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Government right to help renters and those on living wage in Autumn Statement

22 November 2016

Citizens Advice responds to news that through the Autumn Statement the government will:

  • ban letting agent’s fees

  • strengthen minimum wage enforcement and increase the National Living Wage to £7.50 an hour

The charity has been calling for a ban on letting agent fees as well as increased enforcement on employment rights.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“This Autumn Statement will see that renters are hundreds of pounds better off thanks to the ban on letting agent fees.

“We’ve been highlighting the need to get rid of these fees for some time so we’re  pleased the government has taken action on this issue.  Fees have gone up 60% in the last 5 years with people paying over £300 to letting agents for what is often basic administration, such as checking references and running credit checks.  

“Stepping up enforcement on the national minimum wage will help people who are putting in hours of hard work, but aren’t getting the pay they are entitled to by law.  With more complex ways of working people are missing out on other rights, such as sick pay, so a sensible next step would be increased enforcement across all employment rights.

“There is still room to go further in helping just managing families - like looking at the cost of energy bills.  And there are changes government could look at which don’t cost any money, such as asking councils to review their debt collection practices to make sure people who can’t pay their bills aren’t pushed further into debt.”

Citizens Advice’s report on just managing families published on Tuesday 22 November highlighted 10 ways government can help just managing families in the Autumn Statement.

  1. Make energy companies switch loyal low income customers to a cheaper deal. Just 12% of energy customers who are on a low income are on the best deal
  2. Ban letting agents fees being charged to tenants. Private renters can pay as much as £700 when taking out a new contract with a landlord
  3. Make big companies be more transparent by publishing the contractual makeup of their workforce
  4. Cut energy bills for renters by making landlords upgrade the coldest, most drafty homes, funding costlier improvements by raising buy-to-let stamp duty to 4%
  5. Make sure people on a low wage get the most from their income by reversing the planned cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit
  6. Give self-employed parents the same support as employed parents by bringing Maternity Allowance into line with Statutory Maternity Pay and extending Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay to the self-employed
  7. Make it easier for workers to challenge exploitative employers, creating a Fair Work Authority to enforce the law and cutting employment tribunal fees to £50
  8. Encourage councils to pursue debts fairly so that bailiffs are only ever a last resort and council tax can always be paid in installments
  9. Give people who are self-employed the chance to opt-in to a pensions system
  10. Pause the planned cut to the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance until improved job support is in place

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.