Research and Campaigning
As well as providing advice, Citizens Advice also looks at the policies and issues which have a negative effect on the lives of people in the Stroud and Cotswold District and campaigns to improve these by lobbying central and local government, public agencies and business groups for positive changes that can benefit everyone, not just those who come to us for advice.
The Research and Campaigning Team uses data and evidence provided by the local CA advisors to highlight underlying problems and local issues, which they feed through to national data collections and campaigns and use to raise awareness in our area. We also talk to neighbouring local offices to share knowledge and pick up on any common threads. We participate in regular awareness raising campaigns to ensure people are informed of their rights, such as National Consumer Week and the Big Energy Saving Week, and try to focus on local issues that have been raised by advisers and for which we might be able to make a difference.
In 2022/23 we are concentrating on issues arising from the Cost of Living crisis, particularly:
- Rebuilding our own ‘Crisis Fund’;
- Researching local Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) in our two local councils;
- Publicising the knock-on effects of delays to PIP claims.
In 2023/24 we plan to focus on:
- Looking into issues around digital exclusion, including in the banking sector as a number of banks have recently closed local branches;
- Researching what local housing organisations have been doing to ensure their rented properties are free of mould and damp;
The Research and Campaigns Group regularly prepares information to be distributed to local newspapers and parish newsletters. Some of our most recent are shown below:
Information for Local Newsletters
How to boost your State Pension and access the Household Support Fund in the Cotswolds
Do you know someone on a state pension who struggles to make ends meet? Or perhaps a couple? What if they could get a boost to their income? Too good to be true? A lot of other state pensioners certainly think so: a third of those who are eligible miss out. That’s a million older people scrimping and saving and going cold when they don’t need to.
This pension boost is called ‘Pension Credit’. It not only provides extra pension income: it can also cover or reduce a host of other costs – rent, mortgage payments, council tax, energy and utilities, TV licence, dentists and opticians and more. Overall, the effects really can be transformative to pensioners who are struggling.
How to qualify? State pensioner households may be eligible if income is less than £201.05 per week for single people and 306.85 for couples. Pensioner households with higher income may be eligible in some circumstances – for instance if there is a carer in the household or a disability.
So, have a think: do you know someone who may qualify? If in doubt, search for Pension Credit online, ring the Pension Helpline – 0800 99 1234 (8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday), or get in touch with us at Citizens Advice Stroud and Cotswolds, 0808 800 0510 (10-4 Monday to Friday, 10-1 Friday) where we can check you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. Don’t hesitate – Pension Credit can make a big difference.
Pension Credit may also help you to access the Household Support Fund for help with food, energy costs and wider essentials such as warm clothes, bedding, boiler repairs and the purchase of white goods. Citizens Advice Stroud and Cotswold Districts currently have funding from Cotswold District Council to help pensioners on Pension Credit or who are on a low income and struggling to make ends meet. Please do contact us if you are interested in accessing the fund.
Letter to Local Housing Organisations
Dear Head of Repairs and Maintenance
In a well-publicised case last year, Rochdale Coroner’s Court came to the conclusion that the sad death of Awaak Ishak was in part due to the levels of damp and mould in the Housing Association property where he was living with his family.
In November 2022, the Secretary of State wrote to you and all other affordable housing providers asking you to assess the damp and mould issues in your housing stock, including the prevalence of damp and mould category 1 and 2 hazards. The Secretary of State also asked you to assess what actions you have identified that may need to be taken in relation to damp and mould issues in your housing stock.
Our Citizen’s Advice office covers a large geographical area comprising of Stroud District and Cotswold District. We are regularly approached by clients reporting problems with damp and mould in their rented property, with 28 cases across all tenures recorded since April 2022.
We want to assure these clients and others like them that landlords are working to address issues related to mould and damp. It would be very helpful to know how far you have got in actioning the Secretary of State’s recommendations, specifically:
- What progress you have been able to make in completing the assessment of your properties
- What the results are so far
- If applicable, what changes you have felt needed to be made to your policies and procedures.
We appreciate the constraints under which landlords work. Our advisers are also extremely busy. It would be good for us to be in a position to give feedback to our clients on this issue without having to contact you each time.
Citizens Advice Stroud & Cotswold Districts.