CAB News 05 May 2019

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CAB News 05 May 2019

Friday 05 May 2019

Our research showing customers have missed out on £5.1 million in compensation for poor service from the energy network companies has appeared in several newspapers and online news sites.

National

Energy

Bad Energy: Households miss out on £5.1million in compensation for power cuts

The Sun Online, 03/05/2019, Alice Grahns

Households have missed out on millions of pounds in compensation over the past few years.The payments should have been made for power cuts and poor service said The Sun, quoting our new report into missed compensation by the network companies – the firms which run the energy infrastructure

Gillian Guy said: “This money should be in customers’ pockets. We want Ofgem to get tougher with the energy network companies so that customers automatically receive all the compensation they’re entitled to.

“Guaranteed standards should mean guaranteed compensation. At the very least there should be a system of financial penalties for those energy firms who still don’t proactively pay people what they’re due.”

The story included a comprehensive guide on how to claim compensation from the network companies, how much people might be entitled to, and what they should do if they’re unhappy about how their complaint was handled.

The Metro also ran the story, and itv news featured it on its website.

The itv news article illustrated the problems people face in claiming the compensation they’re due by using one of our case studies: an electricity customer with a one-year-old baby who rang our customer helpline following numerous power cuts over a two-week period.

Despite repeated calls to their network company, the family was never contacted or sent promised information about how to make a complaint.

Energy regulator to review costs of smart meters

Utility Week, 01/05/2019, Adam John (subscription charge may apply)

Gillian Guy was quoted in authoritative industry magazine Utility Week, putting the consumers’ perspective on Ofgem’s new consultation process. It’s part of a review of how the costs of the smart meter rollout will affect the energy price cap.

Gillian said: “We’re all paying for the smart meter rollout through our bills. It’s essential that Ofgem has up-to-date information on how much it’s costing consumers when it sets the level of the price cap.

“There have been significant changes to the smart meter programme in recent years, but the last cost benefit analysis was published in 2016.

“The lack of new information means there is little transparency over the costs of the rollout. This is now beginning to impact on other key decisions that need to be made”.

Loyalty Penalty

Mail Online,This is Money, 02/05/2019, Grace Gausden

Our findings that loyal home insurance customers are paying nearly twice as much as new customers were featured again by the Mail Online, along with our call for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to identify permanent solutions to the loyalty penalty as part of its insurance market study.

The story concentrated on new promises by some of the big insurance companies that they will keep prices down as part of changes to their policies designed to retain existing customers.

Scams

Warning over rise of fake watches, trainers and handbags on eBay, Facebook and Gumtree

The Sun, 30/04/2019, Helen Knapman

Image result for fake watches handbags

More than 13,000 problems with purchases from online marketplaces were reported to Citizens Advice last year said The Sun, in an article which also included advice on how to protect yourself when shopping online.

Gillian Guy told the paper: “While online marketplaces can be a great way to bag a bargain, far too many people are being ripped off.

“Part of the problem is that if things go wrong with a purchase, it can often be confusing what you can do.

“We want to make sure customers know what to look out for which includes checking who they are buying from. Your rights can differ depending if it’s an individual or business.”

Debt

HMRC quadruples spending on private debt collectors

Financial Times, 28/04/2019, Emma Agyemang (subscription charge may apply)

The Financial Times reported that HM Revenue and Customs spent £26.3 million on debt collection in 2018.

The paper noted that debt management issues have been coming under increased scrutiny. It said Citizens Advice research had found the portion of people reporting debt problems relating to public sector organisations doubled from 21 to 40 per cent in the five years to 2017-18. The story on its website included a link to our press release on the subject last year.

The FT also covered what it called the UK’s debt crisis in an article which featured our Principal Policy Manager Joe Lane.

Joe said: “If deductions from universal credit are not counted in statutory debt repayment plans, people’s finances will still have the features that pushed them into vulnerability. In our view, the way these debts are being collected is making people’s debt problems get worse.”

Harsh collection methods adding half a billion in fees to people’s council tax debt

BBC One O’Clock News, BBC News Channel, 26/04/2019, Colletta Smith

Our new research showed missing an average council tax payment of £167 in the first month of the financial year, can escalate to a debt of over £2,065 in just 9 weeks.

Principal Policy Manager Joe Lane told the BBC One O’Clock News: “Last year around £500 million of additional fees and charges were added on to people’s council tax debt.”

He added that this didn’t help people repay their debt, and it didn’t help local authorities either as they had to recover this extra money as well as the original debt.

The report was repeated throughout the day on the BBC News Channel.

The BBC News Channel also interviewed Head of External Affairs Katie Martin on Afternoon Live.

Katie said the current legislation meant councils’ hands were tied and “they don’t have the flexibility to talk to people about affordable re-payment plans.”

The story also appeared in The Daily Mail, The Sun and the The Mirror.

In other news

A group of 80 MPs has referred the Home Office to equalities watchdog over the Windrush scandal.

Children’s services in England are at breaking point and need a £3.1bn minimum funding boost by 2025 says an influential committee of MPs.

Ministry of Justice figures reveal more than 2,500 prison staff have been subject to disciplinary action in the last five years.

Victims of crimes, including those alleging rape, are to be asked to hand their phones over to police – or risk prosecutions not going ahead.

Provision for children and young people with mental health problems is ‘worse than in much of eastern Europe’ according to a new report.

It’s been suggested that over 50’s should pay a higher National Insurance rate in order to fund a ‘fairer’ social care system.