Issues Government must tackle

Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Picture by Tim Ireland/PA Wire
Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Picture by Tim Ireland/PA Wire
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Citizens Advice has been helping people for 77 years. We’re most people’s first port of call when they have a problem to solve, and we’re here for everyone.

Last year our volunteers and staff helped some 2.7 million people with around 6.2 million issues.

And our online advice service was visited about 43 million times.

Citizens Advice Northumberland contributed to this staggering statistic by helping 14,700 local people with 43,900 problems.

We are most grateful to our team of trained staff and volunteers from our local community for their contribution.

We also work to fix the underlying causes of people’s problems.

We continually look at the problems people come to us with  —  face to face, on the phone and online  —  and try to find solutions.

This election is an opportunity for our new Government to promise to solve some of the most common problems people face.

Based on our evidence, this is where we believe it should start.

1. Improve the benefits system so that it works for the people who need it.

One third of all the issues we help people with relate to benefits.

Improving medical assessments for disability benefits and Universal Credit would make sure people are not left without the money they need to make ends meet.

2. Make people’s jobs more secure.

In the last year we have helped people with 350,000 employment issues.

Many of these people are being denied their basic rights at work, such as holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave.

A stronger enforcement body is needed to confront employers who break the rules.

3. Help people take control of their finances.

Citizens Advice helped people with 1.5 million debt issues last year.

Prices are rising faster than wages, which is putting pressure on household budgets.

A cap on interest for all high cost credit would make sure people never have to pay back more than twice what they borrow.

4. Help people get a better deal in consumer markets.

Our consumer helpline tackled more than half a million problems for people last year.

Too often companies exploit people’s loyalty  —  and it is often vulnerable people who end up paying the most.

Protecting people on expensive standard tariffs in energy and telecommunications would put money back into the pockets of hard-pressed households.

5. Invest in advice to support people through change and uncertainty.

The world is changing quickly. Whether it’s what Brexit means for your family, or how to apply for Universal Credit, people need independent support and advice.

Fines levied against companies, such as banks, energy and telecommunications, could be used to help meet the need for investment in advice services.

• If you need help in the meantime, you can call Citizens Advice Northumberland on 03444 111444, Monday to Friday, between 10am and 4pm.

Alternatively, you can call in person at one of our offices. See our website for opening times at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/northumberland

People can access online help at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/