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If you become sick or disabled and lose your job you want to know that you will be supported. Poorly designed rules make it difficult to determine who is fit for work and who isn’t. Citizens Advice helps more people with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) than any other issue. So, we are calling on the Government to make ESA ‘fit for work’.
To get a better understanding of the issues around mandatory reconsideration, Citizens Advice carried out some in-depth research. The study “The cost of a second opinion” involved interviews with clients to examine the impact mandatory reconsideration has had on their lives.
Our research shows that reforms designed to improve how ESA decisions are reconsidered has led to an increase in delays and stress among claimants leaving some with no money whilst they await the decision.
We recommended that DWP should
In the last four years Citizens Advice has seen a ten-fold increase the number of debt clients with payday loans. Our evidence showed that payday loan companies were not treating their customers fairly and were even breaking regulations and guidance regarding responsible lending.
When the industry constructed a Good Practice Customer Charter in November 2012 we encouraged customers to tell us about their experiences. We gave this evidence to the Government and the Regulator. We also spoke out publicly about the problems we saw. We published a short guide on how to report complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and worked closely with local residents to remove irresponsible advertising locally.
Most benefit claims are now dealt with by phone. Claim lines are often on 0800 numbers, which are free from landlines but can cost up to 40p per minute from a mobile. Many people on low incomes only have pay-as-you-go mobile phones.
Evidence of the problem was gathered from bureaux in the North of England, and researched possible solutions. We raised awareness of the problem in Parliament and the Media, supported by bureaux around the country. Citizens Advice helped arrange meetings with civil servants to discuss solutions.
The DWP has reached agreements with 9 major mobile phone networks not to charge for calls to around 50 of their 0800 numbers.