The Policy Studies Institute have released new research which examines the relationship between pay, employment and poverty. Here is a link.
A new report, published by the Work Foundation and written by researchers working for Policy Studies Institute and Coventry University, examines the relationship between employment, pay and poverty. It is one of a number of evidence reviews commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) to support its development of an anti-poverty strategy for the UK.
Employment is fundamental to the causes and solutions to poverty, and policy in the UK and elsewhere has focused on promoting employment as the key to tackling poverty. However, this approach now faces a number of challenges, including the increasing prevalence of ‘in-work poverty’, the current climate of fiscal constraint, and low earnings-growth as Britain emerges from recession. This review takes stock of what has been learnt about the relationship between employment, pay and poverty over the past 20 years, and examines the impact of employment-related interventions on poverty reduction.
The Consumer Council for Water has published results of their 2013/14 Water Matters tracking research into customers’ views on their water services.
Each year we ask customers for their views about the services they receive from their local water companies, and the value for money of those services. This year overall, more than 87% of customers say they are satisfied with the services but less than three quarters ( 69%-71%) consider the services are value for money.
Read more here.
BT has commissioned independent research to try to establish the social
value of digital inclusion activities in the UK. Find it here.
The value of being online to a new user is £1,064 per annum. This comes from having more confidence, making financial savings online, new job seeking skills and a reduction in social isolation. Other figures for more experienced users are also given.
The Keep me Posted campaign have carried out research with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) into the additional costs of being offline, which shows that people who are not online pay £440 more per year. Read more here.
• Households who do not use the internet pay an average of £440 more a year for their goods and services, equivalent to 4.4 per cent of their average household income
• This equates to 5.4 per cent of the average household income for older people aged 65 plus and the most vulnerable people in society
• Households that cannot take advantage of lower energy and telecoms tariffs for switching to online-only services miss out on a potential annual saving of £139
• 7 million people in the UK have never used the internet, with the vast majority (72 per cent) being the poorest 10 per cent in society
• Almost half (48 per cent) of those 65 years of age and over have never used the internet
Leading Digital Skills charity Citizens Online has called for a radical change to the way the 6.8m offline adults in the UK are given skills training and support. Read more here.
In a white paper jointly published with channel shift experts, Trapeze Transformation, they say that current initiatives are unlikely to substantially reduce the Digital Divide and that a new “Systemic” approach is needed.
While the UK as a whole has become one of the most digitally enabled nations in the world, with more than 80 per cent of households having broadband and averaging three internet enabled devices, there remains a persistent minority who have never been online and a larger group who only use the Internet in a limited way.
The research suggests that statutory bodies in local communities, including the local council, Job Centre Plus and Housing Associations, will only succeed in tacking digital exclusion if they collaborate with voluntary sector organisations to build an evidenced based “digital ecosystem”.
The FCA said 45,000 customers of the UK’s biggest payday lender would be compensated after it found that letters threatening legal action from non-existent law firms had been sent to customers, in an attempt to boost collections by increasing the pressure on people in debt. In some cases customers had been charged for the letters.
The practice ended four years ago before the FCA had responsibility for payday lenders and credit, so it does not have powers to fine Wonga. Which? welcomed the tougher line being taken by FCA on irresponsible lending. The FCA stated that it “expects firms to pay particular attention to fair treatment of those who have difficulty in meeting their loan repayments”.
A study by the Poverty and Social Exclusion project in the UK finds that the number of British households falling below minimum living standards has more than doubled in the past 30 years, despite the size of the economy increasing twofold.
According to the study, 33% of households endure below-par living standards – defined as going without three or more “basic necessities of life”, such as being able to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their children, and to heat and insure their homes. In the early 1980s, the comparable figure was 14%.
Other key figures reveal that
- almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions
- 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities
- one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter and
- four million children and adults aren’t properly fed by today’s standards
- Far more households are in arrears on their household bills in 2012 (21 per cent) than in 1999 (14 per cent). The most common bills in arrears now are utility bills, council tax and mortgage/rent.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have announced that are lifting their restriction on their basic bank account holders using ATMS provided by other banks. This means all customers of RBS, Natwest, Lloyds, and TSB should be able to use the whole network by the end of this year. This reverses a controversial decision to which restricted access to ATMs for basic bank account holders.
Ofgem has analysed differences in price between different payment methods used by consumers following an information request to suppliers in February 2014. It has found that the gap between prepayment and direct debit has narrowed since 2009. Read more here.
Ofgem rules allow suppliers to charge different prices for different payment methods, but only if the amount reflects the cost of providing those accounts. Some larger suppliers do spread some of the costs of prepayment customers among the whole of their customer base. This is consistent with regulations and guidance, which allow for differences. These result in reduced price differences for vulnerable customers, who often do not have the option of alternative payment methods. Suppliers can also charge the same price regardless of payment method, so they can spread the costs they incur across all customers. However, the majority of consumers pay by direct debit (including half of all fuel-poor households) so any change would mean these consumers would pay more.
Customers who use prepayment meters are now charged around £80 a year more on average compared with direct debit customers for dual fuel. This is a significant fall as the difference was almost £140 in 2009. Ofgem is satisfied that across the market the price on different payment methods reflects the varying costs suppliers face in providing them. The price difference for quarterly payment compared to direct debit has remained at around £80 since 2009.
Following an investigation E.ON has agreed to pay £12m to vulnerable customers, after Ofgem found it had broken energy sales rules. E.ON has also committed to compensating any customer that it missold to, including automatic payments to some vulnerable customers.
Read more from Ofgem here.
The agreed redress package reflects the harm caused by E.ON’s extensive poor sales practices carried out between June 2010 and December 2013.
As part of this package E.ON has agreed to:
•Pay around £35 to 333,000 of their customers who are normally recipients of the Warm Home Discount. This redress package will benefit pensioners, disabled and low income families
•Additionally, make automatic payments to some vulnerable customers who may have been affected by E.ON’s poor sales practices
•Set up a dedicated hotline 0800 0568 497 and compensate all consumers that it missold to
•Write to around 465,000 customers it has identified through its redress work, informing them of how to get in touch to find out whether they were missold to.