Monthly Archives: February 2021

Press Release – 16.5 million people hit by letter delays in January, finds Citizens Advice

Almost one in three people across the UK experienced a delay in sending or receiving letters during January 2021, new research by Citizens Advice has found.

The charity has had people get in touch with concerns that missing mail has seen them unable to pay bills, apply for benefits, and receive vital support from the charity’s advice service.

The charity also found that 7% experienced serious negative consequences of struggling to receive post, like being unable to pay a bill, or missing a GP appointment or job interview. This doubled (14%) for those who were self-isolating or shielding.

Citizens Advice has also seen a 365% increase in the number of people looking for advice on Royal Mail delays on its website in January, compared to January 2020. Indeed, some of the most affected by postal deliveries have been from the South East (36%).

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ipswich, said:

“We know Royal Mail have faced new pressures during the pandemic, and postal workers have worked tirelessly to ensure we can all stay connected. But letter delivery is a vital public service, relied on by many for bills and other critical information.

“Ensuring that people are able to receive letters at least once a week will provide reassurance to millions. We also urge Royal Mail to provide more transparency to people about what they can expect.”

Citizens Advice, the consumer advocate for the postal sector, is urging Royal Mail to ensure that letters are delivered weekly as a minimum, that delivery returns to normal levels as soon as possible, and that people are given clear information regarding how long delays could last in their area.

Price cap rise will be ‘heavy blow’ to household finances already hit by Covid

From 1 April 2021, Ofgem will introduce a new increase in the energy price cap, which will see it increase by £96 for default tariff customers, and by £87 for pre-payment meter customers.

According to Ofgem, default tariffs and pre-payment meters are already some of the more expensive energy options, and research shows that pre-payment meter customers are more likely to be living in fuel poverty.

However, Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ipswich, adds that this rise not only comes during a “tough jobs market and essential bills rising”, but also the rise will come “at the same time as the £20 a week increase to the benefit is set to end”. The £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit is set to end on April 5.

To visualise the twinned effect of the price rise and the cut to the Universal Credit boost, the £20 uplift would cover nearly a whole week (six days) energy costs for a below average income household.

Indeed, in December, Citizens Advice research showed that 2.1 million households were behind on their energy bills, 600,000 more than in February 2020. That was with the reduced energy price cap and the £20 uplift. This could affect many of our clients, because since 1 March 2020, Citizens Advice has supported more than 350,000 people with Universal Credit.

As such, Nicky Wilshire argues that “now is not the time for the government to cut this vital lifeline”.