Friday 01 March 2019
Our new research which shows a lack of support for people with a mental health condition can lead them to pay between £1,100 to £1,550 a year more for essential services, has been featured widely in the papers and online. The problem exists across energy, telecoms, current accounts and unsecured personal credit such as credit cards and overdrafts.
‘Mental health premium’ can add £1,550 to household bills
Financial Times (subscription required), 01/03/2019, Nikou Asgari
Many firms are failing to provide customers with mental health conditions with adequate support to enable them to shop around for the best deals, reports the Financial Times.
Gillian Guy said: “If you have a mental health condition, keeping on top of everyday tasks such as paying a bill, or solving a problem with a provider, can be especially challenging. Companies should be doing all they can to support vulnerable customers, but instead too many are being left to fend for themselves.”
Vulnerable customers struggle to pay bills on time and solve problems with providers
The Independent, 01/03/2019, Josie Clarke
Our findings were also featured in The Independent. Gillian told the paper: “Poor mental health is the number one health issue experienced by the people we help, and it is fundamentally unfair that they pay more for their essential services.”
“Last year the government tasked regulators with making minimum standards for people with poor mental health a priority. Little has been done. This is a widespread problem and regulators need to step up and take action to ensure people are not being ripped off.”
The Telegraph and itv.com also covered the story.
Thousands lose cash as tiny changes force them onto new benefit
Mirror Online, 27/02/2019, Dan Bloom
Kayley Hignell’s comments highlighting the problem of hundreds of thousands of families who are being forced onto Universal Credit by “changes in circumstances” that could be major, or as small as a child’s fifth birthday, were reported by the Mirror Online.
Existing benefit claimants aren’t meant to switch until mid-2020, but the Mirror estimates up to 250,000 families have been forced onto Universal Credit already. Speaking to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee Kayley said: “All of those people don’t get transitional protection. They are going through a change in circumstances that can be hard.”
Competition watchdog bids to sharpen its teeth
The Times (subscription required), 26/02/2019, p.37, Ben Martin
Company directors could be disqualified for serious breaches of consumer laws and boards overhauled by the Competition and Markets Authority under far-reaching proposals to widen their powers. Gillian Guy said the measures could ‘unshackle regulators and give them the authority they need to better protect consumers.’
Competition watchdog wants wider powers to be consumers’ champion
The Financial Times (subscription required), 26/02/2019, p.3, Barney Thompson, George Parker
The plans could be a ‘huge step forward’, said Gillian Guy, adding: “For too long the balance of power has been tipped in favour of business, not consumers.” But she urged regulators not to “sit on their hands as they wait for new laws to be passed”.
Citizens Advice Support service rolled out across Wirral
The Wirral Globe, 26/02/2019, Lauren Jones
Citizens Advice Wirral has launched a new service aimed at spotting the signs of gambling related problems early. The Gambling Support Service will take a ‘public health approach to the issue.’ Chief officer of Citizens Advice Wirral Carol Johnson-Eyre said: ‘Problem gambling can set off a chain reaction of issues and lead to debt, eviction, mental health problems and relationship breakdown.’
In other news
Consumers who have been tricked into authorising bank payments to fraudsters are more likely to be reimbursed by their bank in future thanks to new rules agreed by the industry.
Predictive algorithms, where computers crunch statistics to advise on possible future outcomes, are becoming more commonplace. At least 53 councils are using them for everything from traffic management to benefit sanctions.
More than a million public sector workers are paid less than the living wage. A report by the Living Wage Foundation says care workers and cleaners are among those trapped in in-work poverty.
The former head of research at Citizens Advice, Justin Gutmann is leading a £100 million legal claim against two railway firms which claims they overcharged millions of passengers.