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Publications

  1. Emma Ash
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    CAS welcomes the proposals for ECO3. The ECO scheme has helped deliver energy efficiency measures to vulnerable consumers in two other phases and we were pleased to see that BEIS and Ofgem are expanding consumer protections in this third iteration. In particular, we are pleased to see the incorporation of Trustmark into ECO3 to certify suppliers.  

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  2. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. It is important that we recognise the role that all bodies and sectors have to play in achieving the new and ambitious climate change targets that were passed in the Climate Change Bill in September 2019. 


    It is, however, imperative that the Scottish Government properly supports public bodies to meet any new duties or roles. It is important that public bodies are able to continue to provide the same (or higher) standard of service to citizens without inadvertently or intentionally passing on the cost of achieving emissions reductions to the very citizens they are trying to support.

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  3. Publication date:
    December 2019

    This policy report summarises findings and recommendations from our research into the complaints process for post and parcel companies. 

    CAS commissioned interviews with a number of delivery companies, and found that many are falling behind the Universal Service Provider Royal Mail when it comes to consumer complaints procedures.

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  4. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    In this response, Citizens Advice Scotland lays out our support of the broad aims of the principles within the policy statement, but urge that much more must be done to strengthen consumer protection and ensure that communities are involved in the process in an inclusive, sustainable way that meets their needs. 

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  5. The issues on which people are turning to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland for help.
    Publication date:
    December 2019
  6. A proposed guide for phone, broadband and pay-TV providers
    Kyle Scott
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland has called for phone, broadband and pay-TV providers to recognise that vulnerable consumers need extra support in accessing these services.

    In a response to a consultation by Ofcom which is seeking to provide guidance to providers on treatment of vulnerable consumers, CAS calls for an inclusive approach which widens the definition of vulnerability to include rurality, and which recognises that consumers can be vulnerable at different times in their lives.

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  7. Scottish Parliament debate
    Debbie Horne
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Since the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) began, CAS has repeatedly raised concerns about fundamental elements of the design and delivery of the UC system.

    Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) data, including Citizen Alerts (cases from local CAB), have shown the key problem elements of UC to be; the five week wait for first payment, the digital by default system, direct deductions from payments and increasing rent arrears caused by the cycle of payment in arrears.

  8. Alastair Wilcox
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    The energy regulator, Ofgem, publishes data on the consumption of gas and electricity by typical domestic consumers in GB. These Typical Domestic Consumption Values become industry standards and are used in a variety of different ways by energy suppliers, Price Comparison Websites, and the media. They have also become the benchmark annual consumption value used by Ofgem when it sets the prepayment and default tariff price caps.

    The Typical Domestic Consumption Values are based on the total domestic consumption of gas and electricity in GB over a 2-year period and are subject to biennial review.

    Having last been reviewed in 2017, Ofgem published its latest review of the Typical Domestic Consumption Values in an open letter to the energy industry and its stakeholders on 18 October 2019. In our response to this consultation, CAS observes that:

    • The value of the Typical Domestic Consumption Values to both consumers and suppliers is eroded by the use of GB averages. These hide very significant variations in typical annual domestic gas and electricity consumption between the different regions of GB. The Typical Domestic Consumption Values could therefore be made more relevant were they to be reported as a series of averages by electricity distribution network operator region. This would be consistent with how gas and electricity tariffs are priced in GB.
    • For properties with wet electric heating systems and/or supplied via multiple electricity meter points, the aggregation of all multi-rate electricity meter types results in a series of Typical Domestic Consumption Values that significantly misrepresents consumers’ total annual consumption and their peak:off-peak consumption split. With the possibility that the revised Typical Domestic Consumption Values will be integrated into the prepayment and default tariff price caps at a later date, there is a need for a discreet set of Typical Domestic Consumption Values and peak:off-peak consumption splits to be produced for a small number of related multi-rate electricity meter sub-profiles.
    • In addition to providing a more balanced and more locally representative price cap, these changes would also allow suppliers to provide consumers with better quality information on how their energy use compares with similar consumers, and better quality, more relevant advice on energy efficiency.
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  9. Period 1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019
    Claire Williams
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Over the last project year we supported 2,347 individuals, and gave advice over 12,300 times, achieving a client financial gain of over £3.3 million. The full report, which includes more detailed statistics, an overview of activities and case studies, can downloaded below. 

  10. Alastair Wilcox
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    In June 2018 the energy regulator, Ofgem, consulted on proposals to introduce a series of new Guaranteed Standards of Performance on all domestic gas and electricity suppliers in GB. These were to place a service level requirement on suppliers to provide consumers with an automatic and pre-defined level of compensation when problems with switching supplier occur. Following feedback from the energy industry and its stakeholders, the first 3 of these new Guaranteed Standards of Performance for Switching were introduced on 1 May 2019.

    Following further work in this area, in September 2019 Ofgem consulted on the introduction of a second phase of the Guaranteed Standards of Performance for Switching. These would provide an automatic and pre-defined level of compensation to consumers where a change of supplier takes longer than 21 calendar days to complete; where a Final Bill is not issued by the losing supplier within 6 weeks of a switch; and where a consumer is erroneously transferred to a new supplier.

    CAS supports Ofgem’s objectives in its proposals to introduce additional Guaranteed Standards of Performance for Switching. However, in our response to this consultation we detail concerns with some of the proposals as they currently stand.

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  11. Andrew Scobie
    Publication date:
    October 2019

    Andrew Scobie of Perth CAB has carried out a qualitative study to explore how third parties, specifically creditors and health professionals, are responding to the needs and circumstances of indebted citizens with mental health issues.

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  12. A snapshot of citizens advice bureaux clients
    Publication date:
    October 2019

    Our 7th edition in the 'Who Are You?' series describes those coming to citizens advice bureaux in Scotland for advice during November 2018.  

  13. Citizens Advice Scotland
    Publication date:
    October 2019

    Prices changes during the next regulatory period 2021 – 2027 may have a bearing on paying customers, particularly those on low income. CAS recently conducted research using Fraser of Allander Institute to understand how potential price change scenarios may affect aspects of affordability. Research sought to identify what proportion of Scottish households would be likely to spend more than 3% of income on water and sewerage under four charge scenarios between 2021/22 and 2027/28 (2%, 2.5%, 3% and 3.5%).

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  14. Jemiel Benison and Mike Holmyard
    Publication date:
    October 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the Insolvency Service's call for evidence on Insolvency Practitioner regulation.

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  15. Mike Holmyard
    Publication date:
    October 2019

    CAS welcomes the FCA's commitment to vulnerable consumers and the guidance they have published to help firms understand their obligations. 

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  16. Alastair Wilcox
    Publication date:
    September 2019

    The Capacity Market arose from the UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform in 2014 and is designed to provide assurance that electricity supply can continue to meet demand where, for example, demand peaks coincide with periods of reduced renewable electricity generation.

    After being selected on price through a reverse auction process, Capacity Market participants undertake to reduce stress on the electricity system, either by bringing additional generating plant online or by deploying technologies that reduce electricity demand.

    To date, the Capacity Market auctions have favoured the provision of additional generating capacity, but this has often been reliant on relatively carbon-intensive forms of electricity generation which run counter to the Government’s ambitions on climate change. In July 2019, BEIS therefore consulted the energy industry and its stakeholders on how it might create new markets for energy efficiency in the electricity system such that it could become a viable alternative to the provision of additional generating capacity or electricity network reinforcement as a means of meeting peak demand.

    In our response to this consultation, CAS observes that:

    • The Capacity Market may yet prove not be an appropriate route by which to encourage investment in energy efficiency in the electricity market. However, the results of the Electricity Demand Reduction pilot do not definitively show that that energy efficiency is unable to compete in a Capacity Market, and more evidence is therefore needed before firm conclusions can be made.
    • The design of Capacity Market should be revised to allow the whole system costs and benefits of a given intervention to be considered when assessing the value of competing bids. This would help to address the competitive disadvantage that electricity demand reduction technologies such as demand side response, flexibility services and energy efficiency face in the Capacity Market, where the carbon intensity of a given intervention is currently not considered.
    • Reform of the Capacity Market should seek to take a whole system view of the whole life costs of a given intervention, where competing technologies such as energy efficiency and storage or flexibility services are also seen as complementary to one another.
    • The Energy Efficient Scotland program and the development of Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies presents a sizeable opportunity to leverage Capacity Market funding for energy efficiency as a form of electricity demand reduction.
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  17. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    September 2019

    This is CAS’s response to the Call for Evidence on the Annual Energy Statement. We believe that while Scotland is likely to miss its target of achieving 11% of heat demand coming from renewables by 2020, there are actions the Scottish Government can take to ensure that it remains on course for achieving net zero by 2045, including;

    ›     Boosting public buy-in by stepping up practical and financial support for consumers

    ›     Driving technological innovation

    ›     Reducing the cost of renewables 

    These measures will help to address what CAS believes are the key risks and threats to achieving the 2045 target:

    ›     the initial cost of moving to renewable heat sources

    ›     the lack of public awareness and buy-in to the scale of the change needed

    ›     the quality of installations and access to redress when things go wrong

    ›     the lack of advice and guidance on how to properly use low carbon heating systems to best effect

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  18. CAS Research Team
    Publication date:
    September 2019

    Statistical briefing on advice given; client demographics based on an annual survey of CAB clients undertake for 4 weeks in November 2018 including comparison to SIMD data.

  19. CAS Research Team
    Publication date:
    September 2019

    Briefing on paid staff and volunteers; types of services provided to compliment the generalist service; client gains; how clients contacted CAB and the work undertaken by CAB in addition to giving advice.

  20. Michael O'Brien
    Publication date:
    September 2019

    CAS welcomes Ofgem’s proposals to improve outcomes for consumers who experience self-disconnection and self-rationing. We have identified a number of priorities:

    • The standardisation of friendly credit dates and hours, where technically feasible
    • Improvements to emergency credit provision, which maintains flexibility, but allows for the maintenance of supply in a reasonable worst case scenario
    • The removal of barriers to discretionary credit, which maintains protection from excessive debt, but enhances consumer choice
    • Improvements in how suppliers communicate with their prepayment customers, for e.g. as regards the seasonal accrual of standing charges
    • The formalisation of Ofgem’s Ability to Pay principles in the licence code
    • Utilisation of the full suite of smart functionality, for e.g. suppliers switching meters to credit mode to maintain supply
    • Viable alternatives to prepayment, for e.g. clarification on the future of Third Party Deductions for energy (Fuel Direct)
    • The extension of fuel voucher schemes (fuel credits)
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