Research & Campaigns
The people who come to us for help can face huge challenges that can make their situation even worse. Often, they feel like politicians and policy-makers don’t understand the complexities of their lives, or prioritise the right things. That’s why at Citizens Advice across the country we’ve made it our mission to speak up for people. We know about the wider issues that contribute to problems for people in society. We use that insight, along with wider evidence collected by our policy experts, to show government and organisations how they can make things better for people.
Supporting GPs and healthcare staff to support patients to claim disability benefits 2019/2020
In order to successfully claim benefits to assist claimants who live with ill-health or disability, those claimants need to be able to persuade the Department of Work and Pensions that their ill-health is sufficiently serious and disabling to satisfy the rules of entitlement. In most cases, the claimant relies on their local GP surgery to provide a report on this. At Citizens Advice Kensington and Chelsea we are working with local surgeries to help them to understand the qualifying criteria for disability benefits and how they can write effective reports on behalf of their patients. We explain that, for the purpose of determining the outcome of a benefit claim, sometimes the GP is not best placed to comment on a patient’s functional abilities but the physiotherapist may be as the physiotherapist has had more current contact with the patient, for example. We have received positive feedback from the surgeries that have engaged with this training.
Working together to improve council tax collections for residents 2019/2020
We have worked with Kensington and Chelsea Council to develop good practice around the collection of council tax arrears. We are pleased that the council rarely uses external agencies to collect arrears and controls this within its own departments unless all other avenues have been identified. It was important for us that the council shared our views on what counts as vulnerability and additional needs when deciding whether to pursue arrears as this leads to us being able to work more collaboratively on behalf of the resident. Kensington and Chelsea council were happy to adopt our approach which includes consideration of ill-health, disability, other indebtedness and any other difficult circumstances. Finally, we agreed on the use of what is known as the Standard Financial Statement – a tool that can be used to set up affordable and sustainable debt repayments. We look forward to this approach being rolled out.
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take part in these campaigns.
National research campaign activity
Citizens Advice run numerous campaigns at a national level that can be seen here