Effective Research and Campaigns work benefits people by improving policies and practices. It thereby benefits people who have not contacted Citizens Advice directly as well as addressing problems experienced by people who have contacted us directly. There is an overlap with Equality and Diversity issues as a great deal of Research & Campaigns work is about improving policies and practices which disproportionately affect people who are in disadvantaged circumstances.
We have done a lot of work to support campaigns for changes to Universal Credit, e.g. to ask for compensation for the loss of the Severe Disability Premium, because Universal Credit, unlike the legacy benefit system, does not include a Severe Disability Premium. The equalities issue in this case is that there is a disproportionate impact on people with severe disabilities. Other changes to Universal Credit, where we have supported campaigns, include the introduction from April 2018 of the two-week run-on for housing benefit when a new Universal Credit claim starts, and from April 2019 the increases in the Universal Credit work allowances.
Over the next three years and beyond, we anticipate that the implementation of the changes to social welfare law such as the Managed Migration of people from Legacy Benefits to Universal Credit will directly and adversely impact on our clients. We plan to research evidence to monitor what is happening as people are migrated to Universal Credit.
Another major area of concern is housing. The recent government announcement of a consultation on abolishing Section 21 (No fault evictions), a significant advice issue, is a further example of how evidence based Research & Campaigns work can achieve results. Effective Research & Campaigns work also provides opportunities for constructive dialogue with stakeholders such as the local authority. This constructive dialogue demonstrates to stakeholders that we are an expert agency rooted in the community. We try to influence decisions relating to the issues that affect our clients such as Universal Credit and issues that affect our funding such as for debt advice
We aim to influence decision makers by providing objective, qualitative and quantitative evidence about the impact of changes and proposed changes. We also want to encourage our clients and partner agencies to contribute to our Research & Campaigns work by providing them with easy processes and facilities for making contributions, such as surveys, the Welfare Reform Advice Forum and online facilities.
The Citizens Advice website has details of the past campaigns and ongoing policy research co-ordinated by our national office. You can read about our local research and campaigns activity in the our campaigns section of this website.