CAB News 13 September 2019

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CAB News 13 September 2019

Friday 13 September 2019

Citizens Advice Scams Action has been featured in an ITV documentary about fraud.

National

Consumer

Citizens Advice Scams Action ready to help

Fraud: The Public Threat, Tonight, ITV1, 12/09/2019, 7.30pm (about 20′ into clip). Helen Skelton

Our new service Citizens Advice Scams Action was featured on ITV’s Tonight programme yesterday.

The programme showed our website in detail and interviewed Martin Lewis, whose payout from Facebook, after his image was used in a series of online scams, has funded the service.

Martin said it would provide “one on one help” for people worried they had been victims of a scam. He also outlined what to look out for to avoid being scammed.

Martin said “urgency and secrecy” were the two biggest red flags a scammer might be at work.

Advice

Struggling to make ends meet? Go to your local Citizens Advice

The Asian Network (registration required), 12/09/2019, 10pm (about 1’20” into clip), Mobeen Azhar

People seeking advice on Universal Credit and other financial problems were urged to seek our help by the presenters of a programme on the BBC’s Asian Network entitled ‘Struggling to Make Ends Meet.’

Raji Osahn said of one man, who’d had numerous issues trying to claim Universal Credit: “He absolutely needs to go to a local Citizens Advice.”

Debt

Surge in councils using bailiffs to chase debts, including parking fines

The Independent, 11/09/2019, Vicky Shaw

Councils across England and Wales sent 2.6 million debts to bailiffs in 2018-19, a 7 per cent rise on the year before.

Despite this, the Money Advice Trust, who carried out the research, said it has found evidence that more councils are adopting best practice on affordability and vulnerability. It found 64 councils have now signed up to the Citizens Advice and Local Government Association’s council tax protocol, which is an increase from two years before.

Cut bailiff use for non-payment of council tax, say charities

The Guardian, 11/09/2019, Ben Quinn

Our council tax ‘good practice protocol’ is helping to improve the way local authorities collect arrears.

There were still 1.4 million referrals to bailiffs for the collection of council tax last year, according to new figures from the Money Advice Trust. But the report shows 51% of local authorities had reduced their bailiff use during the last two years.

The Local Government Association said the findings showed that there had been a positive impact from the work it had been doing with Citizens Advice on a council tax arrears good practice protocol.

Sixty-four councils have signed up to the Citizens Advice/LGA council tax protocol – up from 50 two years ago. A further 23 councils are considering signing up the protocol which, for example, obliges local authorities to give careful consideration before passing debts to enforcement agencies where potentially vulnerable household are involved.

Universal Credit

DWP extends the claims period by a month

i News, 09/09/2019, Serina Sandhu

Image result for dwp

The government’s announcement that parents on Universal Credit will now have an extra month to claim back childcare costs was covered by i News.

Gillian Guy told the paper “It’s good to see Government help parents on Universal Credit… This kind of flexibility needs to be applied to more of the new benefits system.

“Our evidence shows some people are having difficulty meeting the upfront costs of childcare, which can run to hundreds of pounds on already tight budgets.

“To really make sure parents can get the support they need on Universal Credit, the Government should look at paying childcare costs in advance or direct to providers.”

Energy

Eversmart Energy collapse hits 29,000 customers

The Times, 07/09/2019, p.49, Emily Gosden

Image result for eversmart

A small energy supplier that courted controversy by encouraging households to pay for a year’s gas and electricity usage up front ceased trading on Friday. Our response, in our capacity as the official consumer watchdog for energy, was widely featured in the national press.

Gillian Guy told The Times: “Eversmart is the 13th domestic energy company to collapse in the past two years. Our research shows this unlucky baker’s dozen of failed companies has left behind at least £172 million in unpaid costs. These will be picked up by other consumers through higher bills.”

She called for Ofgem to “act to reduce the cost of supplier failures and protect customers”.

The story was also covered by The Independent which noted: “Last year, Citizens Advice sounded the alarm about the company after it began offering a tariff where advanced payments of about £1,000 were paid by households.”

In other news

Domestic violence murders surge to five-year high.

In-game spending should be regulated by gambling laws, MPs say.

Ministers have been forced to publish documents predicting public disorder, rising prices and disruptions to food and medicines in Operation Yellowhammer papers.

TUC and Amnesty come out in support of student climate strikes.


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CAB News 16 August 2019

Friday 16 August 2019

The HuffPost has published a comment piece written by Gillian Guy that calls on the new Prime Minister to make changes that would improve the lives of the people we help.

National

Advocy

A Message To Boris Johnson: Lift The Gloom For People Struggling On Benefits

HuffPost, 09/08/2019

An opinion piece by Gillian Guy written to the new Prime Minister about the changes we would like to see the new government make to help the people we see was published in HuffPost.

In the piece, Gillian called on the PM to address issues raised by people on Universal Credit, those in debt, and those affecting consumers.

“In our 80 years of existence we’ve seen how political changes can bring opportunity to tackle intractable problems in new ways,” Gillian wrote.

“We’ve worked with the governments of 16 prime ministers to help solve these problems and achieve tangible change for people.

“We want to turn the attention of the 17th to matters beyond Brexit, to help millions of people across the country sleep better at night.”

Consumer

How cancelling your direct debit can leave you with a big bill

Daily Express, 15/08/2019, Lloyd Johnson

Our advice on finding the best deal for your car insurance was quoted at length in the Daily Express.

The paper warned that some motorists have been caught out when cancelling their direct debit.

Our website says: “Cancelling a direct debit does not cancel your insurance policy.

“If you do this you will still owe your insurer the premiums. You must contact your insurer to cancel the policy.”

Energy

Are small energy suppliers safe to use?

The Mirror, 14/08/2019, Emma Munbodh

Citizens Advice is “a good place to start” when considering switching energy supplier said The Mirror in an article looking at smaller gas and electricity firms.

The paper also used research from our Picking up the Pieces report which says households could face a £172 million bill after the collapse of a dozen domestic suppliers.

Our energy star rating which evaluates energy companies on a range of measures including customer service can be found here.

Advice

One in six families ‘cut back on essentials’ to pay for school uniforms – how to claim up to £150 from your council

The Sun, 11/08/2019, Hollie Borland

Our advice on how to get help with the cost of school uniform has been featured on The Sun’s website in an article which says that the number of parents struggling with the cost is on the rise.

There is help available from some local authorities, and you can find out if your council offers a grant by checking its website, says the report.

It adds that Citizens Advice also recommends asking the school for help, as they may be aware of local charities that can offer assistance.

Debt

Mental health issues and debt: kindness is not good enough

The Observer, 11/08/2019, p.56, Emily Reynolds

Our research which found that mentally ill people pay on average £1,110 to £1,550 more for services per year was quoted in The Observer.

The article said understanding of how depression and similar difficulties can contribute to money problems has increased, but people still aren’t always able to access the help they need.

Andrew Dickens, who had depression, told the paper: “It all became a nasty circle: my debt fuelled my illness, my illness made me build up more debt, and so on. The problem was, my mental health issues prevented me from confronting it.”

Travel

Gatwick Airport strikes called off this weekend amid union update on other August walkouts

Express Online, 09/08/2019

Our advice on what rights you have if your flights are cancelled due to strike action were covered by the Express Online.

“If your flight has been cancelled due to airport staff striking, it’s unlikely you’ll receive compensation as it would be considered ‘extraordinary circumstances’. These are outside of the airline’s control,” the advice read.

“You should contact your airline as you should be offered the choice between a refund and a replacement flight.”

In other news

Major retailers call on chancellor to save high street.

National Grid ‘had three blackout near-misses in three months’.

There has been a huge rise in complaints about gambling companies.

Shackles and restraints have been used on hundreds of people deported from the UK.