Campaigning for change

campaigningThe experience of local Citizens Advice gives a unique, fresh insight into the problems faced every day by people living in the UK.

As well giving advice we also use what we see and hear to prevent problems in the first place. The stories clients share with Wiltshire Citizens Advice gives us a unique insight into the problems faced by people in the UK. With over two million clients seen in England and Wales each year it's the kind of evidence that's hard to ignore; it's all too apparent when policies and services cause people problems.

We see it as our responsibility to create a public debate around these issues and to speak up for clients. 

Citizens Advice, locally and nationally, collects evidence of CAB clients' problems and uses this to campaign for changes in national and local policies and services. We have a key role in speaking up for clients, raising issues brought to us, contributing to public debate and informing legislation.

The policy / campaign work of the Citizens Advice service covers a huge range of issues including consumer, debt, housing, benefits, immigration, employment, legal matters and health. We work with policymakers, regulators, MPs, Assembly Members and service providers.

 

Helping to help more people than the people we see

Everyone is affected by rules and principles which shape the services and benefits we all rely on.  These may include regulations, codes of practice, legislation, guidelines and policies of service providers; they may be national, regional or local. All social policy work undertaken is rooted in the experiences of real people who are adversely affected by these policies; social policy is about campaigning to bring about changes to make the rules (and their implementation) fairer for all.

The Citizens Advice service has built a strong reputation for independent analysis and has worked with government, companies, regulators, trade associations and consumer groups to secure change for those who are adversely affected by unfair policies.

It is recognised that the best way to tackle any problem is to treat the cause, not just the symptoms. This is what social policy aims to do. We cannot see everyone who needs help individually and many people do not access our services, for various reasons. However, we can - and do - reach out and help people beyond our core service users through our social policy work, by bringing about changes that reduce unfairness.


Current campaigns

Housing: There's no place like home

Why are we running this campaign?

house statsAffordability, the high cost of renting and changes to Wiltshire Council’s housing allocation policy are all affecting people’s ability to provide a safe and stable home for their families.
 
Last year more than 2,000 people came to us for help with over 2,800 housing problems. Overwhelmingly, the biggest housing issue we helped with was private rented property.
 
This, along with feedback from our frontline workers is why we have chosen to look at local housing issues and what can be done to tackle them for our latest campaign.
 
Why now?
 
In Wiltshire, as across the UK in general there is a high demand for affordable homes; and demand outweighs supply.
 
In December 2014, Wiltshire Council introduced a new Allocation Policy to ensure that “affordable housing in Wiltshire is offered to those in greatest housing need”. The Council now have a waiting list of 1,600.
 

With the introduction of Universal Credit to Wiltshire in March 2015, Housing Associations developed new affordability tests for prospective tenants. Our research has shown that the criteria varies, adding to challenges for people looking for a home.

With the average Wiltshire house price c.£212,000 but the average salary just over £20,000, buying a home is beyond the means of many people in Wiltshire. This coupled with the lack of affordable housing means it is no surprise that many families are turning to the private rental market. Rent prices
 
 
But neither is renting that affordable. Private tenants typically pay out over 40% of their wages in rent; and for too many renters - high fees, ‘rogue’ landlords and poor conditions are a fact of life.

To find out more download our 2-page Housing: Emerging trend report below:


 
How can you get involved?

Simple ways you can get involved…

Your real life experiences demonstrate the impact policies and services have on people’s lives.

They show the human stories behind our facts and figures.

Our team are currently collecting real life stories and evidence of housing issues in Wiltshire...

Here’s how you can take part in our There’s no place like home campaign...

Theres no place like home post card
1. Tell us why there's no place like home

A home is more than bricks and mortar; it is a sanctuary, a safe haven. It is a place to relax - a place full of wonderful memories.

As part of our research into the state of housing in Wiltshire, we're asking local residents to tell us what makes your home so special to you.

Please click on the following link: http://www.instant.ly/s/MAj8c and fill out a 'virtual postcard' to tell us what your home means to you.

 

2. Tell us about your housing situation
 
Whether you are safe and settled, or looking for a place to live, tell us about your current housing situation and help us build up a clear picture of making a home in Wiltshire. 
 
We've designed a short survey with just 6 questions, please help our research by completing a copy.quotes 1a
 
Go to: http://www.instant.ly/s/cV39i to fill out our questionnaire.

 

Need housing advice?

Whether you are looking for a place to live, or already renting home, housing issues will always arise and therefore you need to know your rights and responsibilities.
 
You could also find yourself threatened with eviction if you can't cope with your mortgage payments.
 

 

 


Recent work and campaigns

Esa jelly campaigner smallerMaking Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) #FitforWork

What was the problem?

Ill and disabled people were being let down by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – the benefit that is intended to support people while they are too ill for work.  Many people were facing charges for the medical evidence they needed to support their claim, enduring poor customer service and low quality decision making, and then being left without any financial support if they decided to challenge poor decisions made as a result of this flawed process.

What happened?

Now, if an ill or disabled person needs to apply for ESA, changes to the form they fill in and the guidance provided around medical evidence should help them get the supporting information they need – for free. The Department for Work and Pensions and a new assessment provider have committed to further training and support to improve the assessment experience and decision making, so claimants should have a better experience and more decisions should be right first time.

Find out more about our Campaign to Make ESA Fit for Work

 

Payday loans campaign


What was the problem?

sams story

Payday loan companies were not treating their customers fairly. The payday loan industry was breaking its promise to clean up its behaviour. Citizens Advice called for payday lenders to be properly regulated and to stop irresponsible advertising.
 
In the last four years the Citizens Advice service saw a ten-fold increase in the number of debt clients with payday loans, while our evidence showed that payday loan companies were not treating their customers fairly - and were even breaking regulations and guidance regarding responsible lending.
 
Most of the problems we were hearing about related to payday lenders not checking that customers could afford the loan, and pressuring them to ‘roll over’ the loan when they struggled to pay it back on time, as well as the way in which lenders took payments from their customers’ accounts – leaving them with no money for essentials.
 
We were also concerned about the glossy advertising practices of payday lenders, which were often irresponsible and misleading, masking the reality of debt. Finally, we wanted to make sure people knew about the alternatives and where to go for help.
 

How we got involved

Wiltshire Citizens Advice took an active part in raising awareness about this campaign and collected clients’ stories of their experience of pay day lenders as evidence. We wrote to the Wiltshire MPs to ask them to attend the High Cost Credit Bill vote in Parliament last July. The Bill would: restrict the advertising of payday loans; restrict the use of the continuous payment authority by payday lenders; and require payday lenders to signpost customers in financial difficulty to sources of free and impartial debt advice. We also asked our supporters to get ‘mad about the ad’ and report irresponsible or misleading payday loan adverts to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
payday lenders smallers
 
What happened?
From the 1 April 14, the Financial Conduct Authority introduced tough new rules on payday lenders.
 
Cap on the cost of credit: The Government announced that there will be a cap on the amount of money a loan can cost you by 2015.

Advertising practices under the microscope: Complaints were made about 23 payday loan ads and a number have already been banned.

Funeral Poverty: A plan for managing the impact of funeral costs

Wiltshire Citizens Advice (WCA) has been concerned for several years over the number of people we see who have experienced problems paying for a funeral. These problems often lead to debt and anxiety at a time when people are vulnerable due to bereavement. Funerals pose significant financial risks for anyone, especially people on a basic or low income.funeral report

Funeral costs have been rising by more than inflation, making it all the more difficult to manage money at a time of grief and loss. Dying in the UK now costs over £7,000, on average. With even basic funeral costs now over £3,000, funeral poverty is growing each year (Sun Life, 2012). The full costs may not be realised until it is too late to cut back. In the context of limited financial support available, even for those eligible for state benefits, WCA investigated how good practice might help address the risk factors between a death and a potential debt. This was done by surveying funeral directors in Swindon and Wiltshire and following up the surveys with interviews.

The results were used to develop a 4-point code for good practice to stimulate discussion.  WCA hopes that organisations across Wiltshire and Swindon – and elsewhere – will sign up to this and improve the situation. 

To read our Funeral Poverty report about managing the impact of funeral costs and the 4-point code for good practice please click on the link below and download your copy. 



impact reportSocial Policy Impact Report for Wiltshire Citizens Advice

Our Social Policy Impact Report gives you a flavour of the work going on in Wiltshire Citizens Advice and the impact it has had on our clients and also the wider public.

Wiltshire has a strong history of undertaking social policy work and from this report you will see the breadth of the work that has been carried out throughout the county from 2004 to 2011.

To download a copy of Wiltshire Citizens Advice’s Social Policy Impact Report please click on the link below:

 

 

Citizens Advice past campaign successes


Over the years we have campaigned on a range of different issues in order to improve the policies and services that affect our clients. These are just a handful of the campaigns we are most proud of.

Universal credit

What was the problem?

We were concerned that low income families on universal credit were likely to see support for childcare costs decrease from a maximum of 95 per cent to 70 per cent. This would mean that most low waged parents with young children wouldn’t be better off in work.

What happened?

The Government announced it would implement one of our key recommendations to increase the support available for childcare costs from 70 per cent to 85 per cent. More about our universal credit campaign.

Bailiffs

What was the problem?

Every year, tens of thousands of people experience unacceptable and sometimes aggressive harassment at the hands of bailiffs. We campaigned for tighter regulation of the bailiff industry and to increase awareness of people's rights regarding bailiffs.

What happened?

Following our campaign the Government published new guidance for local authorities on collecting council tax arrears. This means 1.5 million residents are better protected from aggressive bailiffs and millions more could be once the Government implement mandatory training and certification for all bailiffs in April. More about our bailiffs campaign.

Legal Aid reform

What was the problem?

Reforms to legal aid meant that more and more people could not find help when they needed it most. We were concerned that further reforms would put access to justice for ordinary people at risk.

What happened?

We campaigned to influence two Ministry of Justice consultations on transforming legal aid and judicial review and secured key concessions on a number of important issues. More about our legal aid campaign.

Read more about how our clients and the wider public have benefitted from our sucessful campaigns - campaign successes.


 Campaign for us

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you don't change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understood