Category Archives: Consumer Issues

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CAB News 25 September 2020

Friday 25 September 2020

Citizens Advice research has found seven million people (14% of UK adults) have been unable to receive their post at some point over the last decade. See our website for the full press release.

National

Trade

Post

It’s vital the government act now to ensure our postal system is truly universal

Post and Parcel, 25/09/2020

Trade magazine Post and Parcel has featured our press release calling for everyone to have guaranteed access to postal services.

Charity bid to address Covid pain

The Mirror, 24/09/2020

Our warning that not having a fixed address will worsen Covid hardship has been picked up by the Daily Mirror.

Dame Gillian Guy said: “We’re seeing millions of people coming to us for help with redundancy, housing and welfare problems during the pandemic. Our current system is designed around letter boxes, not people.”

Consumer

Insurance firms ‘no longer able to penalise loyal clients’

BBC online, Sky News online, Telegraph, The Guardian, The Sun, Mirror, This is Money, Reuters, Mail Online, Daily Express (p.2), Independent (p.48)

About 10 million home and car insurance customers should save nearly £120 a year each after the UK financial regulator effectively banned the industry from charging higher premiums to loyal customers.

The move comes after Citizens Advice issued a “super-complaint” nearly two years ago against the practice, which it described as a “systematic scam”.

Dame Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s nearly two years since we submitted a super-complaint on the loyalty penalty and we’re pleased to see the FCA is proposing strong action to crack down on this systematic scam.

“We’re especially happy to see it tackling price-walking – gradual year-on-year price increases – and making companies automatically switch their customers to better deals.”

Housing

Renters rights: six things renters need to know

The Sun, 20/09/2020, Alice Grahns

Image result for renters rights uk

The Sun provided a step by step guide to what you need to know if you’re worried about losing you home with the help of Amy Hughes, our senior housing expert.

It’s “really important” to know where you are in that process, said Amy. “If your landlord has not yet given you a formal notice then you won’t be evicted for many months.

“If your landlord has already got a possession order and applied for a bailiff date, you might be evicted with 14 days notice.”

The Sun also carried our call for reforms that give judges more discretion to allow tenants to stay in their homes.

The Mirror also used our advice to help readers, as did The Express alongside a quote from Gillian Guy.

Gillian said: “Neither renters nor landlords can afford to be saddled with long-term arrears as a result of coronavirus.

“The government must urgently consider direct financial support to help renters clear their debts and stay in their homes, and so make good its promise that no renter will be evicted because of coronavirus”

The trade journals Letting Agent Today and Property 118 also used our advice and Gillian’s statement. The press release was written up by the Press Association which meant the story was carried by a number of regional newspapers in print and on their websites.

Regional

Employment

Advice for those worried about losing their jobs – and those working from home over winter

BBC Radio Newcastle, 23/09/2020 (about 1’25” into clip)

Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Newcastle, Shona Alexander, has been talking on the local BBC Radio  about the challenges both for people worried about their employment future, and those who’ll be working from home throughout the winter.

For people whose employers are making cuts she advised: “Get advice, don’t rush into things, make sure your redundancy is fair.

Welfare

You are not alone: message from Citizens Advice Coventry to those facing unemployment

BBC Radio Coventry, 24/09/2020, (about 3’20” into clip)

Kate Aldgate Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Coventry appeared on the local BBC Radio station to offer advice for people finding themselves out of work or using the benefits system for the first time.

She said: “The first thing I would advise is to pause and… gather all the information you can.”

She added: “The second thing I would say is that there’s a lot of help out there… So don’t think you’re alone, and being informed of the facts and  to go and speak to someone regarding that will help hopefully you feel more in control of the situation going forward.”

Talking about homeworkers, Shona said that people may not know they are entitled to allowances for expenses incurred from working at home, such as printing ink and telephone line rental.

And she added that heating bills may be a problem: “start to budget now and work out how you’re going to cope with those bills.”

In other news

Covid-bereaved and mental health experts call for grief support funds.

Sunak set to unveil emergency jobs scheme.

New local lockdowns: the rules where you are – Sky News.


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CAB News 11 September 2020

Image result for ofgem

Friday 11 September 2020

There’s been coverage across the national press for our new research which shows Ofgem could save energy consumers a further £1.7 billion during the next set of energy network price controls (RIIO-2).

The full press release is on our website.

National

Energy

Consumer charity urges tougher crackdown on British energy returns

Financial Times, 11/09/2020, Nathalie Thomas

Citizens Advice is urging Britain’s energy regulator, Ofgem, to take an even harder stance on the returns energy network companies should be allowed to earn from next year, arguing an additional £1.7bn could be saved from consumers’ bills.

Citizens Advice has become a “significant voice” in the debate, says the FT, since our Missing Billions report in 2017 which claimed the energy networks were making “eye-watering profits” at the expense of the consumer.

The regulator subsequently promised to take a tougher approach on future price controls, which start next year for owners of national gas and electricity infrastructure, plus local gas grids.

Dame Gillian Guy said the networks had been “aggressively pushing back against the regulator’s proposals” but “the only thing really at risk here are the excessive profits these companies have made by overcharging consumers.”

The Times also carried our research in an article by Energy Editor Emily Gosden which described Citizens Advice as a “leading critic” of the current eight year price control.

Citizens Advice Head of Energy Networks, Stew Horne, said: “Most UK energy networks aren’t on the open market, so Ofgem has to estimate what investors would pay to invest in these companies. One of the things they look at is how risky they are.

“There is good evidence Ofgem has overestimated this, which would allow networks to make higher returns than they would in a competitive market. These changes could save consumers £1.7 billion over the course of the price control.”

The story was also written up by the Press Association and this version was used by the Daily Mail Online and regional papers such as the Express and Star in the Midlands. It’s also been covered by industry focused news outlets such as Energy Live News.

School uniforms

Parents urged to check if they can get back to school help – from tax credits to free meals and uniforms

The Sun, 08/09/20

Image result for school uniforms hung up

Parents whose circumstances have changed due to coronavirus are being urged to check if they can get help towards school costs.

Charity Citizens Advice says it’s had double the number of visits to the Help With School Costs page on its website compared to last year.

Rachel Ingleby, benefits expert at Citizens Advice, said: “We know the start of the school year can be a stretch for people’s budgets, particularly if you’re on a low income.

“If you’ve claimed benefits for the first time during this pandemic, or have seen your circumstances change, it’s worth checking whether you can apply for extra help with costs such as school lunches, transport or uniforms.”

See the full press release here.

Childcare

The new school year will not end the childcare crisis

Independent, 09/09/20

With the traditional September restart come warnings of renewed and continuing threats to the incomes of millions of families, according to the Independent.

It says as the new term begins, a revised sense of normal emerges and empathy over childcare crises disappears, thousands of parents and carers – especially females who are statistically more likely to be in highly impacted industries – are still missing out on their usual forms of childcare, unavoidably putting their livelihoods at even greater risk in the process.

Citizens Advice, which has started training up its advisers for a wave of redundancies, has warned that parents and carers are at least twice as likely to lose their job as the rest of the working population with two in five parents or carers at risk of redundancy, alongside shielders and disabled people.

Energy autoswitching sites

Why you should let robots manage your money

The Times (£), 05/09/2020, Holly Thomas

Image result for energy autoswitching sites

In an article extolling the virtues of services that can automate our finances, from finding the cheapest energy supplier to playing the stock market, The Times also drew attention to our report back in March on the pitfalls of using autoswitching companies.

We said energy autoswitching sites, which are not regulated, were failing to do proper comparisons and that some autoswitchers were comparing tariffs from fewer than 15 out of about 70 possible energy suppliers.

As a result some customers were paying £70 a year more than if they had searched and switched themselves.

The original press release can be found here.

In other news

Furlough ‘must be extended’ to avoid mass unemployment, say MPs – BBC News.

Homelessness: thousands helped during pandemic but problem remains – Sky News.

Student finance: ‘It’s tough to find money for the bills’.

Freeze on national living wage would be totally wrong, says TUC.