Nine out of 10 benefit claimants are not ready to deal with Universal Credit - the new single payment benefit that will replace six means tested benefits - and are likely to lose out when it is introduced nationally in October, according to a Citizens Advice survey.Data from people in Birmingham, North Dorset and Wales
Over nine months, Citizens Advice collected data from almost 1,800 people in Birmingham, North Dorset and Wales who would have to access Universal Credit.
The charity said the findings of the survey:
- showed that many people would struggle to budget, did not have the right bank account or could not manage their benefits online – with the result that many could end up facing hardship and debt.
- should sound alarm bells in the government, especially as the scheme begins in October and has been dogged by rumours of IT failures.
Universal Credit claimants will have to:
- Access benefits online;
- Pay rent themselves, rather than Housing Benefit going directly to landlords
- Have a bank account which can handle direct debits.
Eight out of 10 people affected, says Citizens Advice, "don't have the basic information about what is about to happen" when Universal Credit is introduced.Five possible problem areas
Survey respondents were asked whether they felt they would be able to cope with five possible problem areas:
- Monthly payments
- Staying informed
- Internet access.
Ninety-two per cent said they felt unprepared for the new system in at least one area.
Two-thirds said they would need help to "get online and manage my universal credit account".
Three-quarters said they could not on their own "keep track of my money on a monthly basis".
- New report shows the bedroom tax is having a devastating impact in one of the poorest areas of the country (link opens in a new window)
- Minimum wage risks becoming going rate for millions, low pay pioneer warns (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 8 July 2013
Advice services will be critical in helping people deal with welfare reforms, according to a new report, Why Advice Matters, published by the Northern Ireland Advice Services Consortium (Advice NI, Citzens Advice and Law Centre (NI).
The report considers the likely impact of welfare reform on people across Northern Ireland and how advice providers will b e called upon to help those struggling to cope with the changes.
Use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local advisers and other sources of further help.Also in the news Banking
- New proposals to improve care for vulnerable older people: have your say (link opens in a new window)
- Bishop of Truro: 'A lot of evidence some people have to use food banks because of benefits system glitches' (link opens in a new window)
- Work and Pensions Committee to question DWP Ministers on progress with introducing Universal Credit (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 5 July 2013
A survey conducted online by parenting club Bounty to more than 2,000 mothers showed:
- The biggest shock is the cost of childcare – with nearly a quarter (23%) nationwide saying it’s the expenditure they were least prepared for – followed by the cost of formula milk (16%) and paying to keep the house warm (14%)
- Even though many reported struggling with a range of unexpected
costs, mums said getting
emotional support from their partners was more important than material help
- However, and unsurprisingly, 51% said their partner bringing
home a wage or salary was crucial too, during the period when most
mums stay at home to focus on childcare.
The report shows that families on different incomes feel the financial squeeze differently:
- Mothers on low incomes are least prepared for the cost of keeping their house warm – 19% of these households chose heating as the biggest price shock (compared with 14% of higher income families) – while only 13% said childcare (compared with 26% of wealthier households)
- Poorer families are also less likely to be prepared for the cost of disposable nappies than those who are better off. These mothers – as well as younger ones and those living in London – are also most likely to say they will spend less on baby items including prams, nappy bins, baby clothes, branded nappies and breast pumps if they have another child
- One in 10 families said cutting ‘essential’ household spending,
for example on heating
their home and putting food on the table, is the most helpful way to make ends meet in
the first year. Poorer families are almost twice as likely to admit to cutting essential
spending as the better off (13% on the lowest incomes said this had helped them manage
their money most, compared with 7% on higher incomes)
- Where the women live also makes a difference. In London, only 3% say cutting spending on heating and eating helped the most, compared with 14% in the South East and even more in Northern Ireland
- 14% of mothers surveyed said resorting to overdrafts, credit
cards or loans most helped
them manage the family finances, suggesting many families are struggling to cope with
the additional costs of having a baby.
David Holmes, Family Action Chief Executive, said:
“This report shows just how vital it is for first-time parents
to plan ahead before the baby is born and think about how they will
handle both money and relationship issues. It also shows many women
are struggling with the unexpected costs of a first baby. The
report demonstrates why investment in better services and support,
such as those provided by
children’s centres, particularly for lower income and disadvantaged families is so important.”
If you have or are expecting a child and are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.
The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help. This includes information for people expecting or bringing up a child and information about education costsAlso in the news Mental health
- People with mental health issues over four times more likely to be in debt crisis (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 4 July 2013
Official Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures published this month evaluating the numbers affected by the benefit cap in these areas show that by the end of May 2013:
- Nearly four out of five (78%) of people affected by the benefits cap are lone parents.
- 2,435 households have been affected by the benefit cap in the four affected London boroughs - 6% were in Bromley, 20% in Croydon, 48% in Enfield and 26% in Haringey.
- Only 58 of the 2,435 households do not have dependent children living with them
- 33% of households that were capped have had their benefit reduced by £100 or more per week.
From 15 July 2013, the benefit cap will be introduced in other parts of the country.
The Government intends that all households that the cap applies to will be capped by the end of September 2013.Turn2us resources
Read the Turn2us Benefit Cap information sheet to find out more about how the benefit cap works and who is exempt.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.
The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains many resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.
Date of publication: 3 July 2013
The roll out of Universal Credit, the new benefit which will eventually replace several means-tested benefits, started in April in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire areas. From 1 July, jobseekers in Wigan can make a claim for Universal Credit and people in Oldham and Warrington will be able to make claims from 29 July. The majority of these claims will be made online.
- Fulfilling Potential: Making It Happen action plan document published (link opens in a new window)
- Tanni Grey-Thompson: Disability benefit cuts hurting and threatening memory of Paralympics (link opens in a new window)
- Demand for food banks ‘has nothing to do with benefits squeeze,’ says Lord Freud (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 3 July 2013
The minimum cost of living has soared by a quarter since the start of the economic downturn, according to the latest Minimum Income Standard (MIS) report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which details the true inflationary pressures facing low income households.
The research finds families are facing an "unprecedented erosion of household living standards" thanks to rapid inflation and flat-lining wages.Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Minimum Income Standard report
JRF’s annual Minimum Income Standard (MIS), which is based on the goods and services members of the public think people need in order to have a minimum acceptable standard of living.
Since the research was first published in 2008, the cost of the MIS basket has increased by 25 per cent, compared with 17 per cent for the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), the standard measure of inflation. The inflationary pressures facing low income households are far greater than official measures suggest.Rising costs and earnings
Rising costs have implications for the earnings people now need to get by. In 2008, a single person earning £13,000 would have reached the minimum. If their wage had risen in line with average wage increases, they would now earn £14,000 - well short of the £17,000 salary needed to cover higher living costs in 2013, according to today’s report.
In 2013, to reach an adequate standard of living:
- A single person needs to earn £16,850
- A working couple with two children need to earn £19,400 each
- A lone parent requires earnings of £25,600.
The cost of essentials has driven up the earnings required by families. Over the past five year, costs of:
- Childcare have risen over twice as fast as inflation at 37%
- Rent in social housing have gone up by 26%
- Food have increased by 24%
- Energy have risen by 39%
- Public transport are up by 30%.
Cuts to benefits and tax credits have exacerbated the problem over the past 12 months. The Coalition’s flagship policy of raising the personal tax allowance to £9,440 in April has helped, but is cancelled out by the cuts and the rising cost of essentials.
The freeze in Child benefit, the decision to uprate tax credits by just 1% and the increase in the cost of essentials faster than inflation mean that a working couple with two children will be £230 worse off a year; a working lone parent has £223 less disposable income and a single person is worse off by £49 per year.Joseph Rowntree Foundation comment
Katie Schmuecker, Policy and Research Manager at JRF, said: “Our research shows that the spiralling cost of essentials is hurting low income families and damaging living standards. The public have told us their everyday costs have soared above wage levels, driving up the amount they need to make ends meet.
“Inflation has impacts for us all, but is most keenly felt by the poorest. Balancing weekly budgets has become an unenviable task for those who are worse off. Help for families in paying for essentials at more affordable prices can be just as important as improving household income - a precarious combination of rising costs and falling incomes leaves families in a risky position.
“Cuts to benefits and tax credits – especially cuts to support
for childcare – combined with stagnant wages and the rising cost of
essentials is resulting in an unprecedented erosion of living
standards. The government has introduced measures like raising the
personal tax allowance to try and help, but any positive effect is
more than cancelled out. If the government wants to help these
struggling families, they have to make sure that different policies
join up rather than contradict each other.”
Date of publication: 2 July 2013
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Whilst elements of today’s Spending Review are encouraging, such as the decision to freeze Council Tax for two years which could save households almost £100, we are concerned about some of the deep cuts planned.
The additional £4 billion reduction in welfare spending will come at a time when millions have already experienced cuts to their benefits, and with Housing Benefit, tax credits, disability benefits and pensioner benefits included in the welfare spending cap that’s due to be introduced, the effects could be far-reaching.
Furthermore, many individuals and families may struggle to cope
with the seven day delay in claiming benefits. With recent research
revealing that eight million Britons have no savings at all, there
is concern that people will be forced to turn to food banks and
payday loans to make up the shortfall.
We know from speaking to the people we help that pressure on finances is greater than ever. With further public sector job losses and cuts to local services expected, the forecast looks worrying.
It is more important than ever that people can access financial support and advice now. Anyone who is worried about their situation can use the resources available on our website to check their entitlements to welfare benefits and grants, find information about further financial help, and find an adviser in their local area.”
Date of Publication: 26 June 2013
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has now announced the
details of additional public consultation about the Personal
Independence Payment (PIP) ‘Moving around’ activity.
The Moving around activity assesses a PIP claimant’s ability to physically stand and move around. It is one of two activities that are assessed to decide a claim for PIP mobility component. The other mobility activity is ‘Planning and following a journey’, and would generally apply to people with sensory impairments, learning difficulties or mental health conditions.
A person has to score a total of 12 points (either from one
activity or by adding points from both activities together) in
order to be entitled to the enhanced (higher) rate of PIP mobility
component, currently worth £55.25 per week.
A person who scores between 8 to 11 points will be entitled to the standard rate of PIP mobility, currently £21.00 per week.
A person who receives enhanced PIP mobility can apply to rent or buy a vehicle from the Motability scheme, but the Motability scheme is not open to people receiving only the standard rate of PIP mobility.
The DWP had already carried out two consultations about the PIP qualification rules in 2011 and 2012, but when the PIP regulations were published in February 2013 disabled people were concerned that a person would only score 12 points under the Moving around activity if they could stand and move for no more than 20 metres. A person who can stand and move around for ‘more than 20 but no more than 50 metres’ would only get 8 points if they could move this distance unaided, and 10 points if they would need to use a stick or other mobility aid. There had been no mention of the 20 metre restriction for enhanced mobility component in either of the two previous consultation exercises.
In the introduction to the current consultation the DWP
“We have received feedback from some disabled people and their organisations saying that they are unhappy with the changes that were made to the assessment criteria for the Moving around activity as a result of the consultation and want a further opportunity to have their views considered. Against this background, we have decided to carry out an additional consultation, seeking further views on the Moving around activity.”
The consultation documents is available here
The deadline for responses is 5 August 2013.
Consumers are being warned to check all household bills thoroughly after new research revealed that seven in ten consumers have been overcharged on at least one household bill in the past year. This is according to research by the comparison website Uswitch and reported on the Money Advice Service website.Key findings
- Almost all of the cases of being overcharged were identified by the customer rather than the bill provider
- One in three consumers have been overcharged more than once - with one in ten falling victim more than three times in the past year
- The average amount each individual has been overcharged by is £196 - more than one in ten have been overcharged by £400 or more
- The most common causes of overcharging were: charges added that shouldn't have been, incorrect tariff or product details being used or a special offer or discount not being applied to the bill; or the bill just didn't add up
- People who were overcharged in the past year had to wait 53 days or almost two months on average to get their money back again. More than one in ten is still trying to get the issue resolved
- One in four was successful in getting a refund. A further one
in ten received a ‘goodwill gesture' from the company or supplier
who had overcharged them in an attempt to make amends.
Date of publication: 21 June 2013
ABTA LifeLine - the Association of British Travel Agents' (ABTA's) charitable trust - is running a ‘Back to Work’ programme for people who have worked in the travel industry and are currently out of work.
If you have been employed in the travel industry by ABTA, ABTA members or organisations that sell ABTA products and you need help to get back into the job market, you may be eligible for a training grant from ABTA LifeLine.
Please contact [email protected] for more information on the programme and any other of the services the charity provides.More information about ABTA LifeLine
- ABTA LifeLine website (link opens in a new window)
- ABTA LifeLine on Facebook (link opens in a new window)
- ABTA LifeLine Twitter feed (link opens in a new window)
- Find ABTA LifeLine on the Turn2us Grants Search database
Date of publication: 24 June 2013
Today MPs will debate housing benefit and disabled people as well the under-occupancy of social housing and housing benefit entitlement - the bedroom tax. The debates have been secured by Jeremy Lefroy, Conservative MP for Stafford and Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield.Contact a Family
This is particularly welcomed by Contact a Family, the charity that supports families that have children with disabilities - as they are particularly affected by the bedroom tax.
Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family, said: "Contact a Family is extremely concerned that in April some families whose children cannot share a room with their brother or sister because of their disabilities and caring needs, will face a terrible dilemma: move to a smaller property that is unsuitable for their disabled child or face a cut in help towards rent. The Court of Appeal recently ruled the policy as discriminatory towards disabled children and their families. Contact a Family is calling for families in social housing to be exempt from the size criteria rules where their child's disability is a factor in the size of property that they have been allocated."Need for an extra bedroom
Families with disabled children often need an extra bedroom because their disabled child cannot share with their brothers and sisters. For instance a child with challenging behaviour may present a risk to siblings or a child with complex disabilities may require frequent or prolonged attention during the night which would be disruptive to anyone sharing their room.New rules
Under new rules due to affect social housing from April, a family seen to under-occupy by one bedroom will have their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent. If a family is seen to under occupy by two or more bedrooms the cut will be 25 per cent. By the government's own assessment 670,000 households are going to be affected in April 2013, with two thirds containing a disabled family member.
Last year Contact a Family campaigned for families with disabled children who need care through the night, to be protected from the bedroom tax. The House of Lords recognised the damage that the bedroom tax could cause and voted twice to limit its impact. Despite this the Government has gone ahead with the policy.
For more information, see the Turn2us Housing Benefit (England, Scotland, Wales) information sheet, Turn2us Housing Benefit (Northern Ireland) information sheet, and Turn2us timetable of changes to benefits and the benefits system
- Mental Health Foundation stress booklet (link opens in a new window)
- Ministry of Defence announces 5,300 army redundancies (link opens in a new window)
- Reality, resources, resilience: regeneration in a recession (link opens in a new window)
- Reducing poverty must be central to the debate about Scottish independence (link opens in a new window)
- Second reading of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill passed by MPs (link opens in a new window)
- Self-employed struggling with debts vastly beyond their earnings (link opens in a new window)
- Work and Pensions Committee take evidence from disability minister about Personal Independence Payment (link opens in a new window)
- Work and Pensions Committee to examine the Government's State Pension reform plans (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 23 January 2013
In a survey of 2,224 people, identified as eligible but not receiving the benefit:
- 65 per cent said they were not claiming because they did not think they were eligible; thought they were no longer eligible; or had too much money
- 92 percent said they would apply for Pension Credit if they knew they were eligible.
- 400,000 low income working families will be worse off with Universal Credit (link opens in a new window)
- New boost to help Britain’s most vulnerable young adults and the homeless (link opens in a new window)
- Energy bills to rise to pay for green power (link opens in a new window)
- Reinvigorating Workplace Pensions - new Department for Work and Pensions report (link opens in a new window)
- Universal Credit - meeting the needs of vulnerable claimants
- Read the November Turn2us News
- Benefits stigma in Britain - new Turn2us research
Date of publication: 23 November 2012
Small Charity Week (20-24 June) is dedicated to the thousands of small charities across the UK making a huge positive difference through the work that they do. This includes many charitable funds on the Turn2us Grants Search database, which give invaluable help for welfare and educational purposes to people in financial need
An initiative of the Foundation for Social Improvement, Small Charity Week has provided events and resources to help small charities get advice on policy, PR and fundraising issues. The week finishes on Friday with a Celebration Day, marked by a party on London's South Bank and local community events.
Transition funding for Council Tax Support schemes will not be extended beyond March 2014 according to Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government.
In response to a written question about what plans the government has to extend or repeat the transition funding provided to local authorities in respect of Council Tax Support, he stated:
"The transitional grant... was a voluntary grant for the first year of the new system of local council tax support. We have been clear from the outset that it was intended to give councils time to transition to the new localised regime and realise greater efficiencies - such as cutting the £200 million wasted from council tax benefit fraud and error. "
- MPs publish report on responding to change in jobcentres (link opens in a new window)
- Health watchdog investigates psychometric tests given to jobseekers (link opens in a new window)
- Banking Standards Commission highlights importance of financial education (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 20 June 2013
- There has been a 38% increase in problems with private bailiffs in the last five years (data from 07/08 to 11/12)
- Almost 9 in 10 problems with bailiffs relate to private bailiffs who are responsible for collecting debts including council tax debts and unpaid parking penalties
- Over 37,000 people sought online advice about council tax in April 2013 - 87% higher than the same month in 2012.
- From April 2012 to March 2013, Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) in England and Wales helped with 60,652 problems with bailiffs, a third of which were for council tax debts. During the same time period CA helped with 161,564 problems with Council Tax arrears.
In August 2012, analysis of 400 bailiff problems which people brought to CA found:
- 2 in 5 (39%) threatened the use of force to get in
- 16% said they would call the police to gain entry
- 1 in 4 threatened to take items that are banned from removal by bailiffs (such as clothing or work tools)
- 29% threatened to seize goods that belonged to someone else.
- In almost 4 out of 5 (78%) of the cases bailiff action has brought on stress and anxiety
- In 35% bailiff action has exacerbated clients mental or physical health problems (23% and 12% respectively).
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: “A third of the bailiff problems we help with each year are for council tax debt. We see cases where bailiffs overstate their powers, act aggressively and bump up debts by levying excessive fees and charges. Local authorities must protect people from bailiffs who flout the law by helping people early on who are struggling to pay their council tax. We urge councils to sign up to our protocol for dealing with council tax debt.Can Turn2us resources help you?
If you are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.
The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.
- Citizens Advice: Benefit sanctions cause hardship, moving jobseekers away from the job market (link opens in a new window)
- A new approach to tackling poor people's hunger recognises that food poverty isn't the only issue they are struggling with (link opens in a new window)
- Housing deposits require more than a decade's savings for first-time buyers (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 19 June 2013
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to launch a further consultation on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at the end of this month. The Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, says this follows significant feedback received from people with disabilities and organisations that support them asking to have a further opportunity to comment on the finalised assessment criteria rules around the mobility component.
Claims for PIP will continue to be processed under the current benefit rules until the outcomes of the consultation are decided.
Date of publication: 18 June 2013
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have produced e-learning resources to help you learn at your own pace and whenever is practical for you.Contents
The resources include information about:
- How and when to tell HMRC you have started self-employment
- Keeping accurate business records and how this will help you claim expenses and tax allowances
- Paying Income Tax and National Insurance contributions to HMRC - when and how
- Self assessment online
- Practical case studies on growing your business, including VAT and taking on staff
- Further information and glossary.
Date of publication: 18 June 2013
Planned measures in the Benefits Uprating Bill currently before Parliament will cap the increases of key benefits and tax credits at 1% - well below predicted rises in living costs. The government estimates this will push 200,000 more children into povertyChildren's Society and Bishops table amendments
The Children’s Society has joined forces with bishops in the Lords to table amendments that would remove support paid for children from the bill. Peers are set to debate these amendments when the bill reaches report stage in the Lords on 19th March.
If the Welfare Benefit Uprating Bill is passed, a total of 60% of the resulting savings will come from the poorest third of households, compared to only 3% from the wealthiest, according to the Children’s Society, who have analysed the government's impact assessment.
In an open letter published in the Sunday Telegraph on 10 March, 43 bishops call on peers from all political parties to support the amendments. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have not signed the open letter due to convention.
However both have voiced their support for the bishops' call.The Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement
“As a civilised society we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing. The current benefits system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with inflation.
“The Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill will remove this protection from rising costs of living for working and non-working families alike; families who are already facing a daily battle to make ends meet. These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the government.
“The government estimates this measure alone will push 200,000 more children into poverty. Politicians have a clear choice. By protecting children from the effects of this bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty.”The Archbishop of York's response
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said:
“We need to ensure that children, the most vulnerable, are protected from these changes which currently would have a negative effect on 9 out of 10 families with children.
I understand that 60% of savings from the up-rating cap would come from the poorest third of households – with only 3% from the wealthiest households. That cannot be right.”Other churches
The move has also been backed by leading individuals from the Roman Catholic and Methodist churches, the Baptist Union, the United Reform Church and the Evangelical Alliance.
- 9 out of 10 families to be worse off by up to £2,000 by 2015 - TUC (link opens in a new window)
- Office for Budget Responsibility head writes to Prime Minister disputing his austerity programme claims (link opens in a new window)
- Nearly four jobseekers chase each job vacancy - Unison survey finds (link opens in a new window)
- British women slip down scale on job security and equal pay (link opens in a new window)
- Fuel duty hits the poorest hardest and strangles the economy (link opens in a new window)
- Met Office has issued level 2 Cold Weather Alert (link opens in a new window)
- £60 million fund to help millions in Scotland heat homes (link opens in a new window)
- Help for Scottish people hit by the bedroom tax (link opens in a new window)
- Bedroom tax: shortage of small homes mean many have nowhere to move (link opens in a new window)
- Benefit cap national roll out to be completed by September this year (link opens in a new window)
- Commons Public Accounts committee: public spending cuts not informed by rational analysis (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 11 March 2013
A HM Treasury report, Independent Service Pensions Commission: Final Report into the future of pensions for public sector workers, such as teachers, National Health Service (NHS) staff, civil service and local government employees and Armed Forces personnel, has recommended significant changes to pension provision and the length of working service employees need to have to qualify.
The main recommendations include:
- Changing existing pensions from a final salary scheme to a pension based on average pay over the worker's employment
- Making the age that people can draw their public sector pension the same as the State Retirement Pension
- Increasing the pension age for people working in the uniformed services (Armed Forces, fire fighters and police officers) to 60
- A cap on the cost of public sector pensions to the tax payer
- A simplified system with more independent oversight and more involvement by employees about how the schemes are run.
It is widely believed that consumers will best be served by encouraging competition on the basis that this drives efficiency and delivers innovation. However, competition does not always work this way and it is consumers on low income that often lose out, but so do others who are vulnerable for reasons other than low income.
The fact that ‘the poor pay more’ is not news. This report updates the picture and shows that paying higher prices for utilities and credit can raise the cost of a minimum household budget by around 10 per cent – a ‘poverty premium’. The cost of many essentials such as energy and water are likely to rise and while we hope for a tide of economic growth which will lift all, poverty and vulnerability is not going to go away and indeed many people who are not seen as ‘poor’ will struggle to meet household bills.
Sources: Consumer Futures and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (links as above)
Date of publication: 17 June 2013