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Citizens Advice at the heart of offering advice to claimants and landlords coping with new direct payments of housing benefits
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have published findings on pilots testing the direct payment of housing benefit to tenants rather than landlords. The DWP have also announced they are extending the pilots for another six months.
In response, Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice said:
“Citizens Advice Bureaux are at the heart of the Government's welfare reforms, helping to prevent and mitigate the effects of people falling into rent arrears as they cope with new rent arrangements.
“Bureaux are supporting people in pilot areas with face-to-face advice on budgeting and managing their personal finances, so that landlords and tenants can get it right first time. It is thanks to intensive support like this that helps people manage.
"The Government must make sure everyone who needs it gets this type of support if it wants to achieve its aims of simplifying the benefits system through the introduction of Universal Credit, of which direct housing benefit payments are an important part.
“CABs are the go-to place for help with changes to the benefit system, supporting people to navigate new systems. DWP asked housing associations tenants where they go to for advice on money management, bank accounts or debt problems. CAB was the most common answer - no other source came close. The Service is keeping a watchful eye and will sound the alarm bell if they identify people suffering problems due to the way Universal Credit is being implemented."
Notes to editors
The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.9 million problems from April 2011 to March 2012. For full 2011/2012 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,500 service outlets across England and Wales.