Citizens Advice social policy impact report
Social policy impact report 2011/12 ( 1.7mb)
Since its inception in 1939, the Citizens Advice service has not only helped people resolve their problems, but also has campaigned to ensure these problems are tackled at the root cause. Despite our limited resources, we estimate that we helped up to 5.6 million people through our policy work in 2011/12.
During this year, a significant proportion of our staff resources have been focused on lobbying on pieces of legislation and communicating the impact of change on our clients and services.
The Welfare Reform Bill and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill particularly involved extensive analysis, briefing parliamentarians and local campaigning.
Both these Bills resulted in extensive defeats for the Government in the Lords, highlighting the strength of feeling about aspects of the proposals
Whilst we gained some concessions from Government on both pieces of legislation, we were unable to change the direction of travel to cuts on public expenditure. Our next challenge will be monitoring the impact of implementation, and where possible, working to mitigate the worst impacts for our clients.
It'a also a challenge to persuade the coalition Government on the need to provide statutory regulation to protect consumers against unfair business practices, because it believes deregulation will stimulate growth particularly for small businesses. Whilst the Government agreed with us that private parking firms needed to improve their practices, they felt that self regulation was the best way to do so. In contrast, they have taken a firmer stand on the future regulation of consumer credit.
Looking ahead, we'll have more resources for both national and local policy work and consumer education. In April 2012, the Government announced that Citizens Advice would be given the general advocacy functions of Consumer Focus and the consumer education role of the Office of Fair Trading from April 2013. With consumer advice, advocacy and education all under one roof, consumers will get a holistic service that helps them resolve their problem, learn how to avoid similar issues, and get involved in making sure the same thing doesn’t happen to others.