Citizens Advice is calling on the next government to take action to prevent some of the problems faced by the over 2.5 million people who seek its help each year.
As part of its 2019 election manifesto the charity is calling for major reforms across welfare, debt, housing, consumer markets and energy.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“At Citizens Advice, we know the problems that people face every day, because it’s us they turn to for advice and support. But many of these problems are preventable. The next government has a major opportunity to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives. From fixing the difficulties people face with housing, welfare and debt through to ensuring consumers are protected in the shift to net zero.
“The benefits system needs to provide enough for people to live on. Private renters should have safe and secure tenancies with landlords who are held accountable. And people who fall into debt need advice, support and to be treated fairly.
“Where existing markets are failing - like the £4 billion loyalty penalty people pay for staying with essential service providers - they need to be rebalanced in favour of consumers and prevent those who can least afford it from being ripped off.”
Proposals outlined in the charity’s manifesto include:
Welfare - ending the benefits freeze and increasing working-age benefits by 2% above inflation for 4 years beginning in April 2020, to help keep up with the cost of living
Debt - an independent bailiff regulator, and a free, clear and accessible bailiff complaints procedure to crack down on bailiffs who break the rules
Housing - abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notices and introduce indefinite tenancies in the private rented sector
Consumer markets - action to tackle the loyalty penalty, in which loyal customers are penalised to the tune of around £4 billion a year for staying with their providers in essential markets such as broadband, home insurance and mobiles
Energy - consumer protections must be built in at the start as new technology products and markets emerge as the UK transitions to a low-carbon economy.