CAB News 22 November 2019

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CAB News 22 November 2019

Friday 22 November 2019

Citizens Advice’s call for the waiting time for Universal Credit to be reduced by bringing forward the first non-repayable payment to no later than two weeks into a claim, has been highlighted by the plight of a BBC screenwriter forced to go to a food bank for help while waiting for the benefit to be paid.

National

Universal Credit

Creator of BBC’s Rastamouse criticises Universal Credit after he is left needing help from food bank

My London, 19/11/2019, Owen Sheppard

The story of how the creator of the BBC children’s programme Rastamouse, screenwriter Michael de Souza, was forced to seek help from a food bank while waiting for his first Universal Credit payment to come through has the headlines.

Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Westminster, Shirley Springer, spoke about the issue and the call by Citizens Advice to reduce this waiting time.

Shirley said: “Things are improving with Universal Credit but it’s still a big issue. It takes the DWP five weeks to process a claim and that’s causing people a lot of difficulty.

“You can get an advance payment from the DWP and negotiate how much is paid back each week.”

Mr de Souza said: “I was concerned about being put on Universal Credit, because I had heard about the hardship it has caused people.

“I had to wait five weeks to get my first payment. I now get £317 per month.

“The amount of money you’re supposed to live on is just unbelievable. I actually couldn’t believe I was in this position. It has completely knocked me back.”

Trade

Subject

Ofgem rips up licences linked to energy suppliers

Energy Live, 21/11/2019

Our reaction, as the official consumer watchdog for energy, to the news that the industry regulator Ofgem has revoked licences belonging to 14 different companies has been covered by the sector trade press.

The licences were withdrawn as none of the businesses had started supplying gas or electricity more than a year after they were issued.

Most of the firms are shell companies, set up by consultants and sold to aspiring energy suppliers who sell utilities to households or businesses.

Gillian Guy said: “These licences were granted before a tougher regime for new suppliers came into force. This move by Ofgem is positive and means these firms can’t start operating without meeting the stricter rules.”

She called on Ofgem to make “effective changes” to ensure operating companies are regulated.

Consumer

How to watch what you’re spending on entertainment online

MailOnline, 20/11/2019, Ben Wilkinson

Citizens Advice research about subscriptions was cited in the Mail’s coverage of a new online streaming service.

Our research says two million customers have struggled to cancel payments for subscriptions they no longer want and people waste an average of £640 a year on these.

Debt

How far are debt collectors allowed to go to claim money back from you?

The Metro, 16/1/2019, Almara Abgarian

Citizens Advice recommendations on how to deal with bailiffs, and what the law says concerning their behaviour, were outlined in an article in The Metro .

The paper is focusing on debt in November, in a series of reports in the paper and online. In another of the articles, The Metro featured our advice on how to avoid building up debts on your energy bills, and how to pay back your supplier if you do owe them money.

Regional

Wigan residents wrongly denied hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits

Wigan Today, 15/11/2019, Andrew Nowell

Image result for wigan benefits tribunal

Citizens’ Advice Wigan Borough says a staggering 86 per cent of the cases it handled heard by benefits tribunals in 2018-19 were won by the claimant.

As the local paper reported, this resulted in more than £205,000 in backdated payments being awarded, in addition to ongoing higher payments the service managed to secure.

Chief Officer Lisa Kidston said she believes the whole system needs an overhaul: “We are getting a large number of people at the moment saying their medical report bears no resemblance to what happened during the assessment.”

She added: “There are discrepancies in reports. We’ve had ones starting off saying the claimant was unable to sit down but then says they sat normally three or four times.

“It seems often they use a template and then forget to change it to make it relate to the individual.”

In other news

‘Downward mobility’ a reality for many British youngsters today.

‘Half of women will be carers by the age of 46′.

A maternity trust could face corporate manslaughter for deaths of women and children.

UK social security payments ‘at lowest level since launch of welfare state’.