Category Archives: News

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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 18 September 2020

Friday 18 September 2020

Our housing asks and advice appear in the media today.

National

Housing

Thousands of renters at risk of homelessness as eviction ban ends on Sunday

Mirror.co.uk, 17/09/2020, Emma Munbodh

Thousands of renters are facing a housing crisis from Monday as a ban on evictions comes to an end in England and Wales.

Citizens Advice says you can’t be evicted if you weren’t given the correct notice period. You can also start a challenge if you believe there isn’t a good enough reason for you to leave your home.

If you can’t pay your rent, the first thing you should do is speak to your landlord. Get in touch with Citizens Advice as you may also qualify for financial support.

Charity demands grants for tenants with Coronavirus arrears

Central Housing Group, 17/09/2020,

Image result for central housing group

Citizens Advice is calling for tenants with arrears directly created by the Coronavirus to be offered government grants to help them out of debt.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says this should be the principle goal of government in the four week breathing space created by the eviction ban U-turn announced on Friday.

“We’re really pleased the government has stepped in to keep its promise that no renter will lose their home because of the Coronavirus pandemic – for now at least. During this extended pause on new eviction proceedings, we hope the government will work with Citizens Advice and others to put in place a series of protections which will help those who’ve built up rent arrears get back on their feet.

“We’d like to see funding for a dedicated set of protections, including measures such as grants for those in arrears due to Coronavirus. This would not only directly help those affected, but also contribute towards consumer confidence and the economic recovery.”

“Can I get evicted because I’m struggling with rent?”: your key questions about renting and coronavirus

Stylist Magazine, 16/09/2020, Anna Brech

Though the government has introduced some measures to try and protect private renters some campaign groups like Citizens Advice say these measures do not go far enough.

The article includes the charity’s calls for: Ring-fenced grants for renters already in receipt of government benefits, or those who would otherwise be eligible for benefits but have no recourse to public funds; and Government-backed interest-free loans for other tenants who can afford to pay them back, such as those who have been furloughed.

Employment

Citizens Advice on hand to help with redundancy issues

Times Radio, 16/09/2020, (clip starting 2.43:30)

Minesh Patel, Principal Policy Manager was on Times Radio last night speaking about the support available for people in light of rising unemployment.

Minesh said: “We’ve been seeing a lot of people during this period and there have been changes in the types of issues people are coming to us with. At the moment we’re helping one person every two minutes with a redundancy issue. That’s really showing the scale of the problem – which mirrors what we’ve seen in the [ONS] stats published today.”

“We’re also supporting people on benefits and Universal Credit, issues around paying bills and rent arrears. It’s really important that people remember they aren’t alone, and there is advice out there.”

There was further pick up of our redundancy advice release by HuffPost, the Mirror, and the Cranfield and Marston Vale Chronicle.

Seven things to check if you’re at risk of redundancy as furlough job cuts loom

The Sun Online, 14/09/2020, Lynsey Barber

Image result for furlough jobs cuts

With the furlough scheme soon coming to an end, many workers are now facing redundancy instead.

Tracey Moss, senior employment expert at Citizens Advice said: “If you’re at risk of redundancy, it’s important to know you do have rights to help protect you from unfair dismissal and to ensure you’re paid what you’re owed.”

Tracey talks readers through what they need to know if they’re facing redundancy.

Data

‘Divorce boom’ forecast as lockdown sees advice queries rise

BBC News, 14/09/2020, Michael Race

Citizens Advice said divorce guidance searches had risen since April after a drop in visits when lockdown started. It said views on its divorce webpage on the first September weekend were up 25% compared with the same date in 2019. Searches for advice about getting a divorce peaked on Sundays, with the designated web page being in the top two most-viewed on its website for the past four weekends.

Tom MacInnes, chief analyst for Citizens Advice, said: “We know that this pandemic has put an enormous strain on people financially but our data shows that strain is also being felt in people’s relationships.”

Eviction rights

Know your eviction rights

BBC 1Xtra, 13/09/2020, 54 minutes 50 seconds in

Image result for eviction rights

Senior Housing Expert Amy Hughes gives advice to renters ahead of the ending of the eviction ban on 20 September.

Amy’s top 5 ‘need to knows’ included ‘it’s good to talk’ – try to come to an arrangement with your landlord; and make sure you understand the process – and that your landlord does too.

In other news

A government campaign aimed at helping British travellers prepare for Brexit changes is being launched today.

National Audit Office says it will investigate procurement amid concern over level of furlough scheme abuse.

BT broadband bills could reach £100,000 for rural users.


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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.