CAB News 16 October 2020

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CAB News 16 October 2020

Image result for families on low budgets uk

Friday 16 October 2020

Our report on people coping with negative budgets ‘Life on less than zero’ has been published. The full press release is here.

National

Universal Credit

Surge in people unable to cover essential bills if universal credit uplift is removed, charity warns

Independent, 13/10/2020, May Bulman

Thousands more people will be unable to cover essential household bills if the universal credit uplift introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic is removed, Citizens Advice has warned.

Analysis of the 6,264 people Citizens Advice helps with debt who receive universal credit or working tax credit showed three in four (75 per cent) would not be able to cover their essential household bills if the uplift was removed – an increase of 32 points on the current 43 per cent.

The charity is calling on ministers to make the uplift to universal credit and working tax credits permanent in order to “keep families afloat” in the months ahead. They should also introduce emergency loans for renters and help local authorities cover lost council tax revenue when people cannot afford to pay on time.

Consumer

It is time to reboot the competition regime for the modern, digital age

The Times (£), 12/10/2020, David Wighton

The former business editor of The Times, and columnist for Financial News, David Wighton, wrote a substantial comment piece in Monday’s Times about our campaign to end the loyalty penalty.

Last month the financial regulator announced plans to ban car and household insurers from charging existing customers more than new ones. The move by the Financial Conduct Authority was a victory for the campaign to stamp out the loyalty penalty led by Citizens Advice,

It is two years since Citizens Advice issued a “super-complaint” requiring the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the loyalty penalty. In five markets the CMA found that existing customers were being “ripped off” to the tune of £4 billion a year.

Welcoming the FCA’s “bold” move, Dame Gillian Guy, said there was much still to do, “given that most of those who were paying the loyalty penalty back then are still paying it now”.

And our Principal Policy Manager Morgan Wild appeared yesterday on Radio 4’s consumer programme You and Yours (about 16mins into clip) to talk about the loyalty penalty.

Morgan said some people, often the most vulnerable, find it very difficult to engage in the insurance market and the move by the FCA should help them.

But, he added, everyone would benefit: “[The FCA] predict that competition will increase as a consequence of their package of measures, secondly they think customers overall are going to pay £370 million pounds less – average prices will come down as well.”

Employment

Number of people seeking redundancy advice triples as furlough scheme winds down

Sky News, 10/10/2020, Katerina Vittozzi

Image result for citizens advice telephone advice

We’re helping one person every two minutes who is worried about redundancy.

Our Principal Policy Manager Minesh Patel, told Sky News: “People are really worried about what is going to happen next for them, particularly with the end of the furlough scheme this month. There is a real worry about there being another wave of redundancy.”

Our data shows the number of people coming to us for redundancy advice is more than triple that of the same time last year.

Last month, 300,000 people visited the Citizens Advice website pages featuring advice about how to cope with job loss.

The story was also featured on Talk Radio, and in The Daily Express.

Andy Gillet, a telephone advice manager at Citizens Advice Blackpool, told the Express: “Work worries are really ramping up. With the end of the furlough scheme in just a few short weeks, a lot of people feel like they’re in the waiting room for a redundancy.

“There’s a sense of underlying anxiety, but at the same time people are trying to be practical, for example asking how they’d go about claiming benefits or what they can do about their bills if they suddenly lose their income.

“The hardest thing is people saying that if they lose their job there won’t easily be another to go into – for many, that’s the reality of the labour market.”

In The Guardian our welfare benefit expert Carlos Hagi said: “Facing redundancy can be an extremely difficult time.

“You may be feeling worried about the future and uncertain of how to manage your personal finances in the weeks and months ahead.”

In other news

Covid: Casey’s poverty warning difficult to ignore.

Unemployment hits three-year high and most redundancies since 2009.

Shoppers urged to shun Amazon Prime Day to support small businesses.


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CAB News 09 October 2020

Friday 09 October 2020

There has been coverage of Citizens Advice’s calls for the £20 Universal Credit uplift to be made permanent.

National

Universal Credit

UK furlough scheme: What can I do if my job is at risk?

Big Issue, 08/10/20

The Big Issue has set out details on the new Job Support Scheme and what your rights are if your job is at risk. It includes advice from Citizens Advice and a quote from Dame Gillian Guy.

She said: “Making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent would “provide some much-needed security as we weather this storm.

“The furlough scheme has been an extraordinary intervention, but as it draws to a close we could face a bleak winter of redundancies,” she said.

“The Chancellor has acknowledged that the new Job Support Scheme won’t protect every job. While people look for work it’s critical our benefits system provides a strong enough safety net.”

Debt

‘Threatening’ debt letters that make people suicidal banned after Martin Lewis campaign

The Sun & BBC Three Counties, 07/10/20 (clip starts 1:14:51)

Debt letters that are sent to people who’ve fallen behind on overdraft, credit card, store card, payday and personal loan payments, are to be rewritten following a campaign.

The Sun reported on the changes and included debt advice from Citizens Advice.

Kash Karimzandi, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Leighton-Linslade, spoke to BBC Three Counties about the impact the change would have.

How can you help a friend facing Covid money problems?

The Mail on Sunday & This is Money, 05/10/20

The Mail on Sunday has looked at how to spot signs that someone is having debt problems, and the best ways you can help them.

Lorraine Charlton, Senior Debt Expert at Citizens Advice, says showing someone there is help available can be key.

She said: “It takes a lot of courage for someone to admit they are not coping. Signposting resources that are available to help with debt can get someone to engage with a problem.”

Redundancy

Can you be made redundant if you’re on maternity leave?

Metro, 06/10/20

 The Metro has published two pieces explaining your rights on redundancy.

It has included Citizens Advice’s tips on what to do if you’re at risk of redundancy and you’re pregnant, and what to check when you get your final pay.

Students

Coronavirus chaos on campus: Is it possible to get a refund on your accommodation and university course?

This is Money & Ipswich Star 06/10/20

This is Money, with the help of Citizens Advice and other experts, has put together a Q&A to help students with their accommodation and course dilemmas during the pandemic.

Amy Hughes, Senior Housing Expert at Citizens Advice, said: “Unfortunately, there’s not much good news for students who decide to change households for the medium to long-term, by returning to their family home for example.

“It’s likely that in many cases they will be tied into their accommodation agreements and not entitled to any refund.

“It’s always worth getting in touch with your landlord and trying to negotiate. But realistically, if there is no obligation for them to release you from the contract, they may well be unwilling to do so.

“Where the landlord is the university, they may be more sympathetic to a short-term reduction in rent, or ending a contract early, if there is no longer any reason for you to remain in halls.

“However, it is early in the academic year, and it may be difficult to find alternative halls of residence accommodation if a student gives up their place, but later wishes to return.”

Loyalty penalty

UK price comparison sites face challenge in switching shake-up

BBC & Financial Times (£), 03/10/2020

The Financial Conduct Authority has proposed new rules on the way insurers price their products. The main change would be a ban on price walking — the practice of increasing premiums for existing customers over time so loyal clients end up paying much more than new ones.

Citizens Advice, which launched the “super complaint” that prompted the FCA’s action, said easier ways to cancel automatic policy renewals would also force insurers to fight for customers — via comparison sites.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “At a time when many people are struggling to pay their bills because of coronavirus, it’s simply not right that companies can still get away with exploiting their loyal customers.”

In other news

Up to £258m self-employment grants ‘error or fraud’.

Homeless lives at risk from Covid winter, charities warn.

Victory in battle against ‘thuggish’ debt letters.

Covid: Nearly 500,000 redundancies planned since crisis began.