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CAB News 12 April 2019

Friday 12 April 2019

The cross-party House of Commons justice committee has said that bailiffs in the UK should be independently regulated and forced to wear body cameras when visiting debtors’ homes.

National

Debt

MPs call for bailiffs to be independently regulated

Financial Times (subscription required), 11/04/2019, p.3, Naomi Rovnick

Members of the justice committee said debt enforcement was “under-regulated” and reforms introduced in 2014 to ensure bailiffs were not acting aggressively were not fit for purpose.

The report states: “There should be a regulator, which should be able to stop unfit enforcement agents and companies from practising.” It adds that because bailiffs are paid by debtors, who are “some of the poorest people in society”, it is “vital that [they] are proportionate”.

The article references Citizens Advice client, Mark Davey, who is unemployed and has a mental health condition. He reports that bailiffs had threatened and verbally abused him over the phone after he fell behind with council tax payments last year.

Gillian Guy said “bailiffs regularly break the rules, as our evidence has proved.” She added it was “excellent to see MPs from across all parties call for a regulator to crack down on the bailiff industry” and urged the MoJ to “introduce these reforms as a matter of urgency”.

This story was also picked up in BBC News, Mirror, Guardian, and HuffPost.

Bailiffs could be forced to wear body-cams when they visit homes

Mail Online, 11/04/2019, George Nixon

Our response to the Justice Select Committee’s call for an independent bailiff regulator and an complaints process that’s separate from enforcement firms was featured in the Mail Online.

Gillian said: “It’s excellent to see MPs from across all parties call for a regulator to crack down on the bailiff industry. They’ve also rightly called for a complaints process to be established so problems are dealt with independently of the bailiff industry and outside the court system.

“Bailiffs regularly break the rules, as our evidence has proved. In the past year we’ve seen a 16 per cent increase in bailiff-related issues. All eyes will now be on the Ministry of Justice, which must introduce these reforms as a matter of urgency.”

This story was also covered by the Huffington Post.

Consumer

Home insurance BOMBSHELL: Customers ‘paying HUNDREDS of pounds more with loyalty PENALTY’

Daily Express, 11/04/2019, Levi Winchester

The Express Online covered our research that showed loyal customers who have been with their home insurance company for six years or more are propping up firms’ profits.

We found on average, customers were forking out £325 for their sixth year of insurance, compared to new customers who were paying £172.

Gillian said: “What makes this worse is that vulnerable people are likely to be the most loyal to their provider.

“Since we submitted our super-complaint about the loyalty penalty, some companies have rightly promised to treat their customers better, yet many more are still choosing to make their profits off their most loyal and vulnerable consumers.”

Loyalty Penalty

Loyal insurance customers ‘subsidise everyone else’

The Daily Telegraph, 10/04/2019, p4, Katie Morley

The Telegraph ran our insurance story on page 4, revealing after six years a loyal insurance customer could typically have paid £1,596 – £500 more than someone who spends every year as a new customer.

The piece highlighted the case of one 76-year-old woman with arthritis who came to use for help who had been with the same company for more than 10 years. She received a renewal letter increasing her premium from £1,500 to £3,500 a year.

Gillian Guy said: “Since we submitted our super-complaint about the loyalty penalty, some companies have rightly promised to treat their customers better, yet many more are still choosing to make their profits off their most loyal and vulnerable consumers.”

Energy

We’re all missing out on smart meter savings

The Independent, 07/04/2019, Felicity Hannah

Our call to push back the energy smart meter rollout deadline to 2023 was featured in the Independent over the weekend.

The story followed an update last week that revealed energy companies have fallen further behind in their bid to have the meters installed in homes across the country by 2020.

Gillian Guy said: “Smart meters will provide benefits to consumers.

“They put the customer in control – whether that’s by more accurate billing or helping them consider how to reduce the amount of energy they use.”

She added: “The deadline for smart meters to be installed in all homes and small businesses by the end of 2020 remains unrealistic.

Universal Credit

Help to Claim

Universal Credit: People applying for the benefit to have dedicated support from new Citizens Advice service

iNews, 01/04/2019, Serina Sandhu

Image result for help to claim universal credit citizens advice

Citizens Advice will offer prospective Universal Credit claimants support through its “Help to Claim” service, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

“Today we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit,” said Gillian Guy. “We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to millions of people every year, and have already helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed. “Delivering this new service will give us even greater insight into people’s experiences. We’ll use that knowledge to continue to call for improvements so the Universal Credit system works for the people we help,” she added.

There has also been a huge amount of local coverage, including Pendle Today, Coventry Telegraph, Plymouth Herald, BBC Radio Humberside (2:35:10), Romford Recorder, Skem News, Banbury Guardian, and Yorkshire Coast Radio.

In other news

A resident who highlighted segregated facilities at his housing development has said he is being punished for doing so.

The Government pledges to improve the way Council Tax debt is recovered.

Carers and families are angry the government’s social care plans have been delayed.

Two-thirds of councils say they cannot afford to comply with the Homelessness Reduction Act.

The UK is planning an independent watchdog to regulate social media companies.

Councils are spending millions on agency social workers amid a recruiting crisis.