Wednesday 14th June 2017
With the outcome of the General Election now known, leading local advice charity Citizens Advice Exeter, is calling on the new Government to fix the underlying causes of people’s problems in five key areas
- Improve the benefits system for those who need it Almost half of all the issues the charity helped people with last year related to benefits. Improving medical assessments for disability benefits and Universal Credit would make sure people aren’t left without the money they need to make ends meet.
- Make people’s jobs more secure In the last year the charity helped people with 1,000 employment issues. Many of these people are being denied their basic rights at work, like holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave. A stronger enforcement body is needed to confront employers that break the rules.
- Help people take control of their finances The charity helped people with 4300 debt issues last year. Prices are rising faster than wages, putting pressure on household budgets. A cap on interest for all high cost credit would make sure people never have to pay back more than twice what they borrow.
- Help people get a better deal in consumer markets The national Citizens Advice consumer helpline tackled over half a million problems for people last year. Protecting people on expensive standard tariffs in energy and telecoms would put money back in the pockets of hard-pressed households.
- Invest in advice to support people through change and uncertainty The world is changing quickly. Whether it’s what Brexit means for families or how to apply for Universal Credit, people need independent support and advice.
The call for action comes as the charity releases its annual advice trend statistics for the year-ending 31st March 2017. The charity helped 8091 people directly with advice and information.
The advice trends, compared to the previous year, were as follows:
Overall, the charity dealt with 9.7% more welfare benefit enquiries. The main increases being:
- 21.4% increase about disability benefits (PIP/DLA)
- 11.9% increase about employment and support allowance
- 10.0% increase about attendance allowance
The charity also dealt with 120 enquires about Universal Credit
Overall, the charity dealt with 6.9% fewer debt enquiries. The main changes being:
- 23.8% decrease about catalogue and mail order debts
- 17.2% decrease about credit card debts
- 11.9% increase about bankruptcy and debt relief orders
- 5.8% increase about overdrafts
Overall, the charity dealt with 15.4% fewer employment enquiries. The main changes being:
- 40.0% decrease about dispute resolution
- 12.2% decrease about dismissal
- 29.6% increase about employment tribunals
Overall, the charity dealt with 20.7% fewer housing enquiries. The main changes being:
- 26.4% decrease about private sector property
- 25.1% decrease about threatened homelessness
- 38.3% increase about housing association property
Chief Executive Steve Barriball said: “We are calling on the new Government to fix the underlying causes of people’s problems. From improving the benefits system; to making people’s jobs more secure; to helping people take control of their finances. These are all areas that the new Government needs to address to ensure that people in need, or at a time of crisis, get the help they need.”
Steve continued: “We are also calling on the new Government to help people get a better deal in consumer markets. Too often companies exploit people’s loyalty — and vulnerable people end up paying the most. We are also calling for greater investment in advice to support people through change and uncertainty, and for fines levied against companies such as banks, energy and telecoms to be used to help meet the need for investment in advice services. ”
Steve finished by saying: “Our commitment is always to provide the advice people need for the problems they face. However, we can only continue to do this if we have the necessary resources and we need to increase public and business donations. Anyone wishing to support our work can donate on-line by going to the Support Us section of our website (www.citizensadviceexeter.org.uk)”
Alternatively, donations can be made in person at the charity’s offices on Dix’s Field in Exeter.