CAB News 07 December 2018

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CAB News 07 December 2018

Friday 07 December 2018

We have published this article after the Money Advice Service published new guidance on the collection of council tax.

National

Employment rights

Your rights to time off work if you have a childcare emergency this Christmas

The Mirror, 07/12/2018

Our advice on workers’ rights and childcare arrangements in an emergency has been used by the Mirror ahead of Christmas.

Tracey Moss, employment expert at Citizens Advice, said: “In an emergency, you are entitled to take time off to make sure your child is looked after. This is known as dependant leave.

“If your employer won’t give you time off, or has disciplined you for having to look after your child, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.”

Best places to work

Third Sector, 05/12/2018

Citizens Advice was included in the top 10 charities to work for by Third Sector.

Debt

MAS launches `progressive” council tax recovery guidance

Credit Connect, 05/12/2018

Our response to the Money Advice Service’s guidance on how to collect council tax arrears has been included in Credit Connect’s coverage.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Council tax arrears are the most common debt issue we help people with at Citizens Advice. Too often we see the harm that’s caused by the way this debt is collected, including further financial hardship and stress. The pursuit of government debt by authorities has also been criticised by MPs.

“Good collection practices by local authorities can work. By helping those who are struggling to meet their payments, councils can improve their collection rates. While voluntary approaches are welcome, to properly protect people from bad practices the government needs to establish an independent bailiff regulator.”

Regional

Impact of universal credit

Stoke Sentinel, 05/12/2018

Biddulph Citizens Advice said it was preparing for an increase in inquiries as Universal Credit is brought to the area.

They said: “We are anticipating that as Universal Credit is rolled out across Biddulph the demand for advice in both welfare benefit and debt will increase, as council tax reduction is not one of the benefits amalgamated into U.C and legacy benefit claimants will be being migrated to a new benefit with new compliance conditions that they have not previously been subjected to.”

Christmas Debt

How to avoid running up a debt this Christmas

This is West Country, 05/12/2018

Citizens Advice Cornwall has released a Christmas list of 12 tips to help people avoid pressure on their household budgets.

Bernie Buck, deputy chief executive at Citizens Advice Cornwall, said: “People can feel an awful lot of pressure on their finances over Christmas. All too often, this gets carried into the new year where they have to play budget catch up.

“But there are some simple and practical steps people can take to guard against a festive debt hangover, including early planning.
“If people are really struggling financially they can speak to one of our advisers face to face, online, or over the phone.”

Online marketplaces

How to avoid running up a debt this Christmas

Thame Gazette, 05/12/2018

Thame Citizens Advice said buyers need to beware as thousands of customers report being ripped off on online marketplaces.

A spokeswoman for Thame Citizens Advice said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. As part of National Consumer Week we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase and their rights if something goes wrong.

“To reduce the risk of being left out-of-pocket it’s a good idea to check the product information on these sites carefully before they make a purchase.”

In other news

O2’s data network was restored this morning after a day-long outage.

The airline regulator has begun enforcement action against Ryanair for refusing to compensate passengers for strike disruption.

A new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says 4 million British workers live in poverty.

The boss of the UK’s largest funeral provider, the Co-Op Group, has admitted the industry has taken advantage of people’s grief in the past.


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Online retailers need to offer accessibility options as deliveries fail 3.4 million disabled consumers

Friday 30 November 2018

During National Consumer Week and the busiest shopping season of the year, Citizens Advice is calling on retailers to work with parcel operators to make it easier for disabled people to make their delivery needs known.

The charity found almost 1 in 3 disabled people missed a delivery because they weren’t given enough time to get to the door. It found 1 in 4 postal service users who are disabled say they feel rushed, anxious or irritated when accepting deliveries at home.

Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for postal services and is calling on  retailers and parcel operators to work together to let disabled consumers explain any additional delivery needs when shopping. This would allow people to outline their accessibility needs such as needing more time to get to the door or to specify places to leave missed deliveries that are accessible.

Over 13 million people in the UK have a disability and together they influence more than £80 billion of spending each year. Citizens Advice found 1 in 10 disabled people in the past year have avoided using home delivery or have items sent to friends or family members because they find it too difficult.

Citizens Advice has developed a delivery charter for disabled consumers that sets out guidelines for retailers and operators to improve online shopping and delivery experiences.

This includes:

  • Retailers and operators working together to ensure disabled consumers can specify any additional delivery needs.

  • Making sure all pick up and drop off points meet the needs of disabled consumers. This means ensuring there is level access at each location, accessibility features are renewed annually, and providing clear information online about the accessibility features available at each pick up and drop off point.

Citizens Advice recently worked with Post Office Limited to ensure accessibility information for every post office in the UK will be listed on its website. Until this work, Post Office Limited did not have any disabled access information on its branch finder.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“During the busiest season for online shopping, we’re calling on retailers to make sure deliveries work for disabled consumers.

“We found some people are missing deliveries, and even avoiding online shopping altogether, because they feel rushed or anxious when accepting deliveries at home.

“This should be an easy fix for retailers who have a duty to take into account people’s accessibility needs.

“As the statutory consumer advocate for post, we’re calling on companies to make sure they’re not leaving disabled consumers behind.”


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CAB News 23 November 2018

Friday 23 November 2018

Today Citizens Advice features in national and regional news about rent-to-own products, smart meters and debt.

It’s also the media launch of National Consumer Week today as we warn consumers about the problems with online marketplaces. There is a template press release to share with local media – available in English and in Welsh.

National

Government will miss smart meter deadline, watchdog warns

The Guardian, CityAM, FT, The Times, 23/11/2018

The National Audit Office has said the government will miss its own deadline for installing smart meters. Our response has been carried.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “If the costs of the rollout continue to rise, as the NAO suggests, it is households who will end up footing the bill. These costs may be offset if people benefit from savings in the long-term, but with no cost-benefit analysis conducted since 2016, it’s not clear that this will happen.”

National Consumer Week

Black Friday danger warning – why you need to beware online marketplaces today

The Mirror, BBC Radio London, 23/11/2018

Our research into the pitfalls of online marketplaces ahead of National Consumer Week was covered in the Mirror and on broadcast.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. This National Consumer Week, we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase – and their rights if something goes wrong.

“With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing items through online marketplaces.

Joe Lane was on BBC Radio London at 7:20am this morning discussing this. Katie Martin and Matthew Upton have also been interviewed for BBC News and Sky News.

Rent to own products

Cap on rent-to-own products positive step 

BBC News, FT, The Times, The Guardian, Yahoo News, Daily Express, 23/11/2018

Yesterday the FCA announced a cap on rent-to-own products and we hailed it as a victory. Joe Lane featured on BBC News Channel and ITV. Matthew Upton was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, said: “A cap gets to the heart of the problem by stopping costs from spiralling out of control and pushing people into further debt. Our evidence has repeatedly shown that well-designed caps can reduce the harm high-cost credit can cause, as they have done in the payday loan market.”

Debt

BrightHouse and PerfectHomes Black Friday deals cost THREE times more than high street prices

Sun Online, 21/11/2018, Tara Evans

Gillian Guy was quoted in a Sun Online story about the cost of household appliances being sold by rent-to-own companies on Black Friday.

The article also used our research that found a cap on rent-to-own agreements that meant nobody paid more than twice what they borrowed would save customers £62 million.

Gillian said: “People who buy household items using rent-to-own pay huge amounts of interest on products that already cost well over the regular retail price.

“Alongside extras, such as warranties and delivery charges, these agreements can lead to runaway costs that can cause people real financial harm.

“This is why the FCA must act soon and confirm its intention to cap rent-to-own agreements. No one should have to pay back more than double what they borrow.”

Regional

Concern over fuel poverty in Cumbria

BBC Radio Cumbria, 21/11/2018 (1hr 37 mins in)

Andy Auld, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, appeared on BBC radio to talk about the high levels of fuel poverty in the area.

He said: “Eden is the second worst in England and Wales for fuel poverty – nearly 17% of people in Eden are in fuel poverty.

“What we find it’s people on the lowest incomes who are more likely to have problems with meeting their fuel costs.”

He added: “In Cumbria it is much higher than average and it is of concern.”

Citizens Advice Rochdale campaigns for regulator to crack down on badly behaving bailiffs

Rochdale Online, 18/11/2018

Our campaign for an independent regulator to police the bailiff industry was covered in the north west.

Research last week showed that one in every three people visited by a bailiff witnessed the enforcement officer breaking the rules.

Citizens Advice in Rochdale said it dealt with 158 people in the last two years with bailiff issues, including one person who had a £44 debt, to which a £75 compliance charge was added and £235 for “enforcement action”.

Jonathan Yates, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Rochdale, said: “The government must step in and regulate the industry to prevent people suffering at the hands of bailiffs who flout the rules.

“It beggars’ belief an industry that can cause so much damage is not properly policed by a regulator.”

This story was also covered in the Oldham Evening Chronicle and radio station Revolution 96.2.

In other news

Campaigners say new laws going through parliament will not go far enough to stamp out all hidden fees and charges for renters.

The homeless population in Britain has risen to 320,000.

A bank customer lost thousands in a scam, despite the fraudster getting one of her security questions wrong.

 


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