Research and Campaigns
At Citizens Advice Welwyn Hatfield we have two main aims:
- Providing impartial information and confidential advice.
- Collecting evidence for campaigns to improve the national and local policies that affect all our lives. All evidence is anonymised.
Your local Research and Campaigns team gathers evidence recorded by advisers, anonymises it and may use it to persuade national and local government to change policies and procedures.
Our Research and Campaigns work covers a wide range of issues including consumer advice, dealing with debt and money management, housing, welfare benefits, immigration, employment, legal matters and health.
We are independent and impartial, so policymakers listen to us.
Citizens Advice runs several national campaigns and annual awareness events. To find out more about current campaigns and how you can get involved, visit the national Citizens Advice website.
Some long-running current and recent national campaigns include:
A campaign, which started in 2015, aimed at improving the private rented sector. The recent focus has been on banning agents’ fees, retaliatory convictions, rogue landlords and rent refunds for unsafe living conditions. One recent success has been the Tenant Fees Act, which comes into force in summer 2019.
Across Hertfordshire there is a special advice project to help Universal Credit claimants with the problems that are putting many into debt.
This puts us in a good position to help with the national campaign. This campaign aims to improve the effective delivery of Universal Credit to claimants. Broadly, this means protecting claimants as they move from other benefits to Universal Credit and restoring and strengthening real world work incentives within Universal Credit.
Research last year on the scale of household debt estimated that people owe almost £19 billion to the government and essential service providers and they’re struggling to repay.
Household bill debt has now overtaken consumer credit as the most common money problem for our clients.
In general, household bill debts are more aggressively collected than consumer credit debt.
Problems related to the way bailiffs collect debts have grown rapidly. This is particularly relevant to Council Tax collection. Local Citizens Advice offices, including Citizens Advice Welwyn Hatfield, are urging their local councils to adopt a Council Tax Protocol. The protocol offers practical steps aimed at preventing people from getting into arrears in the first place and advises on procedures for ensuring that enforcement agents act within the law and guidelines.
Across essential services, customers are being penalised for their loyalty – from telecoms to financial services. Huge numbers of customers are on uncompetitive deals, paying far more for a service than a new customer would. Nationally, Citizens Advice is calling on the Competition and Markets Authority to introduce strong, long-lasting solutions to prevent people from being ripped off by the loyalty penalty.
8 in 10 bill payers are currently charged significantly higher prices for remaining with their existing supplier in at least one essential market. This disproportionately affects older, lower income and less educated consumers, and costs consumers several billion a year.
Big Energy Saving Week
Big Energy Saving Week, a national annual awareness week, ran this year in January. This national campaign helps people cut their energy bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to. We raise public awareness of how to save money on energy costs by switching energy supplier or tariff, accessing discounts or grants, and making homes more energy efficient. Citizens Advice has an energy price comparison tool. https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Scams Awareness Month
Scams Awareness Month is a national awareness campaign that runs in the summer every year. We share hints and tips to encourage consumers to find out more about scams, share stories and learn how to protect themselves, families and friends against these cruel crimes and predatory practices.
National Consumer Week is an awareness campaign that runs late in the year, often with a particular focus or theme around consumer issues. The 2018 campaign focused on consumer rights when using online marketplaces and what people can do if something goes wrong.
If we are running a local campaign, we will post information about it on our News & blog page and invite you to get involved using social media.