Category Archives: Benefits

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CAB News 03 July 2020

Tribunal fees deter four out of five employees pursuing claims ...

Friday 03 July 2020

Citizens Advice has welcomed the government’s new funding package for local councils. In a statement, Dame Gillian Guy also said the commitment to look at council tax debt in more detail in the forthcoming spending review is an opportunity to help those in financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

National

Debt

Overdraft rates set to skyrocket in surprising blow to Britons

Daily Express, 02/07/2020, Rebekah Evans

Our advice for those struggling with their finances has been used by the Express, which reports that overdraft rates look set to rise following an announcement by the finance regulator.

The FCA said it will not require lenders to continue with lowered overdraft rates, except in cases of those who are financially impacted by COVID-19.

Employment

Citizens Advice helping one person every two minutes with a redundancy issue

HR Director, 02/07/2020 Makbool Javaid

Citizens Advice is warning of a surge in redundancy based on evidence from our frontline advisors, reports HR Director, in an article that links to last month’s press release on the issue.

Meanwhile, this week we have issued advice for those receiving universal credit as rules on job seeking, paused since March 30, are reinstated.

Energy

Long term protection planned for struggling energy customers

Independent, 30/06/20

Citizens Advice, the official consumer watchdog for energy, has welcomed industry regulator Ofgem’s new and permanent protections for customers using prepayment meters and those struggling to pay their bills.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The problems faced by customers using prepayment meters, and others struggling to keep up with their payments, have been a big concern for Citizens Advice for many years.

“It was heartening to see the industry rally round when the coronavirus pandemic struck. A series of measures was put in place to help people struggling with their energy bills – whether that was because they were shielding and finding it difficult to top up; or they’d seen a sudden and dramatic cut in their income.

“It’s even more welcome to see the protections we’ve been arguing for made permanent. It’s a recognition that as we move out of this first phase of the pandemic, many people will still need a more flexible approach to keeping up with their payments.

“Energy is an essential service – we all need it for basics such as home heating, and cooking and washing. At a time when more people are building up debts, everyone should be confident they’ll be given time and support to get their finances in order without the risk of disconnection.”

Scams

Over a third of adults have been targeted by a scammers since the start of lockdown

BBC Your Money and Your Life, 30/06/20 (clip starts 12:20)

Citizens Advice’s research for Scams Awareness has been featured as part of a package by the BBC.

Welfare

DWP change to Universal Credit law will hand 200,000 pensioners £350 each

Mirror, 30/06/20

State Pension | State pension credit: Couples warned to act now ...

Ministers are changing the law to formally end a Universal Credit loophole that left new pensioners in the lurch without cash – for as long as two months.

Previously, some claimants saw their Universal Credit payment end weeks before they hit state pension age. But they then also had to wait up to five weeks for their pension to be paid.

Council Tax

Citizens Advice warn of council tax “D-Day”: Bailiffs to chase debts again under new rules

The Express, 26/06/2020, Connor Coombe-Whitlock

Council tax debt has become a real problem in recent months and new legislation put through by the government may only make this worse reports The Express.

Three of the UKs largest debt charities have called on the government to take urgent action to stop bailiff visits restarting at the end of August.

Dame Gillian Guy said: “The government now has a two-month window of opportunity to make changes to council tax collection that will help millions of people facing the prospect of spiralling debt. Over the last few years, Citizens Advice has helped hundreds of thousands of people with council tax arrears.

“Using bailiffs to collect debts is a blunt tool that’s extraordinarily damaging to those on the receiving end, and economically ineffective for councils.”

The story was also picked up by several news websites such as Your Money and lovemoney.com, and by local papers such as the Cranfield Chronicle.

In other news

Care home staff and residents to get regular Covid-19 tests from next week.

Coronavirus: Meet Britain’s unlikely key workers.

Covid pandemic has left children’s futures derailed say charities.


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CAB News 26 June 2020

Friday 26 June 2020

Our comment on suspending the job seeking requirement attached to benefits claimants for those shielding has been used in The Independent.

National

Employment

People could be forced to take on jobs that place health at risk as suspension on benefit sanctions set to end

The Independent, 25/06/2020, May Bulman

People could be forced to take on work that places their health at risk or face losing their benefits as the government’s suspension to job-seeking requirements for benefit claimants is set to come to an end.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said a suspension on job-seeking requirements for people facing particular barriers would be the “right thing to do”, to avoid causing people stress and worry about potential sanctions.

“Many people who’ve had to claim benefits as a result of coronavirus will be hoping to get back to work as soon as possible. But given the economic climate, it could be a long time before job-hunting is business as usual,” she added.

“Some in particular, such as those who’ve been shielding and parents, could face an uphill struggle to find suitable work.”

Welfare

Citizens Advice provides redundancy support once every two minutes

BBC Radio 4, Money Box Live, 24/06/2020, (22 minutes 30 seconds in)

Principal Policy Manager Minesh Patel explains that Citizens Advice is currently supporting one person every two minutes on redundancy issues.

Minesh continued that when it came to welfare, people’s main concerns were around the application process and how much they were eligible to.

Benefits

Raise benefits for those not yet on Universal Credit, MPs demand

Mirror, 22/06/20

Ministers should raise rates for “legacy benefits”, according to the Work and Pensions Committee.

In a report, the committee said it was “unacceptable” that people have been left to face hardship without the equivalent help “simply because of
the outdated and complex way in which so-called legacy benefits are administered”.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Dame Gillian Guy said “we strongly urge” the Government to accept the recommendations, warning “it’s been
people in the most vulnerable circumstances who’ve been hardest hit” by the crisis.

Scams

From fake lockdown fines to bogus giveaways, shield your savings from coronavirus scams as fraudsters pounce

BBCDaily ExpressThe Sun, 21/06/20

Bradford Council Advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19) scams ...

 Local Citizens Advice offices up and down the country have also continued to secure great coverage on our national scams awareness campaign.

The latest coverage includes, Bournemouth Echo, BBC Newcastle (clip starts 2:22) BBC Oxford (clip starts 50:24), Carlisle News and Star, Derby Telegraph, In Your Area, LBC, Newton News, Wells Voice and Wrexham Leader.

Regional

Scams Awareness

Local Citizens Advice publicise scams campaign

Derbyshire Times [page 34],Barrow North West Evening Mail [page 11], Redditch Standard, Stray FM, MidSussex Times [page 21], 26/06/2020

Local Citizens Advice achieve great local coverage for this year’s Scams Awareness campaign.

Funding

Power firm donates more than £19,000 for Covid-19 relief, including £5,000 to charity with base in Boston

Boston Standard, 25/06/2020, David Seymour

Citizens Advice Mid Lincolnshire has been given £5,000 of funding from Western Power Distribution.

Sally Pygott, project development team leader, said: “The funding has enabled us to purchase mobile phones and keep them topped up for advisers helping clients via Adviceline, as well as buying a couple of new screens and laptops for advisers who were using their own computer equipment at home.”

Support

Council Supports The Local Armed Forces Community

Hu17, 22/06/20

Citizens Advice Hull & East Riding is providing tailored support for those in the armed forces.

Katherine Nickolds at Hull & East Riding Citizens Advice, said: “The integrated nature of this service ensures serving personnel and veterans are helped holistically and the one-stop-shop approach means they don’t need to repeat the complexity of their lives to multiple advice staff or agencies.

“This means they are less likely to fall ‘between the gaps’ of statutory and charitable service provision.”

Mental health

‘Failed and forgotten’ – are a generation of our children being let down?

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury, 20/06/20

Young people face barriers to accessing support for mental health ...

Citizens Advice Norfolk has featured in a special report into the provision of support for Norfolk’s children.

Alyssa Girvan, digital coordinator for Citizens Advice Norfolk, has produced a film about the experience of young people waiting for mental health support.

She said: “Young people’s mental health really is quite dire, particularly in lockdown when gate keepers for mental health are often in schools.”

In other news

Consumers are being warned about a sharp rise in coronavirus-related holiday scams.

The story of the UK’s coronavirus jobs crisis in six charts.

Coronavirus shielding scheme to be eased in England from 6 July.

Poorer households funding lockdown with debt, says think tank.