Friday 22 May 2020
Citizens Advice is calling on the government to ‘stand by its promise’ that no renter should lose their home because of coronavirus. Our press release issued yesterday is here.
This morning we issued this statement in response to the Financial Conduct Authority’s announcement of an extension to the mortgage payment holiday scheme. We welcome the proposals but stress that tenants should not be left behind.
How to get help paying your council tax as over two million are behind on bills
The Sun, 21/05/2020, Levi Winchester
More than two million homes are feared to have fallen behind on their council tax bills as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak.This is the staggering warning from three of the UK’s largest debt charities, reports The Sun.
Bailiff visits have currently been banned due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. But Citizens Advice, Money Advice Trust and StepChange fear council tax enforcement measures will restart soon.
Dame Gillian Guy said: “Coronavirus has caused huge financial uncertainty for local councils. But this pressure must not trigger a wave of aggressive debt collection against people who are themselves struggling to pay their bills.
“Aggressive collection drives vulnerable people further into debt and is inefficient.”
Coronavirus forces two million people to fall behind on council tax bills
The Mirror, 21/05/2020, Mikey Smith
Citizens Advice and other charities are warning millions of people face debt collectors and hardship if urgent action isn’t taken to prevent households falling off a “cliff edge.”
Dame Gillian Guy said: “Coronavirus has caused huge financial uncertainty for local councils. But this pressure must not trigger a wave of aggressive debt collection against people who are themselves struggling to pay their bills. Aggressive collection drives vulnerable people further into debt and is inefficient.”
Private Eye reports on the “cliff edge” faced by renters and says the “stress building up in the housing system will come to a head at the end of June.”
The magazine quotes our figure of 2.6 million tenants who are behind, or expect to be behind, on their rent.
These issues were highlighted from a Welsh perspective by Head of Policy and Campaigns Wales, Rhiannon Evans on ITV’s evening news programme in the principality.
She said 300,000 people in Wales had fallen behind on at least one household bill and a third of tenants had missed a rent payment or expected to.
Rhiannon said: “We’re really concerned that people are starting to build up problem debt and it’ll really come to a head in a few months time when the various schemes and protections that are currently in place begin to be withdrawn.”
She said Citizens Advice Cymru was asking the Welsh government to fund local authorities to give council tax breaks and to extend protections for renters so families in the private rented sector don’t face a “cliff edge” in a couple of months time.
Citizens Advice on hand to provide benefits help
BBC Radio1, Newsbeat, 19/05/2020
Policy Manager Minesh Patel spoke to Newsbeat about Universal Credit. Minesh said “when you apply for Universal Credit most people will apply online. You’ll have to provide some details – like date of birth, earnings and your household situation.”
Minesh explained that “some people will be waiting for longer than others,” but if you urgently need the money you can apply for an advanced payment which is a loan that will later be recouped from your eventual Universal Credit payments.
Father-of-two ineligible for coronavirus job retention scheme ‘living off credit cards’
ITV News, 19/05/2020
James Horton, father-of-two, who found himself ineligible for government support schemes during the coronavirus pandemic has been left “living off credit cards”. James’ hardship comes as latest figures revealed that in April there were 103,869 unemployment claimants in Wales, compared with 58,576 in March.
Rhiannon Evans, Head of Policy and Campaigns for Citizens Advice Cymru, said: “These figures show just how financially devastating the pandemic has been for households in Wales. Our advisers have helped over 18,000 people in Wales since lockdown began – with Universal Credit the most common issue.
“Even with the various support schemes put in place by the Welsh and UK Governments, thousands of families are still struggling to make ends meet.”
Unemployment benefit claims soared by 856,500 in April as coronavirus crisis hit UK jobs, ONS figures show
iNews, 19/05/2020, Ruchira Sharma
Unemployment figures have soared during the coronavirus pandemic, with 856,500 more people making benefit claims last month new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows.
Matt, 29, from Devon, lost his job in February: “My boss rang me and said there’s no job for you at the moment, there’s no hours.” Matt sought help from his local Citizens Advice who have supported him in seeking redundancy pay from his employer.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said “Each job loss can mean a household struggling to make rent, cover their bills or pay for the food.
“With millions struggling to keep their heads above water, the Government must ensure people can access adequate support through the benefits system and don’t face eviction or harsh debt collection as a result of this pandemic.”
In other news