Cost crisis 2023 meant a year of campaigning
Cost crisis 2023 has meant high demand for advice but also campaigning for mitigation of troubles facing so many. All year our Research & Campaigns team has worked with national and Surrey Citizens Advice on behalf of those most affected.
We have called for policy to protect vulnerable and low-income households by improving the level, accessibility and targeting of support. This often overlaps with our other 2023-24 campaigns on housing, digital exclusion and health and disability. Our data and recommendations naturally target policymakers but also business sectors, notably energy, housing, banking and food.
Every month Citizens Advice held public cost-of-living briefings we attended. These events help us place local problems in context but also see how our advisers’ careful records contribute to a national picture highly valued by ministers and decision-makers. Register for December Briefing with Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis.
We regularly meet and brief our MP and council officials and make our information widely available on the website and social media.
In the borough, energy bills, soaring private rents and food price inflation have been among the biggest worries. In combination they have left many clients in debt, some with an impossible ‘negative budget’ (the cost of essentials exceeds income from work and/or benefits).
Our campaign work has helped deliver important successes. In its Autumn Statement the government confirmed that benefit levels would rise by inflation as normal; and that local housing allowance – so important for low-income private renters – would rise from its inadequate current level.
During the year we have had positive conversations with local housing associations about their requiring the replacement of flooring material whatever its quality with every change of tenant. At a meeting in September (?) we were pleased when they agreed to modify the policy. It may sound like a relatively minor matter but having to pay for new flooring at the start of their tenancy was frequently leaving people in perilous financial circumstances.
We also supported the campaign to stop railway ticket offices closing including at local stations. In time universal digital ticketing will undoubtedly improve train services for all; but for now and medium-term it would exclude many citizens who have neither the skills nor equipment to benefit and depend on help from station staff.