Category Archives: Consumer Issues

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CAB News 27 March 2020

Friday 27 March 2020

Citizens Advice has responded to the Chancellor’s self-employed announcement.

National

Self-Employed

Citizens Advice responds to Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

26/03/2020

Citizens Advice has responded to the Chancellor’s announcement on support for those who are self-employed.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The government has rightly taken bold action to support the millions of self-employed people who could otherwise struggle to keep their heads above water during this national emergency.

“This scheme will understandably take some time to set up, so the focus should now be on cushioning people from an immediate financial shock.

“With the benefits system under immense pressure, bill holidays and a pause on debt collections could help to ease the strain on family incomes. We look forward to working with the government to make sure no one falls into unmanageable debt as a result of this public health crisis.”

Data

Busiest week in history for the Citizens Advice website

Peston, 25/03/2020 (clip starts 39:45 – you may need to sign in)

Citizens Advice’s web data shows a clear picture of the changing narrative of how the coronavirus crisis is affecting people in the UK.

It was featured on the Peston show to highlight the type of things people need help with, such as redundancy, sick pay and how to pay bills. See the full press release.

Bailiffs

Bailiff action should be banned during crisis, debt charities say

Your Money, 25/03/2020

Citizens Advice, along with the Money Advice Trust and StepChange, sent a joint letter to the government calling on it to tell local authorities to suspend bailiff action for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Aggressive collection of council tax at a time when people are concerned about the health and financial consequences of Covid-19 is plain wrong.

“The government must urgently stop bailiffs collecting these arrears for the duration of the outbreak and put in place measures to prevent council tax bills forcing people into spiralling debt.”

Consumer Rights

Coronavirus consumer rights: how to claim refunds for cancelled concerts, sports fixtures and festivals

The Telegraph, 24/03/2020

The Telegraph has included information from Citizens Advice on what to do if you had tickets for an event that has been cancelled.

Jan Carton, of Citizens Advice, said to keep checking the information from the official seller or organiser to ensure you’re up to date.

Ms Carton also warned that people need to be on the lookout for scammers.

She said: “If your event is cancelled and people or companies offer their services to try to recover money on your behalf, make sure that you’re looking out for the signs of a potential scam.”

Energy

How to top up your prepayment meter if you can’t go outside

Daily Express, 24/03/2020

The Daily Express has included information on how to top up your prepayment meter if you’re self-isolating, following Citizens Advice’s good practice guidance for energy suppliers.

It said, according to Citizens Advice, there are steps to take to ensure you still have power.

  • Contact your supplier and tell them you are unable to top up due to the Government guidelines.

  • Contact details for your supplier can be found on your bill or on their website.

  • Then, your provider can help to find other ways to keep your energy supply connected.

Housing

UK eviction ban promise broken, say critics

The Guardian, 24/03/2020

The “complete ban” on evictions promised by the government has been widely criticised after it emerged that the coronavirus bill merely extends the notice required for possession.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Simply extending notice periods to three months cannot be seen as ‘job done’.

“It means that people dealing with unimaginable financial uncertainty still face the prospect of being served with an eviction notice.

“Over the coming days, the government must keep their promise and add to these changes to make sure no one loses the roof over their head as a result of coronavirus.”

Home Schooling

Working parents braced for home schooling their children

FT.com, 20/03/2020, Lucy Warwick-Ching

The Financial Times has included information from Citizens Advice about the right to time off to look after children.

It said: “According to Citizens Advice, everyone is allowed a reasonable amount of time off to deal with an emergency. It’s important to note that what counts as “reasonable” depends on the circumstances.”

In other news

Supermarkets to get government list of vulnerable people.

People urged not to move house.

Clap for our Carers: National applause for coronavirus health workers.


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CAB News 20 March 2020

Image result for no new eviction proceedings citizens advice

Friday 20 March 2020

The government has followed our recommendation and announced that no new eviction proceedings for tenants in either social or private rented housing can begin for at least three months.

Dame Gillian Guy said: “This news will come as a huge relief to many people. These are extraordinary times and it’s great to see the government stepping up and acting quickly to make sure people don’t lose their homes as a result of this crisis.”

Gillian’s full statement can be found here.

National

Coronavirus

What tenants and landlords can do when rent is a problem

This is Money, 19/03/2020, Will Kirkman

Tenants are already struggling to pay rent among the coronavirus outbreak.

Around five million households in the UK live in private rented accommodation and many of these could struggle to pay the bills if they need to take time off work.

The government yesterday announced measures to protect tenants from eviction for at least three months in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rachael Gore, senior housing expert at Citizens Advice, said : “If you’re struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord straight away.

“You should explain the situation and could ask for more time to pay or ask to catch up any missed payments by instalments.

“If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, it’s a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered.”

Newsbeat on Radio One also listed our advice for tenants on its lunchtime programme.

We need a Crisis Minimum Income of £180 a week  

BBC News and LBC, 19/03/2020

Joe Lane, Principal Policy Manager at Citizens Advice, was interviewed on the BBC News Channel yesterday about our recommendation for the government to introduce a Crisis Minimum Income of £180/week to help people afford the basics during the coronavirus pandemic.

The interview was also featured on BBC 5 Live and many regional BBC stations. Our call for Crisis Minimum Income was also featured in the Guardian.

Kayley Hignell, Head of Families, Welfare and Work, also appeared on LBC radio to explain the rules on benefits and sick pay, and to call for more protection for individuals.

Energy

Utility suppliers will not cut off meters during outbreak

Independent, 19/03/2020

Citizens Advice launched best practice guidance for energy suppliers on how to support consumers who need extra help or reassurance during the coronavirus outbreak.

Our calls have been featured in the Independent, the Daily Express, The Sun and The Times.

Energy suppliers offer support plan for struggling customers

The Telegraph, 19/03/2020, p.9, Christopher Hope

New government guidance for energy suppliers on how to support customers during the coronavirus outbreak has been featured in many national newspapers.

Citizens Advice worked with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as the energy industry to formulate the new advice.

Dame Gillian Guy told The Telegraph: “Making sure people have warm homes and don’t face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential.”

The Mirror, and The Daily Mail were among other papers who carried Gillian’s comments.

Will parents be given paid leave to stay at home?

The Mirror, 18/03/2020, Emma Munbodh

It’s ‘schools out’ from Friday, but even before yesterday’s announcement several national newspapers wanted to pass on our advice to parents worried about taking time off during the coronavirus outbreak.

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

“Your employer can’t refuse you dependent leave if you have no other choice, and you can’t be disciplined or sacked for taking the time off.”

In The Metro Matthew Bradbury, employment expert at Citizens Advice clarified the position on unpaid leave:

He said: “An employer can ask you not to attend work, but they would have to pay you unless there’s a clause in your contract which allows them to suspend you without pay in specific circumstances.”

Advice

Can your employer force you to take unpaid leave?

The Metro, 16/03/2020, Zaina Alibhai

The national press continue to use our advice to inform the public about their rights during the coronavirus outbreak.

Employment expert Matthew Bradbury, told the Metro that an employer can ask you not to attend work, but unless there’s a specific clause in your contract, they have to continue to pay you

Matthew added: “If you’re an agency worker or on a zero hours contract, you are probably not entitled to be paid if your employer instructs you not to come to work. If you’re in this situation, you should speak to your employment agency or employer and check your contract.”

Coronavirus: what are our rights?

BBC News, 13/03/2020

The unprecedented coronavirus outbreak is throwing up many different dilemmas and Citizens Advice is being asked to comment across the media.

Head of External Affairs Katie Martin appeared on the BBC News Channel on Friday to talk about people’s rights to sick pay, and refunds for cancelled events and travel plans.

Katie was also asked for advice if we see widespread school closures. Katie said many employers might have “exceptional policies in place” and people should talk to their employer in the first instance.

Those who are self employed may have to use the benefits system.

Among the national papers featuring our guidance, The Independent looked at the situation for people in private rented accommodation worried about paying their rent:

“If you’re struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord straight away,” said senior housing expert Rachael Gore.

“If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, it’s a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered.

“You should get advice if you can’t reach an agreement because there is a risk that your landlord might try to evict you.”

In other news

Tens of thousands of retired medics asked to return to NHS.

Chancellor prepares wage package rescue plan.

Disaster relief fund launched to help most vulnerable.

Community aid groups set up across UK .

Unions attack ‘paltry’ sick pay for self-isolating couriers.