With less than three weeks to polling day, Citizens Advice Watford hosted a meeting on Monday 17th June with Watford’s election candidates Dean Russell (Conservative), Ian Stotesbury (Liberal Democrat), and Matt Turmaine (Labour), to brief them on the organisation’s priority actions for the new government.

Steph Sykes, Campaigns Manager, explains:

“Through our frontline advice we have a unique, real-time insight into the problems faced by households. Our data tells us that close to 8,000 people in Watford are struggling on negative budgets, falling into debt just covering essential bills. Poverty is deepening and housing insecurity in particular is now a reality for too many families in the town.”

Citizens Advice has identified eight priority actions for the new government which would immediately pull 1.1 million people across the country out of a negative budget.

The actions include uprating benefits using the ONS Household Cost Indices to better reflect the true cost of living, continuing to increase the minimum wage to lift people out of negative budgets, reforming Local Housing Allowance to better people with high rental costs and ending section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

In addition, the organisation wants to see the reforming of disability benefits to improve access, scrapping the 5 week wait for Universal Credit and the introduction of comprehensive social tariffs across all essential services, along with improved energy support for those in fuel poverty.

Emma Burgham, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Watford, said:

“At Citizens Advice Watford we’re driven by our ambition to make things better for people. I’m grateful to Matt, Ian and Dean for giving us their time to look at our Watford data and the actions that our research shows will help move households out of the red and into the black.

The new government will have tough decisions to make but the current situation is not sustainable. We want to see the tide turned on living standards.”


    1. Citizens Advice has developed The National Red Index combining detailed budgeting data for 300,000 clients with ONS national survey data. The Index provides an analysis of the scale and impact of negative budgets.
    2. The National Red Index reveals that there are almost 5 million people across the country living on a negative budget, and a further 2.35 million living on empty – only escaping a negative budget by cutting back essential spending to unsafe levels.
    3. Through its modelling capability Citizens Advice has identified a package of measures that will immediately lift 1.1 million people out of negative budgets.