Research and Campaigns
One of the twin aims of the Citizens Advice service is to campaign to improve the policies and practices which affect people's everyday lives. Everyone who works for us contributes to this work, by identifying examples of unfairness and writing a report. These reports are dealt with by our team of dedicated volunteers who carry out further research and campaign to bring about improvements for the people of Lewes District. The top subjects we are working on right now are:
Lewes District Research & Campaigns update – November 2018
We continue to work with Trading Standards on scams awareness where our volunteers accompany Trading Standards Officers on home visits to victims of scams across the county.
Using Computers and Budgeting Survey
A waiting room survey was carried out in March 2018 asking clients about their experience using computers and with budgeting. A total of 106 respondents completed the questionnaire, with the following results:
- 59% claiming benefits
- 35% consider themselves disabled, of whom 38% said it affected their ability to use the internet
- 73% have access to the internet at home
- However, 32% are not confident of navigating the internet alone
- and 44% are not confident of filling in online benefit forms alone
- 63% answered ‘Very much’ or ‘Yes’ to the question whether they or others would benefit from a Citizens Advice run Hub to help with budgeting or managing money
Meridian Surgery, Peacehaven
We are working with the Patient Participation Group at Meridian Surgery to supply leaflets for their themed information stand. Each month there is a different theme, for example May was Mental Health, June was Scams Awareness and September was Prepare for Universal Credit. In October we also participated in the surgery’s Open Morning.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Client Survey
The East Sussex bureaux have carried out a survey to find out about clients’ experiences of ESA and PIP from the application process, to the medical assessment, mandatory reconsideration and appeals. A report is being prepared.
Bureau Evidence Forms
When we see unfair practices, our specialist caseworkers and volunteers generate evidence forms, which provide qualitative data to Citizens Advice. The graph shows the number of unfair practices identified so far in 2018. 35% of issues relate to Benefits & Tax Credits. Within this, PIP and ESA are the most common with poor administration by the DWP leading to severe delays and lost paperwork resulting in clients going into debt and relying on foodbanks. The number of Debt issues has increased, particularly problems with Lewes District Council handing Council Tax debt to aggressive bailiffs very early on, even in situations where LDC knows the clients are vulnerable and are experiencing unreasonable delays in their ESA/PIP claims.
If you would like to support our campaigns or are interested in finding out more about this work you can contact us via Adviceline 03444 111 444. You can read more about National Policy Research here and Campaigns here.