Research and Campaigning is a really important part of Barrow Citizens Advice’s work. One of the aims of the Citizens Advice service is 'to improve the policies and practices that affect people's lives' and this is what is known as research and campaigns.
All of us are affected by rules (policies) and ways of working (practices) that are underpinned by laws that govern our lives. These shape society and the services and benefits that we all rely on. A just society therefore requires laws, policies and practises that are fair to all.
Barrow Citizens Advice is committed to helping build a just society and does this through our Research and Campaigns work.
The stories our clients tell us provide a unique insight into challenges faced by our local residents and those we help from across the UK. We gather evidence about the policies and practises that need to be changed to ensure they are fair to all members of our community.
Some policies are applied nationally, such as those governing immigration. Some are national but administered according to local policies and practices. These include housing benefit, community care, housing, health and education. Others are determined locally, such as local authority collection of council tax arrears or school uniform grants.
Helping clients on a case-by-case basis is valuable to those individuals but by tackling the root cause of the problem we can bring about real improvements for everyone, even people who never access the service. We use the experiences of our clients to persuade policy makers to make improvements to policies or services which cause problems for people.
Our current Research and Campaign priorities include campaigning to improve medical assessments for health and disability related benefits and for improvements to the appeals process; working with Barrow Borough Council to adopt the Good Practice Protocol on Council Tax Arrears and to improve the application process for Council Tax benefit; and as part of a wider national campaign to Keep the Lifeline (£20 per week uplift for Universal Credit).
If you would like to know more or are interested in helping us with this work, see our volunteer opportunity.