Category Archives: News

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CAB News 15 January 2021

Friday 15 January 2021

There’s been more national and regional coverage of our reaction to the extension of the ban on bailiff enforced evictions.

National

Advice

How to cope with the… Covid cliff edge

Metro, 13/01/2021, Rosie Murray-west

The Metro has used our framing of the end of covid protections as a “cliff edge” – a phrase we coined in our messaging during the first lockdown – in a report looking at how people’s finances are being stretched by the ongoing crisis.

The feature covered several areas in which people are struggling with their finances. Alistair Cromwell was quoted on the difficulties facing renters:

“Unlike people who own their homes, private tenants have had no structured way to defer payments but instead have had to try to keep up with their rent and bills as best they can in a time of great uncertainty and hardship,” said Alistair.

Housing

Evictions ban extended but concerns remain

FT Advisor, 11/01/2021, Chloe Cheung

The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions has been extended for at least six weeks in England to help protect renters from the effects of the pandemic.

Alistair Cromwell’s said: “The government has made the right decision to extend this protection. Renters who are struggling with arrears shouldn’t face the prospect of losing the roof over their head when everyone is being asked to stay at home.”

But he added that hundreds of thousands of people were still in arrears that would “continue to hang over them”, recommending the government implement targeted financial support for tenants in England who have fallen behind on their rent.

Alistair’s statement was carried by several national papers in the days following last Friday’s announcement of the extension, and also appears on a number of landlord focused websites. The full response is on our website.

And in the South West Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Cornwall, Gill Pipkin, was interviewed on the regional evening news programme about the issue.

Eviction bans in England and Wales are extended

BBC News Online, 09/01/2021, Kevin Peachey

Eviction bans in England and Wales have been extended, following a similar move in Scotland on Thursday.

The move will mean eviction notices – which could have started again this Monday – will not be served for six weeks in England and longer in Wales.

The story on BBC Online used our latest research showing half a million private tenants in the UK are behind with their rent, and that for many this is a new problem: 58% were not in arrears last February, before the pandemic hit people’s jobs and finances. Those who had fallen behind on rent owed at average of £730.

Our case study, Jacob, was also featured: “I’ve no idea what might happen, and that’s the scary thing. Every day I’m waiting for a letter to say that he [the landlord] wants to sell the place, or change the tenancy or something like that,” he said.

Alistair Cromwell’s statement was used by the Independent in its coverage of the story. He said: “The government has made the right decision to extend this protection. Renters who are struggling with arrears shouldn’t face the prospect of losing the roof over their head when everyone is being asked to stay at home.

“However, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in arrears and this debt will continue to hang over them. The government should put in place targeted financial support for tenants in England who’ve fallen behind on their rent.”

Just days earlier the Financial Times, among other national papers, had written about our call for the eviction ban to be extended.

Regional

Advice

Calls to Citizens Advice Bolton “nearly doubled” after latest lockdown announcement

BBC Radio Manchester 07/01/2021, from (1hr 14 into clip)The Bolton News, 11/01/2021, Daniel Hopkins

The team at Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton has been inundated with calls from people needing legal advice and assistance, especially regarding work and childcare, since the new lockdown was announced.

Chief Officer, Richard Wilkinson, talked about these issues on BBC Radio Manchester and in the local paper. He said: “On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, our calls had basically doubled and it was very clearly on the back of the press briefing. Many people were in a state of panic.

Richard cited one woman who rang and had suddenly found herself without childcare on Tuesday as her five year old child’s school was closed.

Her boss at the care home where she worked demanded that she go in to work or risk being fired. The boss said that their firm “didn’t use the furlough scheme” and needed her in work.

She was told that she would have a very strong employment tribunal case if her boss took any action and Mr Wilkinson said that she had managed to change her hours.


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CAB News 08 January 2021

Friday 08 January 2021

Our latest research shows half a million private renters in the UK are behind on their rent, with protections against eviction due to expire this weekend we’ve called on the government to act and our report has featured across the national press.

National

Housing

Government under pressure to keep eviction ban

BBC Online, 06/01/2021, Brian Wheeler

Half a million private tenants in the UK are behind with their rent, according to research by Citizens Advice.

The average amount owed is more than £700, the charity says, and one in four private renters in arrears have been threatened with eviction or cancellation of contract by their landlord.

In the Mirror, Alistair Cromwell said: “Unlike people who own their homes, private tenants have had no structured way to defer payments but instead have had to try to keep up with their rent and bills as best they can in a time of great uncertainty and hardship.”

The Guardian, Huff Post, Express, Independent and the i, as well as a number of finance and property website such as Your Money and LandlordZone also carried the story. There was also coverage in regional dailies like the Manchester Evening News.

Debt

Tips for getting out of debt in 2021

Mail Online, 02/01/2021, Grace Gausden

The Daily Mail website kicked off the year with its seven tips for staying out of the red.

Graham O’Malley, senior debt expert at Citizens Advice, said: “Many service providers like banks and energy suppliers have put in place protections for people who’ve struggled to pay their bills during the pandemic.

‘So contact them to talk about your problems as soon as possible and what arrangements can be put in place. Mortgage holders, for example, have until the end of March to apply for a payment deferral.

‘If you’re worried about debt, your local Citizens Advice office can offer free and independent support to help you deal with your debts and get back on your feet.”

Employment

Bullied workers waiting a year for justice as tribunal backlog soars

Daily Mirror, 01/01/2021, Dan Bloom

The Employment Tribunal system now has a backlog of almost half a million cases – the highest since 2013 – while immigration, mental health, special needs and disability cases are all hit too.

Alistair Cromwell,said: “Employment tribunals are an essential part of protecting workers’ rights. That’s why sky high waiting times to have a case heard are so worrying.

“For people going through the system it can mean months of anxiety, with the possibility they’ll withdraw their case altogether.

“Recent emergency funding from the government is hugely welcome and recognises the scale of the problem. That funding needs to help improve capacity in the tribunal system as soon as possible.”

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice contacted by ’12 people a minute’

BBC News Online, 27/12/2020, Michael Race

New figures from Citizens Advice show three quarters of people seeking help with benefits or employment in 2020 had never contacted the charity before.

Many people made contact for the first time in their lives after losing jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity said.

The statistics, shared exclusively with the BBC, showed of 481,834 people seeking advice on benefits, 351,620 (73%) had never asked the charity for help before.

Similarly, 146,774 (83%) of 175,852 people needing help with employment issues sought advice for the first time.

“We’re seeing people who have always been employed, say for 20 years at the same company, and need help navigating the benefits system for the first time after being made redundant,” said Jamie McGlynn, a contact centre manager.

Universal Credit

‘It is embarrassing having to rely on family again’

BBC News Online, 24/12/2020, Kevin Peachy

After paying rent and essential bills, Adam Donkin has nothing left to pay the bus fare and buy his food. The 26-year-old said that meant he had to “let my pride go” and ask his parents for financial help.

Adam agreed to share his story to highlight our call for the £20 uplift to universal credit to be made permanent and was featured on the BBC website.

“A cut of £20 a week is £80 a month. Even when I was working, that was a lot of money,” Adam said.

Regional

Insecure work

Insecure workers face “triple hit” of pandemic hardship, says Citizens Advice

Your Money, About Manchester, 18/12/2020

Our report highlighting the “triple hit” faceing insecure workers as a result of the pandemic continues to be covered in the media.

New research from Citizens Advice found agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts, including “gig economy” workers, were more likely to have seen their employment rights violated, faced job losses and lost income during the pandemic compared to the rest of the working population.

More than half (52%) of insecure workers classed themselves as key workers.

Alex McColl, a frontline adviser at Citizens Advice Sheffield, said: “What really came across in this pandemic is just how precarious you are as an insecure worker. When tough times came around they were often the ones who lost their jobs, were denied access to the furlough scheme or saw wages withheld.”

“I spent a whole day advising care workers on zero-hours contracts. ”

Sharon has worked as a childcare assistant in a creche for more than 9 years. She was employed on a zero-hours contract despite working a set pattern of 18 hours a week.

When lockdown hit, Sharon’s workplace was shut and she was furloughed. In September Sharon’s employer took her off furlough but did not give her any work. Her employer said that she was expected to be on standby. Sharon asked to receive redundancy pay instead and she was refused despite her local Citizens Advice establishing that she likely met the legal definition of an employee and would therefore be eligible.

Sharon says: “It’s been a real struggle financially. My partner is having to make up the shortfall in our income and that’s put a strain on everything. We should be looking forward to Christmas but all I’m thinking about is paying the bills.

“It’s also been a struggle mentally. I try to stay positive as I’m sure there are people worse off than me, but it feels really hopeless given there are no jobs around. I thought being with my employer for a long time would give me some security, so it’s gutting to be in this situation.”