"Every day we hear from individuals about the specific challenges they face in their day-to-day lives, but when we collate the data on these, we find themes that highlight systemic problems, for example in relation to local housing issues. This data provides valuable evidence that we can use for policy campaigns locally, and to feed into nationwide campaigns organised by national Citizens Advice."
The twin aims of the Citizens Advice service are:
As a service we hold a lot of insight and data about the problems our clients in Oxford and their wider communities face. We use this insight and data to:
- help us research issues further
- highlight to decision-makers where their decisions may have unintended consequences
- campaign to get policymakers to change their policies and practices.
How is it done?
The evidence is compiled anonymously from real client stories locally and then collated nationally by Citizens Advice to identify recurring trends to build an evidence base that is then used to lobby for change. It is difficult for policy and decision-makers to ignore this evidence because it is based on real people and the problems they’re facing because of poor practice or unfair decisions.
We work with local and national Government, MPs, policymakers, regulators and service providers to outline the problems and what changes should be made.
What difference does it make?
Through effective campaigning we can improve policies and practices and influence changes in legislation based on real facts. This can make a real difference to people’s lives, changing things for the better, not only for those coming to use Citizens Advice services, but for everyone.
Previous campaigns have included:
- participating in a policy campaign run by national Citizens Advice investigating whether pressure is put on clients not to claim legacy benefits. We identified five of our clients who consented to take part in the survey
- making recommendations to the national Citizens Advice Research and Campaigns team to get long Covid recognised as a medical condition that qualifies for disability benefits.
Our current campaigns?
In line with the national campaigns (for details see here), Citizens Advice Oxford is running two campaigns currently:
- Action on Gambling Harm: a three-year programme that aims to help advisers feel more confident recognising gambling harm and giving support to the clients affected by it; destigmatise the topic of gambling harm. As part of this, we will be training our advisers to spot the signs of clients who may need specific support in this area.
- Cost of Living Crisis: we are looking at the evidence on how the current cost of living crisis, and in particular the energy crisis, is affecting the lives of residents in Oxford. As part of this campaign, we have written to local MPs, Anneliese Dodds and Layla Moran highlighting new data that shows the impact of higher energy bills, and requesting that they request the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to commit to uprating benefits in line with inflation.
How you can help make a difference?
By supporting our campaigns
Some of our campaigns need your support – this can include providing us with evidence or signing your name in support of a particular campaign. Sometimes it can include filling in a survey about your experiences. Whenever one of these opportunities to contribute arises, we will give you further details here.
Volunteer to join our Campaigns team. If you have experience or interest in any of the following, we would love to hear from you:
- media trained
- social and policy research students
Find out more at Research & Campaigns role.