Policy and research

Two men and two women stood outside number 10 downing Street holding posters which say, hashtag look again, at UK poverty.
Find out how we’re working behind the scenes to see an end to UK poverty. 

Our mission

Right now, debt and poverty are forcing millions of people into impossible situations. Families are struggling to put food on the table and growing numbers cannot afford to turn on the heating. More and more people are living under the all-consuming pressure of financial hardship. That’s why we’re working hard to shape and influence policy, using out expertise to take steps towards an end to UK poverty.

We’ve been advocating for and supporting people experiencing debt and poverty since 1996 and we’ve seen change happen, but there’s so much still to achieve. We don’t plan to stop now.

What we do

We want to see an end to UK poverty. Our Policy and Research team pull together evidence and research, undertake consultations and publish reports to help decision-makers develop and shape policy. We also campaign and petition, attend events and roundtables, and advocate for people in debt and on low incomes.

Our current focuses

We concentrate our efforts and campaigns on specific areas to achieve maximum impact.

We want the Government to ensure that no one is left struggling as the cost of living increases.

We want the UK to be a place where debt collection does not push people further into hardship. We work to present evidence and shape policies that protect people living in vulnerable circumstances.

We’re working to see social security provided at adequate levels, where caps and sanctions don’t push people into destitution and for processes to work for all.

We believe having a warm, lit home is a basic human right. Our policy work feeds into the design of financial support schemes and the prevention of disconnection from utilities. 

Our work in financial services aims to identify where harm is being caused, where regulation is needed to ensure good outcomes for all. 

As the landscape of debt solutions evolve and change, we want to make sure insolvency remains the fresh start it was designed to be. 

Our successes

We’ve celebrated a number of big policy wins over the years; seeing structural changes to legislation have a huge impact on the quality of life of those living on a low income. We will continue to pursue change at the highest level to end UK poverty. 

Debt Relief Orders (DROs) were introduced in 2009 as a form of insolvency for people on low incomes who could not afford to go through bankruptcy. However, the eligibility criteria was not fit for purpose, and was preventing many low income people from accessing this very needed debt solution. In 2014, reforms to DROs were brought in which were a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough. 

Throughout 2020 and 2021, CAP, alongside other debt advice organisations, fought for this issue to be addressed by the Government. In February 2021, we published a report, Simplify the Solution, that provided research into how DROs were preventing people accessing debt relief.

In late 2021, we were thrilled to see the eligibility criteria for DROs widened! Since the eligibility criteria changed, tens of thousands of people have now been able to access a Debt Relief Order who otherwise wouldn’t have been eligible.

A prepayment meter is a type of domestic energy meter that lets people pay for energy before they use it. Millions of households use prepayment meters, and typically these households are more likely to be living on a low income. Up until 2023, the cost of energy for those with a prepayment was higher than those who paid for their energy on a credit meter.

For many years CAP campaigned to see this change, in 2015 we released a report called The poor pay more. After many years of advocating, presenting evidence and calling for change, we were happy to see the Government announced it would bring prepayment meter costs in line with direct debit in 2023.

In certain circumstances, the Department for Work and Pensions can deduct money from a claimant’s benefit payments and pay it to a creditor or supplier to clear a debt. When Universal Credit was introduced the maximum amount that could be deducted was set at 40%, leaving people struggling to make ends meet and pushing people deeper into poverty.

We proved the huge impact this was having on low income households with our report Powerless People. We found almost half (49%) of CAP clients had owed money to the DWP, HMRC or their local authority and those clients were more likely to be on a low income and vulnerable.

We relentlessly called on the Government to make changes. In 2021, the Government took notice of our evidence and reduced the debt deduction rate to 25%. Reducing the maximum amount that could be deducted from 40% to 25% has had a massive impact on those living on low incomes and in debt.

Our latest research

We produce regular publications based on our research to demonstrate the difficult and often hidden effects of living in poverty and debt.

Taking on UK poverty: Client report 2023 — addressing the severe poverty problem the UK is facing

In 2022, the cost of living continued to rise, while household incomes fell behind. We saw higher demand for emergency food shops, fuel vouchers and help with essentials. In our latest client report, we found that over half of CAP clients’ budgets were unsustainable due to low income. 

Read the full report here

Lifelines to safety — why credit is too often the only lifeline for people in difficult times

Reliance on credit as a lifeline in the UK today contributes to the millions of people who are drowning in the storm of problem debt. Our latest report sets out our recommendations to shoring up incomes and support saving, increase access to non-credit lifelines and make credit safer.

Read the full report here

Further information

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