Friday 12 July 2019
Our report, Keeping Warm: The Future of Heat, was published this morning, looking at the decarbonisation of heating homes and businesses.
Coverage has been picked up by a number of national broadcast and online media.
Government must protect consumers during decarbonisation – Citizens Advice
Mail Online, 12/07/2019
Our warning that a lack of credible plan to decarbonise the way homes and business are heated risks failing consumers was picked up by the Mail Online.
We are calling on the Government to establish an independent commission to determine the fairest way to pay for the energy transition, including the shift to low-carbon heat.
Gillian Guy said: “The way we heat our homes needs to undergo a major transformation. How we manage that process, and fairly distribute the costs, needs the urgent attention of government.
“An independent commission is the only way to make sure the pathway to net zero is assessed in a rigorous, transparent and timely way.
“Consumers must be at the heart of the process, with the right protections built in for them now.”
The story was also picked up in the Daily Mirror.
It revealed there are currently 14,000 heat networks in the UK, which serve 500,000 customers.
The story included our concern that handling complaints such as high or incorrect back bills from the 2% of households who already use the unregulated networks.
Gillian said: “We need to get these decisions right now to prevent the bad practice of today becoming the standard practice of tomorrow.”
The loyalty penalty
FT Adviser, 10/07/2019, Jeff Prestridge
An opinion piece in the FT Adviser about the loyalty penalty praised Citizens Advice and featured comments from our Chief Executive Gillian Guy.
It mentioned little had been done about the loyalty penalty for years “before the good people at Citizens Advice decided to intervene”, firing off a super-complaint to the CMA with research that showed consumers were overpaying by £4.1 billion.
The author then referred to Gillian’s opinion article in the Mail on Sunday in which she expressed her disappointment in the lack of progress in tackling the issue.
“Time is ticking. The FCA and Ofcom need to step up and show us how they are going to stop companies exploiting their loyal customers and put an end to this systematic scam.”
FCA ‘not brave enough’ to tackle mortgage prisoners
FT Adviser, 10/07/2019, Imogen Tew
Our Principal Policy Manager Morgan Wild was quoted in an FT Adviser story about mortgage prisoners.
Speaking at the Westminster Business Forum on Wednesday, Morgan said the Financial Conduct Authority had not done enough to tackle the issue, but the threat of legal action was a constraint.
Morgan said: “There is a massive fear of regulators being taken to court, and that has a chilling effect on pro-consumer enforcement and action that could take to address some problems.”
Citizens Advice: FCA should make providers responsible for expensive SVRs
Mortgage Introducer, 10/07/2019, Ryan Bembridge
Morgan’s appearance at the Westminster reception was also covered by mortgage trade press, which focused on our call to make service providers responsible for ensuring customers are not switched to high-cost tariffs.
“Too often all the onus is put on the consumer,” Morgan said.
“These are firms who have a responsibility to treat customers fairly and we have been so far disappointed by the lack of regulatory action to point that point across, to really examine what they are doing to improve outcomes for loyal customers.”
How to avoid marketplace rip-offs
Women’s Own, 15/07/2019, p38, Rebecca Gamble
Our advice on how to protect yourself when shopping online was featured in Women’s Own magazine.
The article also featured our statistics that revealed 12,000 problems were brought to us in 2017, an increase of 35 per cent in four years.
Our advice says: “Check the product details, including photos, the description, cost of the item, delivery charges, contact details for the seller, and any cancellation rights.
“Also, is it being sold by a trader or private seller. You’ll have fewer rights buying from the latter.”
Our advice on tax relief on pensions was included in an article in the Express Online.
“You can get tax relief on pension payments you make into a company (occupational) pension, personal pension or stakeholder pension, as long as HMRC has approved the pension scheme,” our advice states.
Government scheme to recover unpaid council tax launches
Credit Connect, 08/07/2019
A story on a new pilot scheme by local councils to deduct people’s council tax debt from their income has included a comment from our Chief Executive, Gillian Guy.
“Our research shows harsh collection methods added half a billion pounds in fees to people’s council tax debts in 2016/17 alone,” Gillian said.
“It’s encouraging to see local authorities trying to reduce bailiff use but any collections must be affordable and should not leave people on low incomes with too little to live on.
“The government needs to fundamentally reform the regulations governing how local authorities collect debts and give them more flexibility.
“People should not be charged a full year’s bill after a single monthly payment is missed or threatened with imprisonment.”
In other news
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has said the benefits system for terminally ill people will be reviewed.
Danger fridges “should be removed from stores”.
The NHS has teamed up with Amazon to provide health advice via the company’s Alexa voice assistant.
Waiting lists for routine surgery have risen by up to 50% in England because senior doctors say they cannot afford to work extra shifts.