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Citizens Advice says next government must act on “preventable problems”

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

As part of its 2019 election manifesto, Citizens Advice is calling for major reforms across welfare, debt, housing, consumer markets and energy.

Citizens Advice is calling on the next government to take action to prevent some of the problems faced by the millions of people who seek its help each year.

Proposals outlined in the charity’s manifesto include ending the benefits freeze and increasing working-age benefits by 2 per cent above inflation for four years beginning in April 2020, to help keep up with the cost of living.

The charity is also calling for an independent bailiff regulator to be set up, and a free, clear and accessible bailiff complaints procedure to crack down on bailiffs who break the rules. This is something debt charity StepChange would also like to see the next government introduce.

When it comes to housing, Citizens Advice is calling for section 21 eviction notices to be abolished and indefinite tenancies introduced in the private rented sector.

The charity would also like to see action to tackle the loyalty penalty, in which loyal customers are penalised to the tune of around £4bn a year for staying with their providers in essential markets such as broadband, home insurance and mobiles.

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 £4bn 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.”