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.


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.”


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.”


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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CAB News 1 February 2019

Man at computer

Friday 1 February 2019

Our call for an independent consumer champion for the mobile and broadband industries was highlighted by the BBC.



12 million mobile customers wasting £63 a year on a service they won’t use

Mirror Online, 31/01/2019, Emma Munbodh

Citizens Advice is calling for an independent consumer champion for the mobile and broadband industries to stand up to practices that exploit customers.

Gillian Guy said: “Mobile companies should be doing more to help their customers save on data they don’t use…This is another example of mobile companies overcharging their customers. It’s time for a consumer champion to stand up for people and push for change on issues like this.”

This story was also broadcast on TalkRadio, 5Live, and BBC Radio Wales.


Council Tax debt

Victoria Derbyshire, 30/01/2019, (34 mins)

Joe Lane, Principal Policy Manager, revealed that more than 90,000 people had visited Citizens Advice about Council Tax arrears in the last year, explaining that it’s the most common debt problem people come to Citizens Advice for.

He continued that councils are turning to bailiffs to recoup arrears, which adds additional fees to people’s debt, he explained that this makes “more difficult to get back on track.”


Fees Ban ‘should be just the start of more power for tenants’

Letting Agent Today, 28/01/2019, Graham Norwood

Citizens Advice responds to the Tenant Fees Bill, which last week passed its final stage in Parliament before Royal Assent.

In a statement Gillian Guy called it a “landmark moment.” She continued: “We look forward to working with the government to do even more to strengthen the hand of the growing number of renters in a market where they have little bargaining power.”



Grandad’s benefits struggle parallels ‘I, Daniel Blake’ film

Lancashire Times, 23/01/2019, Amy Farnworth

Grandfather, Jeff Hayward, died in June having spent 18 months fighting a decision that he was fit to work. Citizens Advice Ribble Valley helped his family overturn the decision.

Manager of Ribble Valley CAB, Katy Marshall, said: “Based on the same medical evidence provided to [DWP] by his GP two years and three months earlier, they found he was entitled to the highest rate of benefit…For him to go from zero points to 15, which is the highest number of points on the benefit scale seems ridiculous.”

Universal Credit: Harrogate residents “carrying cost” of new benefits

Yorkshire Post, 25/01/2019, Alexander Beard

Two and a half years after the full roll-out Universal Credit in the area Edward Pickering, CEO of the Citizens Advice, Craven and Harrogate District, said that residents continue to face problems.

He said that “those who are already on Universal Credit are still carrying the debt caused by the earlier problems, they haven’t been compensated for the, then, huge cost of ringing the helpline to sort DWP mistakes or the extra week with no money.”

In other news

UK house prices grow fastest in north of England and Midlands.

The family accused of antisocial behaviour while on their holiday to New Zealand have returned home. They claim they will seek advice from “Citizens Advice people and the human rights people.”

Austerity cuts have fallen hardest on deprived communities in the north of England.


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