Category Archives: News

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CAB News 24 January 2020

Image result for public on net zero emissions

Friday 24 January 2020

We have published our report Zero Sum which calls on the government to put the public at the heart of the process to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Broadcast coverage on our Zero Sums report continues.

National

Consumers need to be put in the centre of net zero goal

BBC News, Afternoon Live, 23/01/2020, 15:48

Dhara Vyas, Head of Future Energy Services at Citizens Advice spoke with BBC News. Dhara said that “82% of the public support the government ambitions” to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Dhara spoke about the government needing to support consumers with making decisions and help with costs.

Dhara also spoke with BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. Dhara said that “small changes like filling the kettle with only as much water as you need could save us £1.1billion and save 2 million tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.”

Energy

Citizens Advice warns government over ability to achieve net zero by 2050

City AM , 23/01/2020, Edward Thicknesse

Citizens Advice has issued a warning to the government saying that it risks fatally undermining the country’s ability to achieve net zero by 2050 unless it puts the public at the heart of the process.

According to a new report from the charity, which is the UK’s official consumer watchdog for energy, 82 per cent of people support the government’s commitment.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Public support for the changes needed to reach net zero is essential. Without it, the government risks fatally undermining the country’s ability to achieve a carbon neutral society, which is so urgently needed.

“The public overwhelmingly backs the net-zero target. But if people don’t understand what changes will be needed to get there and the process is complex and confusing, public support could quickly fall away.”

Loyalty Penalty

Regulator ‘slow’ to act against £4bn loyalty rip-off

The Times, 22/01/2020, p.38, Ali Hussain; Ben Martin [paywall]

Image result for loyalty penalty

Yesterday the Competition and Markets Authority’s Andrea Coscelli, said he was “pleased to see progress has been made in helping to stop people being penalised for their loyalty”. However, Citizens Advice said that only £318 million a year would be saved by consumers under measures announced by regulators when the inquiry into the ‘Loyalty Penalty’ began a year ago.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “At the current rate of progress, it would take over ten years to completely tackle the loyalty penalty.”

Ms Guy called for regulators to step up their efforts urgently. The charity is hoping for better progress by July, when the authority is due to provide another update, or it will call for government intervention.

Energy

Four simple ways to cut energy usage to reduce bills and emissions

Mail Online UK, 21/01/2020, Grace Gausden

Image result for energy uses and emissions

More than a third of households have not made changes to their energy usage in recent years, despite the opportunity to save hundreds of pounds, new research claims.

This equates to nearly 10 million households that may need more help and encouragement with ways to save money and reduce household emissions.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, added: ‘Our homes are responsible for nearly a quarter of British carbon emissions, so this is a great opportunity to really make a difference. Reducing the amount of energy we use cuts our household bills, so going greener can help you keep out of the red.’

Regional

Energy

Mark Tami MP backs Big Energy Saving Week with Citizens Advice

Wrexham Leader, 20/01/2020, Andrew Nuttall

Alyn and Deeside MP, Mark Tami, has joined forces with Citizens Advice Flintshire to back Big Energy Saving Week. Mark visited the charity’s office and spoke to staff and volunteers about their price comparison tool which saves consumers thousands of pounds each year.

Sian Mather, of Citizens Advice Flintshire, said: “Citizens Advice Flintshire has lots of information and advice on how to save energy and cut household bills. This could range from everyday actions, such as reducing how much water you put in the kettle, to bigger projects like insulating your home.

“Our advisors and volunteers will also be able to help with your all your queries about saving energy and money, including switching to a cheaper energy tariff, or accessing extra grants and benefits.”

In the Mirror, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “This year Big Energy Saving Week is all about how we can make small changes to our everyday lives that help save money and have a positive impact on the environment.

The campaign was also mentioned on BBC Breakfast. Steven Baker from Citizens Advice Oxford spoke on BBC Radio Oxford saying that when it comes to energy “You don’t get rewarded for loyalty. If you let your tariff lapse you can end up paying a lot more than you need to be.”

In other news

The planting of 100 million trees a year in the UK to tackle the climate emergency could be paid for by new carbon levies on oil companies and airlines, the government’s official climate adviser has proposed.

Boris Johnson will scrap a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants arriving after Brexit under his plans for an Australian-style points system.

The Financial Conduct Authority cannot stop Google making millions from other companies’ scam advertising or misleading investments, it says.


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CAB News 10 January 2020

Image result for loyalty penalty

Friday 10 January 2020

Yesterday two regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority and Ofcom, announced changes in their markets to help stamp out the loyalty penalty. We responded to both.

National

Banks

Can banks be forced to offer better savings rates? Watchdog considers imposing ”minimum interest rate” but experts fear race to the bottom

Mail Online UK, 09/01/2020, George Nixon

Under a consultation published yesterday by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), all savings account providers will have to set a single rate across all easy-access accounts which can be compared by consumers.

Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition, said the proposals ‘will prevent firms from gradually reducing interest rates over time and make them compete for all their customers.’

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘It’s been over a year since we submitted a super-complaint that found loyal customers are being penalised to the tune of £1.1billion a year when it comes to their hard-earned savings.

Gillian continues that the proposal could save people £260 million a year, and adds ‘The regulator must now hold its nerve and make sure these proposals are introduced to stop loyal customers being penalised.’

Banks will have to fix savings rates on easy access accounts helping customers earn £260 million more in interest

The Sun, 09/01/2020, Alice Grahnsloyal cu

Image result for banks have to fix savings rates

Banks will have to offer a fixed savings rate to all easy access customers, in a bid to stop banks gradually reducing rates for loyal customers.
It comes after Citizens Advice submitted a super-complaint on the loyalty penalty – in the mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings markets – to the CMA.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s been over a year since we submitted a super-complaint that found loyal customers are being penalised to the tune of £1.1 billion a year when it comes to their hard-earned savings.

“It’s great to see the FCA are cracking down on the loyalty penalty and introducing a new single easy access rate, a move it predicts will save people £260 million a year.

“The regulator must now hold its nerve and make sure these proposals are introduced to stop loyal customers being penalised.”

Here’s the full Citizens Advice response to the FCA announcement on cash savings.

Energy

Energy customers hit with backdated bills

BBC, 10/01/2020, Lora Jones

In 2018 Ofgem banned companies from back-billing customers more than 12 months earlier. The ban was introduced to ensure customers wouldn’t be left struggling financially after receiving unexpected bills.

However in 2019 Citizens Advice said it helped 2,691 people in England and Wales with catch-up bills.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said that a “large and unexpected bill is very worrying for anyone who receives it”.

Gillian added: “Customers who think their gas or electricity supplier may be billing them unfairly should contact the company directly in the first instance.”

Consumer

Mobile users over-charged for phones could get compensation in new PPI-style scandal

Mirror, 04/01/2019, Stephen Hayward

Mobile phone giants charging for handsets that customers have already paid off could face a flood of PPI-style compensation claims says the Mirror.

The calls come ahead of new industry measures designed to cut phone bills. New guidelines will mean users automatically roll on to a cheaper sim-only plan, where they pay for airtime only, at the end of their contract.

A Citizens Advice report in 2018 estimated four million users had paid £500 million for sets they owned.

Regional

103 Stoke-on-Trent council tenants evicted for not paying their rent in past 12 months – and here’s where they lived

Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel, 06/01/2020, Richard Ault

More than 100 Stoke-on-Trent council tenants have been evicted from their homes over a 12-month period because they haven’t been able to pay their rent.

Simon Harris, chief executive of Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Many of these people are in a precarious financial situation. We see people who have been evicted due to the bedroom tax and people who are still affected by the benefit cap.

“If people genuinely can’t pay and have made efforts then that is a different situation. The benefit changes have meant some people are always going to struggle.”

Council tenants struggling on Universal Credit in Humberside

BBC Radio Humberside, 06/01/2020

Ray Davies project leader in Citizens Advice Hull and East Riding’s debt team says that in the local area 80% of council housing tenants on Universal Credit are in rent arrears. Ray explains that this reflects the national picture.

Ray continues that the five-week wait makes it difficult to manage money, and coupled with the fact that people only seek to earn £73.10 a week, it means they’re starting off on the back foot. As a result people frequently turn to payday loan companies which offer loans with huge interest.

Ray says that the local charity has seen great hardship and there’s a notable link between the introduction of Universal Credit in an area and foodbank use.

In other news

The government has been urged to consider imposing restrictions on pay-as-you-go mobile phones to prevent their illegal use.

Housing-benefit errors ‘making families homeless’.

Only one in eight bosses who pay workers less than the minimum wage are caught by government inspectors.

Bosses of Britain’s leading firms will be paid more within three working days of 2020 than the average employees’ annual wage.


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CAB News 03 January 2020

Friday 03 January 2020

Our patron, the Princess Royal, has said volunteers “don’t need certificates to make a difference.”

And coverage of the consumer service’s top five issues of 2019 continues with a write-up in The Mirror.

National

Princess Anne

Princess Anne: ‘You don’t need qualifications to make a difference’

The Telegraph, 27/12/2019, Lucy Denyer

Princess Anne told the Telegraph she questions whether modern life is too obsessed with qualifications, especially when it comes to the many volunteers she comes into contact with.

“I had this discussion only yesterday!” she exclaims, “somebody said ‘do I need to have the right qualifications to be a volunteer’, and I said, by definition, you just want to be a volunteer!

“That’s the whole point! Having the qualifications is not necessarily what you’re looking for – you want somebody who is prepared to give up their time to help. And I think sometimes you need to get back to that point and say, thank you for wanting to help.”

Consumer

Consumer five biggest complaints revealed by Citizens Advice

BBC, 31/12/2019

Used cars have again topped the list of consumer complaints after millions of people sought help from a charity for a variety of problems.

Citizens Advice, which runs a national consumer helpline and website, said it was contacted regarding 57,000 cases of issues with used vehicles.

The charity received 500,000 calls and 3.6 million website visits in 2019.

“We don’t want people to let their consumer issues follow them into 2020 as, more often than not, simple steps can be taken to avoid problems,” said Kate Hobson, of Citizens Advice.

These figures were also repeated on a BBC Radio 4 news bulletin.

Debt

How to conquer debt in 2020: Five key steps to take yourself out of the red in the new decade and wrangle control of your finances

Mail Online UK, 31/12/2019, Grace Gausden

Britons are £45 billion more in debt than they were a decade ago when it comes to personal loans and credit cards.

Half of those already in debt will be in a worse financial position after Christmas with 20 percent worried they will be unable to recover, according to research from YouGov.

Graham O’Malley, debt expert at Citizens Advice, said there are six simple steps you can take to start sorting out your debts. These include: working out how much you owe and can pay, prioritising your debts, creating a budget by adding up your essential living costs, and paying urgent debts.

80th Anniversary

Going Underground: Citizens Advice in World War II

BBC Four, Wartime Farm Christmas, 19/12/2019, 8:50pm (about 50″ into clip)

We end our 80th year with a mention for what must be one of our most unusual offices in a BBC Four documentary.

It was located in Chislehurst Caves on the edge of London, 22 miles of tunnels that became an underground town, housing 15,000 people sheltering from the Nazi bombing campaign during the Second World War.

There were so many people living underground for weeks, or even months at a time, that it raised the temperature in the caves. It didn’t return to normal for a year after the war.

As well as a Citizens Advice office, there was a chapel and a hospital. One baby was born underground and named ‘Cavina’ as she was born in a cave – her thoughts on this in later life remain unrecorded.

Scams

“I don’t have a computer… but a software firm still took my cash for years”

The Mail on Sunday, 22/12/2019, p.82, Toby Walne

The Mail on Sunday featured the story of a Suez veteran, who had payments taken from his credit card for several years, to highlight a relatively new type of scam in which unscrupulous firms take advantage of so-called continuous payment authorities to take money from people without their knowledge.

Gillian Guy told the paper: “A key concern is that rogue firms can use continuous payment authorities to take payments when they want, for as much as they want, and without a customer even being told it is happening.”

She added: “Four in ten people find it more difficult to cancel than to sign up to such a subscription deal – whether for computer software or something else. Often people are lured in because of a free trial and then forget all about it. You can end up paying for a service you do not want or even use.”

In other news

Three energy firms to pay £10.5m for failings over August blackout.

Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 2.7% more for train tickets.