Campaigning for change

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. 


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