A move to ensure post offices play their part in ensuring the most vulnerable people in society aren’t left high and dry by Universal Credit is being backed by Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Margaret Lynch.
Consumer Futures, which speaks up for people across the energy, post, water and industries, is calling on the Post Office and the UK Government to agree a range of new accounts to help customers manage their budgets to ease the transition to the new benefit, which replaces six existing benefits with a single monthly payment.
The organisation’s research shows that more than a third of benefit recipients expect to be worse off as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit and the way benefits will be administered in the future. More than a quarter of low income families say they would find it more difficult to budget for bills such as gas and electricity following the changes.
Margaret Lynch said:
“Post offices should be about much more than buying stamps – we want to see them as hubs for vital services at the heart of all communities.
“The roll-out of Universal credit threatens to leave some of society’s most vulnerable people struggling with budgeting and red tape, but their local post office could provide them with basic bank accounts and support to manage the new system.
“It’s vital that Ministers safeguard the post office network’s trusted role in providing these services at time of huge change within the postal industry and the welfare system, so that those most in need aren’t left high and dry.”
To read the full Consumer Futures press release, click on the link under ‘Useful sites’ below.
Consumer Futures is transferring to Citizens Advice Scotland and our sister organisation in England and Wales, Citizens Advice, in April 2014. This will give the Citizens Advice Service a bigger role in speaking up for people across energy, post and water and making sure they are treated fairly. Citizens Advice Scotland will also take on the Extra Help Unit, a Great Britain-wide referral-only helpline for people with complex energy or post complaints or who are at risk of having their gas or electricity cut off. The changes are part of a Government drive to make it easier for people to know where to turn for help with consumer problems.
Citizens Advice Scotland already stands up for consumers on issues like payday loans and used cars – and, together with Citizens Advice, was given more powers and funding to do this in 2013. In 2012 Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice took on a public helpline for people with consumer problems, called the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (03454 04 05 06). It also offers advice over email and web chat which can be accessed via www.citizensadvice.org.uk.