Some problems are specific to the Charnwood area and when that is the case, we will bring the issue to the attention of local politicians and councillors.
Cost of Living Campaign
Citizens Advice Charnwood is supporting the national Cost of Living Campaign and raising awareness amongst local representatives of the difficulties faced by many of their constituents due to increased energy costs and rising inflation.
Those on the lowest incomes have been hardest hit and our frontline advisers are already supporting an increasing number of people in Charnwood who can't afford rent, food or heating. The number food bank referrals has risen significantly and there is growing concern about the further impact of the latest increase in the energy cap. It is predicted that, nationally, this increase will push an additional 2 million households into fuel poverty, bringing the total to 6 million.
Citizens Advice have proposed the following package of reform to address the cost of living crisis and are asking local MPs for support :
- Targeted support to low income households via an 'Energy Support Grant'
- Benefits to be uprated by the Bank of England current inflation rate rather than the September 2021 rate of 3.1%
- A temporary extension of the Warm Homes Discount to channel money to those that need it most.
- The cost of supplier failure levy to be spread over 2-3 years.
In support of the campaign Citizens Advice Charnwood have also produced articles for community newsletters across Charnwood alerting people who may have been affected by the rising cost of living to help available.
Improving the benefits system for disabled people
Citizens Advice is always looking to improve disabled people's experiences and outcomes when claiming benefits like Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit (UC).
A consistently high number of people have visited our offices for help with disability benefits. This included assistance with completing applications forms and advice on challenging or appealing the outcome of the work capability assessments for ESA and UC, and assessments for PIP.
Data published by the Ministry of Justice shows that around two-thirds of the PIP and ESA decisions taken to appeal are overturned. Many of our clients are now having to wait for over a year for their appeal to be heard. During this time they are struggling to manage without the financial support to which they are entitled and frequently experience a deterioration in their health as a result.
We continue to provide evidence in support of the need for a national campaign.