External Affairs, Katie Martin, was interviewed by Lisa Aziz on LBC (2 hrs 35 mins into clip). Her comments were then played on numerous local radio stations in the Globals network including Jazz Fm and talkSport.

Katie said problems in the private rental market that were present before the pandemic are now re-emerging “with a vengeance”.

Katie added: “People are still living in fear of eviction by their landlord if they complain about the home they’re living in.”

Radio 4 used the story as part of its morning News Briefing and Times Radio also featured our research in its news bulletins. The Sun used Alistair’s quote in their article, which focused on the advice angle of the story. The My London news website wrote up the press release, as did a number of property websites, including Letting Agent Today, Landlord Zone and Property Reporter.

Magazines

Consumer

How to complain like a pro

Good Housekeeping, 31/01/2021, Susanne Norris

Our consumer experts have contributed to a comprehensive feature in Good Housekeeping magazine on how to complain and get results.

Lynette William, Consumer Expert at Citizens Advice, said that while you should always start by contacting the seller to complain, sometimes things don’t go to plan, and you may need to escalate your complaint.

“Check on [the seller’s] website to see if they belong to a Trade Association,” advised Lynette. “You might be able to ask the Association for advice on how to proceed and use their Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme if they have one. ADRs can offer a way to solve your problem through mediation or arbitration.”