Sedgemoor CAB provides advice to several thousand people every year. This gives us a good insight into what is bothering the people in our area.
The job of the Social Policy team is to identify trends – or sometimes to spot extreme cases: then we gather more evidence – perhaps watching for similar cases. Then to campaign for change.
Last year we worked on Payday Loans and that was something of a success. Many of the lenders have now pulled out of the market and the Financial Conduct Authority is now enforcing new rules effectively on the rest. Maybe not a perfect outcome, but progress.
Earlier this year we worked on the problem of Digital Inclusion – the fact that increasingly everyone is expected to do business online. Job applications and Benefit applications are central examples, but there are many more. The problem is that not everyone has access to a suitable computer; and even if we have access to the equipment, we may not have the skills to do it. We think that it is quite right to encourage people to do business online, but organisations need to plan for a percentage of people who can’t.
Now we are working on Scams Awareness Month. (See #scamaware on Twitter or http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/news/whats_new_may14_spot_scams__stop_scams.htm). Too many people are seeking advice about what to do when they have been scammed.”