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Record numbers seek help from Citizens Advice Broxtowe

Citizens Advice Broxtowe have been helping people in record numbers since the start of this year with over 6,000 people supported by the charity. The winter months are expected to bring increased demand as energy costs increase with the darker nights and colder weather. We have handled over 14,000 problems so far and helped people to access a total of £2.5 million in additional income. This has been possible thanks to the generous support of Broxtowe Borough Council who have included Citizens Advice projects in the borough’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund Plan. Our Financial Resilience Broxtowe project has been an essential service for those already facing economic inequality. Continued support from the National Lottery Community Fund towards our Changing Lives project means that we can provide the right level of support for people facing severe and multiple disadvantage. In turn these projects release core resources to help more people with the problems they face.

In the first six months of the Financial Resilience Broxtowe project we have helped 271 to improve their financial wellbeing. This includes things like reducing spending, increase income and protecting any financial assets they may have. Many beneficiaries have received help to become more economically active or increase their income through jobs and skills support from our partner Futures.

Our work is crucial as we move into the winter months. A recent report from Citizens Advice reminded us that even with falling energy tariffs prices are still 60% higher than winter 2021. The report states: “Many households simply cannot afford to pay energy bills at this level. In the first 6 months of 2023, 7.8 million people have had to borrow money to cover their energy bills and 1.2 million children live in households which have had to go without heating, hot water and electricity. If the Government doesn’t step in, we expect to see these numbers rise this winter.” read the full report here.

At the same time Ofgem announced the new energy price cap. The maximum amount energy companies can charge per unit of energy.

From 1st October to 31st December 2023 a household with typical consumption on a dual electricity and gas tariff will pay:  

  • £1,923 a year if they pay by direct debit
  • £2,0252 a year if they pay by standard credit (on receipt of bill)
  • £1,949 a year if they have a prepayment meter 

Universal Credit -expansion of managed migration 

New details have been published regarding the expansion of managed migration to new Universal Credit (UC) areas and updates on the ‘discovery phase’ for claimants of benefits other than tax credits. This includes claimants in Broxtowe. So, if you receive a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) regarding your benefits it’s important to act upon it. The DWP are providing support but transition to UC will not happen automatically, you have to make a claim. If you fail to claim you could lose out on income. We are happy to help and advise.

UK Finance – new fraud report

UK Finance has published new statistics showing that under 25s are more likely than older age groups to have been targeted in an impersonation scam. A staggering 49% of under 25s who were surveyed said that they had been contacted by an impersonation scammer, compared to 32.5% of over 55s. They are also more likely to be persuaded to give out personal or financial information – 52% of those targeted said they actually shared personal information or made a payment as a result of the request.

Young adults aged 18-24 were the most confident of any age group in their ability to identify a scam (91%). This level of confidence could put them at risk, according to UK Finance, just over a quarter said they always take steps to check if the organisation can be trusted when asked for personal information out of the blue. This compares with over 60% of over 55s. 

You can read the press release “Gen Z more likely to be tricked by criminals and fall for impersonation scams” on UK FInance.

If you suspect you are a victim of a fraud or scam there is information on the Citizens Advice website about how to report it.

Citizens Advice set out their concerns relating to the government’s plans to delay action on net zero.

Whilst expressing concerns of the news of possible delays to actions on net zero our national body is most worried, as we in Broxtowe are, that the most vulnerable clients live in the least energy efficient homes and are likely to experience fuel poverty. Citizens Advice state:

We believe that net zero policies are a central part of the solution to the cost-of-living crisis. Delays and inaction on net zero policies cost consumers money and increase instability — and will have the worst effect on those who are already being hit the hardest. Poorly insulated properties leave consumers paying higher energy bills for colder homes. Upgrading Great Britain’s inefficient homes to EPC band C would save consumers £24 billion on their energy bills by 2030.

Read the full report here.

People can make simple changes to save money on their energy bills and don’t need to wait until the colder months to do so.These include:

  • Washing clothes at 30°C could save around £15 per year – and reducing the number of wash cycles by one per week could save a further £15
  • Reducing shower time to four minutes could save a typical household as much as £75 a year
  • Swapping one bath a week for a four-minute shower could save an average of £17 a year.
  • Avoiding overfilling the kettle could save around £12 a year on electricity
  • Draught-proofing windows and doors will help your home feel warmer and could save around £50 a year on bills.
  • Turning appliances off at the wall/plug when you’re not using them could save an average of £60 a year.

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