CAB News 05 July 2019

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CAB News 05 July 2019

Friday 05 July 2019

Our research on debt and the energy supply market featured in the national media today.

National

Debt

Councils look to take unpaid tax from debtors’ wages

FT.com (subscription required), 04/07/2019, Naomi Rovnick

Our research showing the average person who approaches Citizen Advice over problems with council tax payments has just £14 of monthly disposable income, has been quoted by the Financial Times.

The government is considering allowing local authorities to deduct unpaid council tax debts directly from people’s wages, in a move that could shore up councils’ finances and reduce their reliance on bailiffs, says the FT.

Energy

Britain’s energy regulator rolls out tougher rules for new suppliers

Reuters, 04/07/2019, Susanna Twidale

Picking up the Pieces – our recent report that estimated the unpaid costs relating to the collapse of 10 energy firms since January 2018 at £172 million pounds – has been used by Reuters.

The news agency used the figures in its story about new regulations governing companies preparing to enter the energy market.

The heat is on: Swap your energy supplier this summer before the best deals disappear

Mail Online, 30/06/2019, Laura Shannon

Image result for the heat is on energy

Our energy star rating is quoted in the Financial Mail on Sunday, and on its partner website This is Money, as part of a report on how to get the best fuel deal.

“Customers need to take care about which supplier they stick with or switch to,” said the article.

“The latest rankings from charity Citizens Advice show that a quarter of energy companies fail to achieve half marks for customer service.

Its star ratings are based on complaints, call waiting times and ease of switching.”

Energy consumers switched to costly deals after firms go bust

The Times, 01/07/2019, p.2, Emily Gosden (subscription charge may apply)

Our report, Picking up the Pieces, into the costs to consumers from the collapse of 10 energy suppliers since January 2018, was quoted by The Times.

Energy correspondent Emily Gosden was reporting on how customers of failed energy suppliers often find themselves transferred to an expensive default tariff when they are switched to a replacement energy supply company.

The article then moved on to discuss the wider issue of dealing with energy suppliers who go bust:

“Citizens Advice said last month that customers faced a potential bill of £172 million for covering credit balances and other unpaid industry debts for defunct suppliers.”

National Grid completes sale of gas network to CIC-backed group

FT.com, 30/06/2019, Donato Paolo Mancini (subscription charge may apply)

The Financial Times drew on our earlier research into energy networks, in a story about the sale of the gas company Cadent to a Chinese backed consortium.

“Consumer group Citizens Advice has complained of what it calls “eye-watering” and “unjustified” profits, with network distribution costs making up a large part of the average household energy bill,” said the FT.

Universal Credit

Thousands of dying people missing out on benefits because illnesses not deemed critical enough

The Sun, 03/07/2019, Katie Binns

Citizens Advice gave the example of a terminally-ill single mother who was forced to stop working due to her illness to illustrate the problem of the “six-month rule.”

The mum fell into nearly £3,000 of rent arrears while waiting for a Universal Credit payment and had to rely on the help of friends and family.

The Sun says tens of thousands of terminally ill people and their families are ending up in debt because of the “outdated” rule that you must only have six months or less to live to get fast access to benefits.

A “damning” new report by MPs is calling on the government to ditch the stipulation, which they say was invented by politicians, and has no clinical evidence to support its use.

The Huffington Post also used our case study in its coverage of the story.

Consumer Advice

Can you get a refund if a gig has bad sound?

The Guardian, 29/06/2019, p.34, Miles Brignall and Rupert Jones

Why do so many stadium and arena gigs seem to be plagued by terrible sound? And what are your rights when it comes to getting a refund, asked The Guardian.

The paper quoted the advice on our website which makes it clear: “you should complain if there’s a problem with the quality of the sound”. It says you should first contact the ticket seller or venue for a refund.

In other news

A quarter of UK betting shops could close, with 12,000 jobs at risk.

One in five councils face drastic spending cuts within months.

Mobile users can now switch providers with one simple text.

Crown estate faces tenants’ anger over rent hikes, evictions and repair delays.