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, discrimination or poor practice by local organisations. These examples are monitored and collated into reports. Reports can be sent to Citizens Advice nationally for lobbying of government or can be used to influence policy and practice at a local level in Hastings. Some of the issues we are working on right now include:
Access to Meter Readings
Many clients presenting with debts for utility bills are not able to take meter readings in Houses of Multiple Occupation. Meters are often grouped together in cellars, attics, or locked cupboards only accessible by the landlord; or in rooms rented by another tenant. Many of the debt issues could have been resolved sooner with accurate readings. We asked Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to intervene under Schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004. Council officers agreed to add a new condition to future HMO licenses. This requires landlords to ensure tenants are able to obtain gas, electricity and water meter readings at reasonable times during the course of the tenancy. This includes providing a written document on the location of the meters and ensuring a final reading at the termination of the tenancy. We continue to identify cases for HBC and work together positively for local people with debt issues.
Mobile phone contracts
We have identified a number of clients with issues with mobile phone contracts. This includes sale of multiple contracts, including to people with pre-existing mobile phone debts to the same phone company, contracts that people did not understand either through contract complexity or underlying client capabilities, such as a learning difficulty or mental health problems, and not being able to cancel contracts once a mistake had been realised. We are beginning work with Trading Standards in East Sussex to identify vulnerable clients who have been sold a mobile phone contract they do not understand to help them be released from those contracts.
If you would like to support our campaigns or are interested in finding out more about this work you can contact us via Adviceline on 03444 111 444. You can read more about National Policy Research here and Campaigns here.
If you need to contact us about a problem, you can call our local advice line on 01424 869352.
Alternatively, you can telephone a national advice line on 0800 144 8848.
Or you can contact us by email by