Friday 17 May 2019
Our report into how energy companies treat vulnerable customers who have fallen behind on their bills has been picked up by national, local and trade media.
A copy of the national press release can be found here.
Ofgem ‘must set ambitious vision’ for vulnerable energy customers
ITV News, 17/05/2019
Our report into how energy companies deal with vulnerable customers who fall behind on their bills was covered by ITV News.
It reported that we helped 43,232 people with energy debt last year, a 12% increase compared with 2017. Some 48% of those given help had long-term health conditions or disabilities.
Gillian Guy said: “The regulator needs to set an ambitious vision for how suppliers should support and protect vulnerable people who fall behind on their bills.
“Both Ofgem and suppliers need to take action and help people get over the barriers that stop them from seeking help and getting the right advice and support.
“The package of support that’s on offer needs to be sensitive. Aggressive collection practices and demands for unaffordable payments only serve to make people’s lives more difficult.”
This story was also covered by the Mirror under the headline: Unaffordable bills, aggressive collection: how energy firms treat those at risk.
It was also covered regionally, in the Black Country’s Express and Star.
Labour’s vow to nationalise the National Grid wipes £1billion off value of its shares
The Sun Online, 17/05/2019, Steve Hawkes
We were approached by the Sun for a comment on Labour’s plans for nationalisation of the energy industry, which its website included in a story this morning.
We reinforced the point that our focus is on how to protect the customer, whichever economic model is in place.
Gillian said: “As the official consumer watchdog for energy, our focus is on how to protect customers, ensuring they pay the fairest price possible for a high-quality essential service – regardless of the economic model used to deliver that service.
“It’s also vital that the decarbonisation of energy happens as quickly as possible.”
Broadband, TV and phone firms must warn customers their contracts are ending and offer them better deals, under new rules
Daily Mail, 16/05/2019, Grace Gausden
The article mentions that the news rules, the latest in Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers programme, means up to 20 million customers could save up to a fifth on the cost of their bills.
Citizens Advice responded by saying the watchdog’s measures did not go far enough and more change was needed to ‘solve the problem’.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We are encouraged that Ofcom will make companies send a reminder to their customers when their contract is about to end. But, given the scale of the loyalty penalty, this won’t be enough to solve the problem.
“Almost nine in 10 people think that charging loyal customers more is unfair, and we agree. We look forward to hearing about the concrete actions Ofcom will take to end this systematic scam.”
Our statement also appeared in Moneywise.
Phone and internet users to get end-of-contract alerts
BBC, 15/05/2019, Leo Kelion
Broadband, pay-TV, mobile phone and landline customers must be told when their contracts are about to end and be informed of their providers’ best alternative deals, under new Ofcom rules.
It’s hoped that these new rules will help customers avoid overpaying as an estimated 20 million people have stuck with subscriptions beyond their lock-in, often without realising.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director says: “This will put power in the hands of millions of people who’re paying more than necessary when they’re no longer tied to a contract.”
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice’s Chief Executive says: “Almost nine in 10 people think that charging loyal customers more is unfair, and we agree. We look forward to hearing about the concrete actions Ofcom will take to end this systematic scam.”
Our statement also appears in The Sun.
Festival ticket scams are leaving revellers £179 out of pocket
i News, 12/05/2019, Laurie Havelock
Our advice about how to be buyer beware when getting tickets for the summer festivals was featured in i News.
“Citizens Advice also recommends using sites that bear a red, black and white kitemark provided by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, the industry’s regulatory body,” the advice reads.
Future of Advice
Gillian Guy: Citizens Advice looks ahead in its 80th year of service
Civil Society, 15/05/2019
Gillian Guy talks about the charity’s plans for the future in an op-ed for Civil Society.
Gillian says: “We’ve set a new vision for 2022, which remains true to our roots. When we say we are here for everyone, whoever they are and whatever their problem, we mean it. Not everyone is the same and we never judge anyone who comes to us.
“We are committed to reaching as many people who need our help as possible and understand that different people require different kinds of information and support. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the very heart of this new framework.”
In other news
MPs have demanded details of the DWP’s Universal Credit PR campaign.
Free-to-use cash machines are disappearing from the poorest communities.
Thousands of drivers will be automatically hit by £100 fines and penalty points for ignoring warning signs on a new generation of smart motorways.
Inequalities in pay and opportunities in the UK are becoming so extreme they are threatening democracy, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says.
Councils will have the legal duty to provide secure homes for victims of domestic abuse in new plans announced by Theresa May.