Our Research and Campaigns

Citizens Advice North Lancashire has two aims - firstly, to provide advice to help people find a way forward, and secondly, to research and campaign where policies or practices are unfairly impacting on people. Below you can find a summary of our research publications and media releases.

April 2024

Today we release our report and investigation into the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

This report was authored in collaboration with Citizens Advice North Lancashire, Citizens Advice Blackpool, Citizens Advice East Lancashire, Citizens Advice Preston, Citizens Advice Fylde and Citizens Advice Lancashire West.

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate is the amount of money that the government has said those who live in privately rented properties can claim as a maximum towards their housing costs under Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a discretionary and undefined amount of money that local authorities can choose to give to people living in their area.

The report includes a number of case studies that show the impact of LHA shortfalls.

We concluded that the freezing of LHA rates between 2020-2024 has had a significant impact on the financial, physical and mental health of many. As evidenced in this report, the impacts of managing a shortfall are wide ranging and may impede a person’s ability to improve their financial situation independently. The 2024 LHA rate rises are welcome, but where rates are rising, this is often by a small amount. We call on the Government to raise the LHA to a more appropriate level if people are to be given the ability to improve their health, well-being and financial independence. The DHP should also be properly funded to mitigate the worst of any remaining shortfall impacts.

Read the full report here.

March 2024

The 53 week rent year and why it matters.

After a client spoke to our adviser Jeni Meadows about a rent issue, we discovered an administrative problem with Universal Credit which we believe is deeply unfair.

This is a leap year which means that in 2024/5 there will be 53 Mondays. It is a quirk of our calendar system that every 5-6 years there is a year with 53 Mondays. For those who pay their rent weekly, that means they have to pay an extra week's rent that has accumulated - and it will not be covered by Universal Credit. 

Jeni spoke at a meeting of Lancaster City Council as to why we are calling for systemic change to ensure this doesn't happen again in future 53 week years. We are asking the Government to make changes to the Universal Credit system through a legislative amendment, and urge the Department for Work and Pensions to take action on this to make sure residents of social housing aren't left short during a cost of living crisis.

You can read the full report here and Jeni's speech to the council here.

November 2022

Today we release our report about the impact that the Household Support Fund (HSF) and our partnership with Lancaster City Council has had on residents in Lancaster District.

The Household Support Fund is provided by central government and gives emergency funding to people for household goods and services when money is very short. It has been invaluable for us as an advice agency and has allowed many people to access essential things such as ovens, fridges and supermarket vouchers.

We call on the Chancellor to extend the Household Support Fund beyond March 2024 and to uprate benefits by the rate of inflation. The Cost of Living Crisis is affecting residents deeply and HSF is a way for us to help those who are really struggling.

Read the full report here:

The Impact of the Household Support Fund in Lancaster District

July 2022

We have analysed the debt cases that we saw from January - December 2022 to see what kind of work we did. During that time we saw hundreds of client with thousands of issues and helped people to write off over half a million pounds in debt.

Our numbers show a high proportion of clients who are suffering from ill health and we know that becoming unwell can often pitch people into financial instability.

You can read more here: Our Debt Work in 2022

June 2022

Intern Oliver Fowler has written a report for us, showing a snapshot of a "Week in the Life of Citizens Advice North Lancashire." Between 15-19th May we created 616 case notes helping 367 different clients with many hundreds of issues. Oliver's report illustrates the issues that we see each and every week here.

A Week In the Life of Citizens Advice North Lancashire

March 2022

Due to the numbers of people asking for help with the cost of School Uniforms via our Hardship Scheme, we undertook research into the cost of school uniforms in secondary schools in Lancaster District. You can read the report here:

The Cost of Secondary School Uniform in Lancaster District

February 2022

Juliette Demas, author and UK correspondent for Liberation newspaper in France came to visit us in February 2022. You can read the article she wrote for Liberation here

December 2022

NBC News from the USA came to visit our offices for a week in both Lancaster and Morecambe to speak to people about the Cost of Living crisis.

You can read the article here

November 2022

We presented our November Cost of Living briefing at a Wellbeing Conference for staff and volunteers in November 2022 at The Platform in Morecambe. The numbers of people coming to see us asking for charitable assistance and help with utility bills has increased hugely.

Cost of Living Briefing November 2022

May 2022

Life on a Low income in Lancashire - a report from all the Citizens Advice offices in Lancashire who worked together in partnership to show how difficult life is for those on the lowest incomes living in Lancashire.

This report was sent to MPs and Councillors across the region and was quoted from by Sir Stephen Timms in the DWP Select Committee.

August 2021

We undertook local research to find out if Universal Credit is enough to live off in Lancaster District. The information we found (which was before the £20 cut to Universal Credit was implemented in October 2021) says that Universal Credit is not enough to live off, and afford the basics.

You can read our research here:

Research about living off Universal Credit in Lancaster District

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