Campaigning for Change
With a wealth of first hand evidence from our clients, we are able to establish the issues of injustice and hardship which affect people’s lives locally and support national campaigns to help raise awareness and lobby government and other regulatory bodies.
We work locally in Epsom & Ewell, together with our colleagues across Surrey, and nationally as part of the Citizens Advice network throughout the country, to identify the many incidents of injustice that come to our attention as part of providing advice to clients. In doing this, we always take care to ensure these activities do not jeopardise client confidentiality.
Local Campaign News
If you would like to know more about how you can get involved in our campaign work, please visit our Volunteering page. We have an enthusiastic team which needs a range of diverse but complimentary skills – including deep data analysis, in-depth client interviews, local and internet-based research, investigative interviews with businesses and organisations.
Here are some of the local research and campaigns activity that we have undertaken and which we hope have improved the lives of our clients, even if only in a small way:
Impact of High Cost Credit
We are undertaking local research into the use and impact of high cost credit – loans and borrowings that are hugely expensive to repay, primarily due to super-high interest rates. This includes analysis of the data we collect, and interviews with clients who have used high cost credit. We will be publishing our results in July 2017.
Motability Cars on Appeal
Again, working together across Surrey, we saw an issue for disabled people regarding mobility assessments for PIP (Personal Independence Payments) where there was Motability car involved. We see a number of cases for PIP that appear to us to have been unjustly assessed, especially around the mobility element, and help to take those through the appeal mechanism. However, where there is a Motability car involved, this was often lost while the Appeal process was in progress. We wrote to the Disabilities Minister, enclosing a substantive amount of evidence on how this was impacting people. In May 2017, a decision was announced by the Minister reviewing this policy.
Impact of Welfare Benefits Cap
Working together across the whole of Surrey, we are tracking the incidents where we give advice to people whose personal circumstances have been worsened by the introduction of the Welfare Benefits Cap. We are analysing these as the number of people seen grows, to see if there is a pattern of a clearly impacted group, particularly a vulnerable group, that we can then argue for greater help for.
National Campaign News
Over the years Citizens Advice has campaigned on a range of different issues in order to improve the policies and services that affect our clients. Here in Epsom & Ewell, we have played a part in making these achievable, and here are just a handful of the campaigns we are most proud of. More details of national Citizens Advice Campaigns can be found on the National Website.
Employment and Support Allowance
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.
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.
How did we support this locally?
Find out more about the Make ESA fit for work campaign.
What was the problem?
Payday loan companies were not treating their customers fairly. The payday loan industry was breaking its promise to clean up its behaviour. We called for payday lenders to be properly regulated and to stop irresponsible advertising.
From the 1 April 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority introduced tough new rules on payday lenders. More about our payday loans campaign.
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.
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.