CAB News 22 February 2019

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CAB News 22 February 2019

Friday 22 February 2019

Ofgem has banned energy supplier Solarplicity from taking on new customers for three months.

National

Energy firm Solarplicity banned from taking on new customers

BBC, 22/02/2019

Energy supplier Solarplicity has been banned from taking on new customers for three months due to its poor switching process and customer service.

Gillian Guy said: “Solarplicity languishes at the bottom of our energy star rating league table…We’ve shared our concerns about the service consumers are getting with both Solarplicity and Ofgem. It’s now up to Solarplicity to address these matters and start delivering for its customers.”

Debt

Voice of the Mirror – It’s time we reined in bailiffs

Daily Mirror, 16/02/2019, p8

The Daily Mirror echoed our call for bailiffs to be independently regulated in its leader column in Saturday’s newspaper.

It came after we, as part of the Taking Control group with 10 other debt organisations, submitted our evidence to the government, which is investigating bailiff reform.

The Mirror leader used our evidence that showed a sharp rise in the number of people who come to use seeking help with bailiffs.

“Bailiffs are a law unto themselves, overseen by a trade body which appears to have no interest in policing its profession,” the leader said.

“It is time for more robust enforcement of the industry. Bailiffs should be subject to an independent regulator, with a code of conduct.”

The Mirror also ran a story on Saturday on page 4 about a group of MPs, which is regularly briefed by Citizens Advice with our evidence, who are calling for a bailiff regulator.

11 charities say bailiffs continue to flout rules

Mail Online, 15/02/2019, George Nixon

Our response to the Ministry of Justice’s call for evidence on bailiff reform was also covered in the Mail Online.

The story revealed that polling carried out by ourselves and Stepchange found 86% of the public think that bailiffs should be independently regulated.

Gillian Guy said: “The Ministry of Justice must move to establish independent bailiff regulation to stop harm being inflicted on people, especially those in vulnerable situations due to their debt or ill health.

“We’re concerned that without a regulator, any attempts to improve practice in the sector will fail to protect people.

“They also need to create an independent complaints process, like in financial services, so complaints about bailiffs are dealt with impartially.”

‘It’s difficult for people to enforce their rights’

LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari show, 15/02/2019

Our Policy Manager Joe Lane talked to Nick Ferrari on LBC radio on Friday about the problems with the bailiff industry.

“The reason why these rules aren’t working is they’re very difficult to enforce,” Joe said. “There’s no one to hold these bailiffs to account.

“Citizens Advice helped 40,000 people last year with problems related to bailiffs.”

Regional

Universal credit sees ‘crisis loans’ doubled

Shields Gazette, 20/02/2019, p.5, James Harrison

Applications for ‘crisis loans’ to help struggling families in South Tyneside have jumped by 200% since the introduction of Universal Credit. Local councillors have been told that since the rollout of Universal Credit rent arrears for council tenants claiming it have increased to more than £800,000.

The article mentions that from April, responsibility to help claimants manage their funds is being “handed over to” Citizens Advice.

Council puts more steps in place to deal with people in financial difficulty

 South Yorkshire Times, 19/02/2019, Stephanie Bateman

Karen Bothamley, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Doncaster Borough, spoke to the Times after their local authority signed up to the Citizens Advice-designed Council Tax Protocol.

The document is a plan designed to help people struggling to pay their council tax by engaging advice services early.

Karen said: “We recognise that councils are under huge pressures to collect council tax due to ever-increasing budget restraints. However, when we work with the council to identify those who need support from an early stage it helps to prevent further charges and worries further down the line.”

Thousands of Leeds households confronted by bailiffs over council tax debt

Leeds Live, 19/02/2019, Nathan Hyde

Image result for citizens advice council tax protocol

An investigation into council tax use of bailiffs has featured our advice on what to do when you fall behind on your council tax bills.

“If you ignore Council Tax arrears, it’s likely your council will take you to court quickly to get all the money at once. You’ll have to pay court costs and possibly bailiff fees as well as your debt, which can add hundreds of pounds to your bill,” the advice reads.

“Ask your council if they’ll let you pay your Council Tax in smaller amounts.”

In other news

The number of students declaring mental health problems on arrival at university has increased by 73 per cent in the last 3 years.

MPs are demanding urgent regulation of “digital gangsters” Facebook.

Rail operators have called for a fare rules shake-up.


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