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Martin Lewis – Money Saving Expert and man of ideas

By Research & Campaigns Team
Martin Lewis, primetime Money Saving Expert and campaigner, was his plain-speaking self when he joined the latest CA cost-of-living briefing*. And not just on his special subject.

In lively discussion with Clare Moriarty, CA national CEO, Martin shared some challenging thoughts about the problems facing many clients. “We’re a society that has a real problem.” “An incredibly polarised society.” “Getting stuff done is more important than taking a stand.”

He was also generous in his praise of the “phenomenal good” achieved by frontline CA Advisers, some of society’s “unsung heroes”. To any present he said (and demonstrated) “Stretch behind and give yourselves a pat on the back”.

Of course he had advice on money-saving, Many people will pay more for energy this winter now government support has finished.


He spoke about a new price-cap-minus energy deal and about improving energy efficiency. For individuals he repeated his earlier advice to ‘heat the human not the house’; and ‘walking the talk’ he showed us his USB fingerless gloves for keyboard work and said heated jackets could keep costs down.

But on this occasion he had as much to say about policies and policymaking.

Policy ideas

Like Citizens Advice, Martin wants to see a new energy social tariff to help poor and vulnerable people. However he thinks it’s hard to ensure that those most in need would actually benefit. One solution would be a central database of households in need accessible to all essential service providers.

The MSE’s analysis of a polarised society may explain why policy innovation is often hard work. As an example he raised starkly different experiences during the pandemic. One group, who could work at home and built up huge savings, has come through the price rises with money to spare. Another often could not and has not, as Citizens Advice cost-of-living data make painfully clear.

Stuck in their separate echo chambers, one group says “no one is saving” (there’s no need); the other “no one has savings” (how could they?).

Credit where due

A separate point – not so much a policy as campaign advice – explains why Martin Lewis and Citizens Advice have worked so well together for many years. Neither he nor we are political but always do our best to work with all parties.

Ahead of the Spring Budget we both campaigned for ministers to extend the Energy Price Guarantee. The chancellor accepted the advice. But, as Martin pointed out, most people benefited but few were fully aware of what had happened so Mr Hunt got little deserved credit. The consequence was no response to calls for more energy support this winter. The message? Always try to give credit where it’s due. We do our best.

Finally, some blunt but worthwhile information for anti-poverty campaigners from one of the best. It’s that cost-of-living payments are important, but many in the mainstream MSE audience find it hard to agree. Martin frequently get angry comments from people who say “I’m only scraping by” but receive nothing.

* Webinar 15 December. You can watch back here. Join us on 15 January for the next Citizens Advice Data Insights: Predictions for an election year find out more..

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