What is Research and Campaigns?
Citizens Advice both locally and nationally uses clients’ problems as evidence to influence policy makers to review laws or administrative practices which cause undue difficulties to clients.
At a Local level Citizens Advice engages with local MPs and our local authority to highlight issues which our clients bring forward. Whilst at a national level Citizens Advice engages in policy research in order to recommend policy changes.
Focus on – Homeless access to banking and benefits
Citizens Advice national research over the past year has revealed that without an address, homeless people struggle to access the services and support they need.
Without an address to put on applications and a location to receive their post, homeless people can be locked out from accessing banking, benefits, housing and healthcare.
We want to know whether, in the case of homeless clients, banks across the country will accept the address of a post office or a PO box as an address to open and maintain an account.
We’d also like to know whether jobcentres across the country will accept the address of a post office or PO box to set up and maintain a jobseekers allowance or universal credit claim. Our Research and Campaign volunteers will be visiting banks and jobcentres in our area to ask whether these will be acceptable forms of address for homeless clients.
Our local results have helped inform a national report which will be the basis for further action.
Our Research and Campaigns Team have recently produced a resource that can be used with clients to help diagnose possible gambling issues. It also contains tips on how to reduce access to gambling triggers, and websites where further specialist help can be accessed. Our advisers use this to support clients during appointments.
To download this PDF click Gambling handout.
We also have smaller leaflets, ‘Gambling – help your self ‘, which focus on a simple message and use a simple call to action for self diagnosis, which you can download.
Martin Lewis- The Digital World and Me
Citizens Advice Calderdale want to encourage our older residents to engage with the digital resources available locally. We see this participation as something that could potentially enhance their lives both socially, through increasing social engagement using Skype and Facebook and also financially through savings gained using comparison websites and Freecycle.
View the Digital World and Me presentation to see our local research.
Basic Bank Accounts
Citizens Advice Calderdale has recently participated in a national survey of bank branches trying to find out if they are promoting Basic Bank Accounts.
Our latest research is a joint piece with Citizens Advice branches across the nation. Check this link for further information; http://bit.ly/2ekEeDB
Why research basic bank accounts?
Banking is important in today’s financially complex society. To get the best out of the digital world i.e. buying goods and services on line, people need to have a bank account. Managing your money on a day to day basis is made easier by budgeting for priority bills using direct debits and standing orders.
In 2009 Price, Waterhouse and Coopers assessed that households that were offline are missing out on an estimated £560 per year from not shopping and paying bills online. This lack of a basic banking facility particularly affects people who find it difficult to manage their money, are in debt or who have un-discharged bankruptcies.
What is the UK government doing to help promote banking for all?
With a significant proportion of the UK population still unbanked in 2000 the UK government worked with the banks to develop new simple accounts to increase financial inclusion.
What were the results of our local research?
Our own local survey parallel the national research showed that the most transparent and pro-active of the financial institutions providing accounts is the Nationwide Building Society where any customer with the correct ID can have access to a basic bank account.
Whereas the bank at the bottom of the basic banking provision list both locally and nationally is NatWest, who did not openly advertise their basic account and were often unsure about offering accounts to people made bankrupt.
Banks need to improve their training on basic bank accounts and need to review their procedures for eligibility for basic bank accounts allowing greater flexibility