Next government must act on preventable problems, says Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice is calling on the next government to take action to prevent some of the problems faced by the over 2.5 million people who seek its help each year.
As part of its 2019 election manifesto the charity is calling for major reforms across welfare, debt, housing, consumer markets and energy.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“At Citizens Advice, we know the problems that people face every day, because it’s us they turn to for advice and support. But many of these problems are preventable. The next government has a major opportunity to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives. From fixing the difficulties people face with housing, welfare and debt through to ensuring consumers are protected in the shift to net zero.
“The benefits system needs to provide enough for people to live on. Private renters should have safe and secure tenancies with landlords who are held accountable. And people who fall into debt need advice, support and to be treated fairly.
“Where existing markets are failing - like the £4 billion loyalty penalty people pay for staying with essential service providers - they need to be rebalanced in favour of consumers and prevent those who can least afford it from being ripped off.”
Proposals outlined in the charity’s manifesto include:
Welfare - ending the benefits freeze and increasing working-age benefits by 2% above inflation for 4 years beginning in April 2020, to help keep up with the cost of living
Debt - an independent bailiff regulator, and a free, clear and accessible bailiff complaints procedure to crack down on bailiffs who break the rules
Housing - abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notices and introduce indefinite tenancies in the private rented sector
Consumer markets - action to tackle the loyalty penalty, in which loyal customers are penalised to the tune of around £4 billion a year for staying with their providers in essential markets such as broadband, home insurance and mobiles
Energy - consumer protections must be built in at the start as new technology products and markets emerge as the UK transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Notes to editors
- Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
- Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
- The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
- We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.