Research and Campaigns
As well as giving advice, at Citizens Advice Richmond we collect evidence of practices and policies that are causing difficulties for our clients. Our knowledge of clients’ problems and circumstances enable us to campaign for change to get a fairer deal for everyone.
We collect evidence and statistics anonymously so that individual clients are not identified. We use this information to produce reports and to campaign locally and nationally for improvements in services and changes in the law by:
- Highlighting issues to MPs, councillors, and other policy makers
- Talking to our local Council about their services and attending forums and meetings
- Discussing problems with organisations and companies to persuade them to improve their services
- Submitting evidence and recommendations to Citizens Advice centrally, to contribute to national campaigns and sharing evidence and ideas with other Citizens Advice
More than a third of our clients have disabilities or long term health conditions and since 2013 we have produced several reports highlighting the serious problems that our sick and disabled clients have in claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). However in November 2016 the Government invited comments on wide ranging proposals in a Green Paper to improve employment support for disabled people and people with long term health conditions including assessment for ESA and PIP. (For a link to the Green Paper go to www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives)
We have taken the opportunity to suggest radical changes to the assessment for these benefits to streamline and simplify the whole process and make it more customer-friendly. We have also made several other comments on the proposals in the Green Paper in our response. (CA Richmond Green Paper Response)
Another area of serious concern is the difficulties that our low income clients face in finding and retaining accommodation in the private rented sector in a borough with the highest average rents in London and where most private landlords will not accept tenants who need support from housing benefit to pay their rent. Recently the Government invited comments on their proposals for the type of offences committed by rogue landlords that should enable local authorities to apply for them to be banned from letting in future. We have now submitted a report identifying the types of offence that we think should lead to landlords being banned from letting, with examples from the experience of our clients, and have added examples of other types of mistreatment by private landlords that we consider should be made illegal. (Rogue Landlord Report). We will continue to monitor the experience of our clients in the private rented sector and press for the enforcement of a decent standard of stable accommodation at an affordable rent.