Category Archives: Benefits

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CAB News 07 December 2018

Friday 07 December 2018

We have published this article after the Money Advice Service published new guidance on the collection of council tax.

National

Employment rights

Your rights to time off work if you have a childcare emergency this Christmas

The Mirror, 07/12/2018

Our advice on workers’ rights and childcare arrangements in an emergency has been used by the Mirror ahead of Christmas.

Tracey Moss, employment expert at Citizens Advice, said: “In an emergency, you are entitled to take time off to make sure your child is looked after. This is known as dependant leave.

“If your employer won’t give you time off, or has disciplined you for having to look after your child, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.”

Best places to work

Third Sector, 05/12/2018

Citizens Advice was included in the top 10 charities to work for by Third Sector.

Debt

MAS launches `progressive” council tax recovery guidance

Credit Connect, 05/12/2018

Our response to the Money Advice Service’s guidance on how to collect council tax arrears has been included in Credit Connect’s coverage.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Council tax arrears are the most common debt issue we help people with at Citizens Advice. Too often we see the harm that’s caused by the way this debt is collected, including further financial hardship and stress. The pursuit of government debt by authorities has also been criticised by MPs.

“Good collection practices by local authorities can work. By helping those who are struggling to meet their payments, councils can improve their collection rates. While voluntary approaches are welcome, to properly protect people from bad practices the government needs to establish an independent bailiff regulator.”

Regional

Impact of universal credit

Stoke Sentinel, 05/12/2018

Biddulph Citizens Advice said it was preparing for an increase in inquiries as Universal Credit is brought to the area.

They said: “We are anticipating that as Universal Credit is rolled out across Biddulph the demand for advice in both welfare benefit and debt will increase, as council tax reduction is not one of the benefits amalgamated into U.C and legacy benefit claimants will be being migrated to a new benefit with new compliance conditions that they have not previously been subjected to.”

Christmas Debt

How to avoid running up a debt this Christmas

This is West Country, 05/12/2018

Citizens Advice Cornwall has released a Christmas list of 12 tips to help people avoid pressure on their household budgets.

Bernie Buck, deputy chief executive at Citizens Advice Cornwall, said: “People can feel an awful lot of pressure on their finances over Christmas. All too often, this gets carried into the new year where they have to play budget catch up.

“But there are some simple and practical steps people can take to guard against a festive debt hangover, including early planning.
“If people are really struggling financially they can speak to one of our advisers face to face, online, or over the phone.”

Online marketplaces

How to avoid running up a debt this Christmas

Thame Gazette, 05/12/2018

Thame Citizens Advice said buyers need to beware as thousands of customers report being ripped off on online marketplaces.

A spokeswoman for Thame Citizens Advice said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. As part of National Consumer Week we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase and their rights if something goes wrong.

“To reduce the risk of being left out-of-pocket it’s a good idea to check the product information on these sites carefully before they make a purchase.”

In other news

O2’s data network was restored this morning after a day-long outage.

The airline regulator has begun enforcement action against Ryanair for refusing to compensate passengers for strike disruption.

A new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says 4 million British workers live in poverty.

The boss of the UK’s largest funeral provider, the Co-Op Group, has admitted the industry has taken advantage of people’s grief in the past.


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CAB News 30 November 2018

Friday 30 November 2018

Citizens Advice East End appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire to discuss a local rogue letting agent.

National

Housing

Letting Agencies charging just to see properties

BBC 2 (Victoria Derbyshire), 30/11/2018, p, author

Martin Shankleman of Citizens Advice East End appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire programme to discuss a local rogue letting agent that had been the subject of a BBC investigation.

Martin told the programme: “We’ve been inundated with complaints from people who feel they’ve been let down by letting agents”. And cited a case where a person had lost £1300.

Energy

Smart meter installation rates slide

The Times, 29/11/2018, Emily Gosden

The charity’s call for the 2020 rollout deadline to be extended to 2023 is cited by The Times which highlights the declining rate of smart meter installations.

Not so smart ministers

Daily Mail, 28/11/2018, p.46, Victoria Bischoff

Money Mail editor Victoria Bischoff’s opinion column highlights the recent NAO report on smart meters and the continued decision not to postpone the deadline.

“The findings of the National Audit Office follow repeated calls from consumer groups such as Citizens Advice imploring for the deadline to be pushed back. Yet ministers refuse to see sense and admit that their plan is just not realistic.”

Debt

Ministry of Justice issues call for evidence over bailiff reforms

Credit Strategy, 27/11/2018, Calum Fuller

Citizens Advice latest research showing that 2.2 million people contacted by a bailiff in the last two years experienced them “pushing the limits of the law” received further coverage.

Benefits

More than half of people denied Universal Credit have cases overturned on appeal

Independent, 27/11/2017, May Bulman

Citizens Advice data on Universal Credit received further coverage.

Citizens Advice, which has recently been contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to support the rollout of the new benefit, has seen 3,929 individual clients on issues with universal credit appeals in the past 12 months.

Regional

‘Universal Credit’ biggest change

Barrow North West Evening Mail, 27/11/2018, p.4, Tom Murphy

The launch of Citizens Advice Barrow’s service to support Universal Credit claimants is covered in the local media.

Christine Mckinley, Chief Officer at Barrow Citizens Advice, said: “We already know that people can struggle with the online Universal Credit Application process. A recent survey by the charity found that a third of people that Citizens Advice has helped nationally struggled to provide the evidence need to complete their claim”.

Hartlepool advice experts’ Christmas call after helping people with £7m of debt

Hartlepool Mail, 27/11/2018, Mark Payne

Citizens Advice Hartlepool has urged people not to overspend this Christmas and has provided tips and advice to avoid a Christmas debt hangover.

Joe Michna, manage at Citizens Advice Hartlepool, said: “People can feel an awful lot of pressure on their finances over Christmas. All too often, this gets carried into the new year where they have to play budget catch up. But there are some simple and practical steps people can take to guard against a festive debt hangover, including early planning.”

In other news

Rail fares are set to rise by 3.1%.

The cost of 118 calls will be capped.

A police watchdog has released a new report showing how forces across the country are becoming the default service to deal with mental health problems.


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CAB News 23 November 2018

Friday 23 November 2018

Today Citizens Advice features in national and regional news about rent-to-own products, smart meters and debt.

It’s also the media launch of National Consumer Week today as we warn consumers about the problems with online marketplaces. There is a template press release to share with local media – available in English and in Welsh.

National

Government will miss smart meter deadline, watchdog warns

The Guardian, CityAM, FT, The Times, 23/11/2018

The National Audit Office has said the government will miss its own deadline for installing smart meters. Our response has been carried.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “If the costs of the rollout continue to rise, as the NAO suggests, it is households who will end up footing the bill. These costs may be offset if people benefit from savings in the long-term, but with no cost-benefit analysis conducted since 2016, it’s not clear that this will happen.”

National Consumer Week

Black Friday danger warning – why you need to beware online marketplaces today

The Mirror, BBC Radio London, 23/11/2018

Our research into the pitfalls of online marketplaces ahead of National Consumer Week was covered in the Mirror and on broadcast.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. This National Consumer Week, we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase – and their rights if something goes wrong.

“With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing items through online marketplaces.

Joe Lane was on BBC Radio London at 7:20am this morning discussing this. Katie Martin and Matthew Upton have also been interviewed for BBC News and Sky News.

Rent to own products

Cap on rent-to-own products positive step 

BBC News, FT, The Times, The Guardian, Yahoo News, Daily Express, 23/11/2018

Yesterday the FCA announced a cap on rent-to-own products and we hailed it as a victory. Joe Lane featured on BBC News Channel and ITV. Matthew Upton was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, said: “A cap gets to the heart of the problem by stopping costs from spiralling out of control and pushing people into further debt. Our evidence has repeatedly shown that well-designed caps can reduce the harm high-cost credit can cause, as they have done in the payday loan market.”

Debt

BrightHouse and PerfectHomes Black Friday deals cost THREE times more than high street prices

Sun Online, 21/11/2018, Tara Evans

Gillian Guy was quoted in a Sun Online story about the cost of household appliances being sold by rent-to-own companies on Black Friday.

The article also used our research that found a cap on rent-to-own agreements that meant nobody paid more than twice what they borrowed would save customers £62 million.

Gillian said: “People who buy household items using rent-to-own pay huge amounts of interest on products that already cost well over the regular retail price.

“Alongside extras, such as warranties and delivery charges, these agreements can lead to runaway costs that can cause people real financial harm.

“This is why the FCA must act soon and confirm its intention to cap rent-to-own agreements. No one should have to pay back more than double what they borrow.”

Regional

Concern over fuel poverty in Cumbria

BBC Radio Cumbria, 21/11/2018 (1hr 37 mins in)

Andy Auld, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, appeared on BBC radio to talk about the high levels of fuel poverty in the area.

He said: “Eden is the second worst in England and Wales for fuel poverty – nearly 17% of people in Eden are in fuel poverty.

“What we find it’s people on the lowest incomes who are more likely to have problems with meeting their fuel costs.”

He added: “In Cumbria it is much higher than average and it is of concern.”

Citizens Advice Rochdale campaigns for regulator to crack down on badly behaving bailiffs

Rochdale Online, 18/11/2018

Our campaign for an independent regulator to police the bailiff industry was covered in the north west.

Research last week showed that one in every three people visited by a bailiff witnessed the enforcement officer breaking the rules.

Citizens Advice in Rochdale said it dealt with 158 people in the last two years with bailiff issues, including one person who had a £44 debt, to which a £75 compliance charge was added and £235 for “enforcement action”.

Jonathan Yates, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Rochdale, said: “The government must step in and regulate the industry to prevent people suffering at the hands of bailiffs who flout the rules.

“It beggars’ belief an industry that can cause so much damage is not properly policed by a regulator.”

This story was also covered in the Oldham Evening Chronicle and radio station Revolution 96.2.

In other news

Campaigners say new laws going through parliament will not go far enough to stamp out all hidden fees and charges for renters.

The homeless population in Britain has risen to 320,000.

A bank customer lost thousands in a scam, despite the fraudster getting one of her security questions wrong.

 


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CAB News 16 November 2018

Friday 16 November 2018

EE and Virgin Media have been fined £13.3m by the Telecoms regulator for overcharging customers wanting to leave broadband and phone contracts early. We are issuing a response to this.

In other top news, our post research continues to receive media coverage and, a study commissioned by Gateshead Council shows universal credit is bad for health and wellbeing.

National

Post

Can the Post Office really plug the gap as bank branches are shut down?

Which? (Web), 16/11/2018, Unattributed

The UK has lost two-thirds of its bank branches in the past 30 years, sparking warnings that communities are losing access to mainstream financial services.

Gillian Guy said: ‘Research from Which? echoes our own – we also found relatively few people know post offices provide basic banking services. And of those who did know, only about one in two said they’re using them. We want the government, the Post Office and banks to raise awareness, and help improve the banking services post offices offer, to ensure they meet consumer needs.

The issue has also been covered by the Yorkshire Post.

Debt

Promise to curb rogue bailiffs after MP tells of disabled woman’s ordeal

The Guardian, 14/11/2018, p18, Peter Walker

Wolverhampton MP Emma Reynolds highlighted our research in yesterday’s Justice questions and referenced the experiences of a disabled constituent who had a shocking bailiff encounter.

Reynolds also cited a study by Citizens Advice that said a third of people visited by bailiffs said the debt collectors had broken rules of conduct.

Reynolds asked: “When is the government urgently going to review the rules, and introduce an independent body to police the rules?”

850,000 people have had a bad experience with a bailiff – with forced entries top of the list

Mirror Online, 13/11/2018, Emma Munbodh

The article says since 2016, more than 2.2 million people have come into contact with a bailiff in Britain. Citizens Advice said 850,000 of this number have reported experiences such as forced entry or having their tools for work removed.

Gillian Guy said: “The 2014 reforms were well-intentioned but sadly have had little effect on improving the behaviour of some bailiffs.”

‘Bailiffs contributed to my son’s death, we must protect others’

ITV News, 13/11/2018

Senior Policy Researcher Joe Lane was interviewed on ITV lunchtime news alongside Tracey Rogers, who is campaigning for bailiff reform after her son Jerome killed himself following bailiff harassment.

Joe said: “Citizens Advice helps about 40,000 people with bailiff problems each year. Today’s research shows that experience is far more common. There are a set of rules bailiffs are supposed to follow but far too often, those are being broken.”

Head of External Affairs Katie Martin was also interviewed on LBC with Nick Ferrari yesterday morning. The research was also covered by the Independent and Money Saving Expert.

Regional

Benefits

Disabled people can be £300 a month worse off under Universal Credit

Rochdale Online, 12/11/2018

Our research that revealed disabled people could be £300 a month worse off under Universal Credit when compared to legacy benefits was covered by Rochdale Online.

The article revealed Citizens Advice Penine West – which overseas Rochdale, Oldham and Trafford – had helped more than 2,600 people with Universal Credit since it was rolled out in the area.

Jonathan Yates, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Pennine West, said: “We see the toll that Universal Credit can have on disabled people in Rochdale, Oldham and Trafford.

“They can be hundreds of pounds worse off than under the previous system – even when they do get the support meant for them.

“This money is desperately needed to cover key costs including essential bills and stop people falling into serious financial difficulty.”

Citizens Advice – Universal Credit means local disabled people are hundreds of pounds worse off

Oldham Evening Chronicle (Web), 09/11/2018, Unattributed

Citizens Advice Pennine West is calling on the government to make changes to the design and the amount of financial support in Universal Credit to make sure disabled people aren’t penalised when they claim the new benefit.

Jonathan Yates, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Pennine West, said: “We see the toll that Universal Credit can have on disabled people in Trafford, Oldham and Rochdale. They can be hundreds of pounds worse off than under the previous system – even when they do get the support meant for them.”

In other news

Universal credit has become a serious threat to public health.

NHS ‘could be short of 350,000 staff by 2030’.

A survey has revealed the UK’s “worst” online retailer.


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CAB News Friday 09 November 2018

Friday 09 November 2018

Today Citizens Advice has been picked up by a variety of news outlets including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and local media.

National

Broadband Loyalty Penalty

Sticking with your broadband provider costs an average of £230 a year, research shows

The Daily Mail, 09/11/2018, p.10, Amelia Murray/Sean Poulter

Our call for a consumer champion for the broadband market has been included in the Daily Mail’s coverage of new figures that show the price customers are paying for the internet. Our super-complaint into the loyalty penalty was also referenced.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “No one should be penalised for their loyalty. It’s clear the industry needs more scrutiny which is why the Government should set up an independent champion for consumers as is the case in other essential markets.”

UN investigation into poverty

Life on the poverty frontline: UN turns its gaze on UK

The Guardian, 08/11/2018, Robert Booth

Image result for poverty uk food banks

Citizens Advice Newcastle was listed as one of the places the UN investigation into poverty visited during its investigation into poverty in the UK. A local client was quoted.

Sharon Morton said: “I wash in what I call a birdbath – a little hot water in a basin and have a spruce down. To keep warm I wrap up in layers and layers. I never thought I would be 48 and in this position.”

Energy price cap designed to protect 11 million households to come into force from January 1

Metro, 07/11/2018, p.28, Holly Williams

Our response to the energy price cap details announced by the regulator Ofgem yesterday was included in the Metro’s coverage.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “This price cap will finally offer some much-needed protection for loyal households on default tariffs, who have been exploited for too long.”

Our response was also picked up in the Sun, the MailOnline, Evening Standard and the Guardian.

Regional

Citizens Advice Sheffield

BBC Radio Sheffield, 08/11/2018, 12:11:15

Francis Potter, Citizens Advice Sheffield, took calls on BBC Radio Sheffield on the roll-out of Universal Credit across the city.

“Most of Sheffield is effected but it’s only for new claims. If you’re already on legacy benefits, you won’t have to do anything… Only those who have a change of circumstances will be moved over to Universal Credit.”

In other news

High Street Shops are closing at a rate of 14 per day.

MPs have have found single parents, care leavers and people with disabilities and health conditions were “disproportionately vulnerable” to benefit sanctions.

Today the state pension age rises to 65 for women and some campaigners are concerned the pace of equalisation has left some retirees facing poverty.

 


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CAB News 2 November 2018

Friday 2 November 2018

The Financial Conduct Authority’s announcement that it is to investigate pricing in the insurance market was widely reported alongside our research that found loyalty penalties cost UK consumers more than £4 billion every year.

National

‘This isn’t about bits and pieces of money’

BBC Radio 5 Live, 31/10/2018 (51m 40 s in)

Our Director of Policy Matthew Upton was interviewed on 5 Live’s Drive programme about the FCA’s announcement on insurance pricing.

“It’s important to say this is not about it being a bit annoying and people losing out on bits and pieces on money,” he said.

“A lot of people we see, they’re living on the edge and this loyalty penalty can be up to £1,000 a year once you have totted it up across different markets.

“For some of the most vulnerable people in society that’s the difference between getting by and not getting by.”

Benefits

Universal Credit leaving Hambleton disabled people £300 worse off, says charity

Hambleton Today and Richmondshire Today, 31/10/2018, Joe Willis

Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire concerns that Universal Credit could leave disabled people £300 a week worse off when compared to the previous benefits system was covered by local press.

The story reported that the charity has helped 1,708 people with Universal Credit since it was rolled out, of which 642 were disabled or had a long-term health condition.

Carol Shreeve, chief executive of Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire, said: “We see the toll that Universal Credit can have on disabled people in Richmondshire.

“They can be hundreds of pounds worse off than under the previous system – even when they do get the support meant for them.

“This money is desperately needed to cover key costs including essential bills and stop people falling into serious financial difficulty.”

‘There are obviously problems with it’

BBC Radio Cumbria, 28/10/2018 (54m in)

Andy Auld, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, was interviewed by BBC radio on the rollout of Universal Credit in the area.

“There are obviously problems with Universal Credit that aren’t going to be sorted out by a mass roll out,” he said.

“It needs to be slowed down and thought through.”

Sandie Lock appeared on Holding Back the Years

BBC1 Holding Back the Years, 29/10/2018

Our benefits expert Sandie Lock appeared on BBC1 programme Holding Back the Years to talk about the issues older people face when dealing with benefits.

The programme followed the case of Diane Geraghty, who survived only on cheese after her pension and benefits payments stopped due to a DWP error.

Sandie said: “The benefits system is very complicated and it can be difficult for people to understand and find their way around.

“We often find at Citizens Advice that a lot of clients will come to us are worried, sometimes anxious, and sometimes angry and frustrated.

“A lot of people find it difficult to get advice straight away, which maybe through embarrassment.”

In other news

The number of UK households in energy debt has risen by 300,0000.

The North-South house price divide will narrow over the next five years according to Savills.

There has been a surge in applications for Irish passports, with one in 10 Britons outside Northern Ireland likely to be eligible for one.


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Citizens Advice says concerns remain despite government’s budget boost for Universal Credit

Category : Benefits

Friday 02 November 2018

Citizens Advice has responded to the government’s announcement of a boost in funding for Universal Credit in this year’s Budget.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Today’s announcement suggests the government rightly acknowledges Universal Credit has serious problems that must be fixed. This funding will help some people who are really struggling to get by including disabled people.

“However, there are still fundamental problems with Universal Credit. Based on our evidence, we believe improvements must be made to Universal Credit before millions more people are moved onto the new benefit.

“We await further details on additional protections announced for those moving over to Universal Credit as we’re concerned some people may be left behind without enough money to live on.”


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CAB News Friday 26 October 2018

Friday 26 October 2018

Our report on disabled people being up to £300 worse off under Universal Credit got widespread national coverage this morning.

There are two template press releases available on Cablink (here and here) for you to send to your local media contacts: if you have UC and if you don’t. This includes breakdowns of the number of clients you help who are disabled or have a long-term health condition.

National

Universal Credit

Universal Credit Could Strip Disabled People Of £300 A Month, Says New Report

Huffington Post, 26/10/2018

Our report on the detrimental effect Universal Credit will have on disabled people was carried by Huffington Post

They interviewed a case study we provided who found he was missing out on £97.85 per week when he was moved to Universal Credit.

Sam said “it gets to the point that I pay my bills and I have £100 left to live on for the whole month..It gets me down that I can’t see my friends as much as I’d like”.

CREDIT CHAOS: Disabled people will be ‘£300 a month worse off’ under Universal Credit

The Sun, 26/10/2018

The Sun also reported on the flaws in the system which mean some disabled people will suffer financially.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said “Some disabled people will be unfairly disadvantaged under Universal Credit. The government needs to address this and increase the financial support disabled people can receive under Universal Credit.”

Our report was also covered by:

Kayley Hignell interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live

Wake up to Money, 26/10/2018 (34m 50s in)

Kayley Hignell, our Head of Policy for Families, Welfare and Work, was interviewed on 5 Live’s Wake up to Money programme about an MP report into Universal Credit – which said the DWP had a “culture of indifference” about the benefit.

Kayley said: “For the people we’ve been looking at recently – people who have disabilities – we are finding that those who are working aren’t able to access the support that’s available in the Universal Credit system to make sure that is the case – that they are better off when working.”

Rogue Landlords

53 councils have not prosecuted a single landlord in three years

The Guardian, 25/10/2018, p10, Tom Wall

Rules for landlords not fit for purpose, says John McDonnell

A joint investigation by The Guardian and ITV found more than one in seven councils in England and Wales have failed to prosecute a single bad landlord over the past three years.

Jill Harrison, the chief executive of Enfield Citizens Advice, said rogue landlords had little to fear in Enfield because the council does not have the resources to deal with the complaints.

She said “there is a serious problem with disrepair in the borough. But there is very little disincentive for rogue landlords behaving in this way.”

Debt

I wanted to kill myself over £50k debts but here’s how I paid it off every penny in six years

The Sun online, 24/10/2018

The Sun reports on a charity worker who considered suicide over £50,000 worth of debt, but then managed to pay back every cent in six years.
With support from debt advisers at Citizens Advice and a mental health charity, Emma Malcolm, from Hampshire, turned her finances around.

Ms Malcolm, spoke of the advice Citizens Advice gave her, and said “they helped me sort out what payments were a priority and how I could make some extra cash”.

In other news

New railcard for millennials – people aged between 26-30 – will be able to get the special railcard by the end of the year.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned UK’s most vulnerable risk being trapped in disadvantage.

The law fails to stop rogue landlords.


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Disabled people can be more than £300 a month worse off under Universal Credit

Friday 26th October 2018

Universal Credit could leave some single disabled people more than £300 a month worse off compared to the previous system, research from Citizens Advice reveals.

In its new report, Universal Credit for Single Disabled People, Citizens Advice reveals a significant drop in financial support for single disabled people in a range of circumstances.

This includes losses that can be more than £300 a month for working disabled people because of flaws in the design of the new benefit. The Work Allowance is meant to improve work incentives for disabled people in Universal Credit.

However, in practice, the Work Allowance can only be accessed through the Work Capability Assessment, which gives benefits awards to people unable to work, rather than for disabled people who can work. This creates the situation where a worker must be assessed as not fit for work to receive targeted in-work support.

The report shows disabled people will lose out in many ways:

  • Working disabled people on Universal Credit could be more than £300 per month worse off because they struggle to access the Work Allowance while in work.

  • Working disabled people who do get the Work Allowance could be more than £200 per month worse off due to weaker support from the Work Allowance when compared to support for disabled workers in Tax Credits.

  • Disabled people who can only do limited work have their benefit reduced after working just 6 hours a week at the minimum wage if they have housing costs, rather than 16 hours a week in the previous system. This means somebody working 12 hours a week can be over £100 a month worse off.

  • People without a carer and unable to work who make a new Universal Credit claim can be £180 a month worse off because the Severe Disability Premium was removed.

Universal Credit is the government’s flagship welfare programme that rolls 6 legacy benefits – such as Tax Credits and Employment and Support Allowance – into one monthly payment.

Citizens Advice has looked extensively at the effects of the new system including recent reports on problems making a claimand work incentives.

This latest report from the charity finds that Universal Credit has brought some improvements by simplifying the benefits system and removing “cliff edges”, where some people lose large chunks of income if they work just a few more hours.

However, Citizens Advice says the government – which wants 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027 – must increase financial help and improve work incentives for disabled people and those with health conditions.

It is calling on the government to make changes to the design of Universal Credit to make sure disabled people aren’t penalised when they claim the new benefit.

Citizens Advice identifies four things the government should consider improving in Universal Credit for disabled people and those with health conditions:

  • Ensure working people receive targeted in-work financial support if they are disabled or have a health condition.

  • Ensure disabled people with a Limited Capability for Work are able to trial part-time work without facing a significant penalty in their benefits.

  • Review the removal of the Limited Capability for Work element, worth £29 a week, and the introduction of a personal support package.

  • Introduce targeted financial support through a self-care element for disabled people who live alone without an adult carer.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Some disabled people will be unfairly disadvantaged under Universal Credit.

“Working disabled people need to prove they are unfit to work to get support meant for them. This goes against the government’s aim to support a million disabled people into work.

“Even when disabled people do get the support meant for them under Universal Credit, whether they are in work or not, they can be hundreds of pounds worse off a month than the previous system. This is money people desperately need to cover their bills.

“The government needs to address this and increase the financial support disabled people can receive under Universal Credit.”


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Government “must make changes” to Universal Credit, Citizens Advice says

Friday 26th October 2018

Responding to news that the government is set to pause the rollout of Universal Credit, Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Today’s news suggests the government recognises Universal Credit has serious problems that must be fixed before tens of thousands more people are moved onto the new benefit.

“If implemented, the measures set out in the leaked document could reduce the risk of greater hardship as a result of moving onto the benefit.

“But Universal Credit is a complex system, and these measures alone will not solve all of the problems. The government must make changes to ensure no one is left without enough to get by.”


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