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Sharing Knowledge – Giving Power


 

pexels-photo-273171                                                                                          Sometimes things are not all that they seem, and when people in powerful positions tell you something is true, people tend to believe them….

This was true for Lisa*, who came to see us last month.  Lisa works full time, although her partner works, he has a zero hours contract – which means it’s hard to plan and budget.  They have two young daughters.

Last year Lisa and her partner fell into council tax arrears, because for some weeks her partner had no work at all. The bill was passed to bailiffs and although it started at around £800 it rose to £1300 because of bailiffs fees and charges.

After borrowing money from family, Lisa was able to agree to pay the balance off over a year and had only one instalment left to pay of less than £80 .

Just before the final payment, out of the blue Lisa received a letter from the bailiffs saying she now owed nearly a thousand pounds and she had one day to pay.

Threats were made of forced entry and seizing of goods.

This was when Lisa came to see us.  She was distraught, terrified that the bailiffs would force entry into her home and take her and her children’s things.  Fortunately we can see debt clients very quickly, and on the same day  she met with Rachael, one of our debt specialists.

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Rachael Walker – Debt Specialist

Rachael could see something was wrong.

An old debt had been found and added to the existing one.

Rachael informed the bailiffs had no right to do what they were doing and in fact it was illegal.

The bailiffs disagreed, but finally after 3 hours, Rachael was able to stop them taking this unnecessary and unlawful action and Lisa was able reach a new agreement and continue to reduce her debt in a way that she has been managing for the past 12 months.

Lisa left feeling reassured and relieved and thankful of the time and help we were able to offer, but just imagine what could have happened to her and her family without the knowledge we gave her!

There are many more people like Lisa, who become vulnerable and don’t understand what they have been told. We continue to challenge the actions of bailiffs who deal with vulnerable people, who are mostly unaware of their rights.  For this family however, the future is clearer and brighter and that’s what we are here for!

*names have been changed to protect identity

 

Brexit – How does it affect you?


Last year the UK public voted to leave the EU.

The government has now triggered Article 50. This means that the process of leaving the EU has started.

Some laws will change in the future – but not immediately.

Everything will stay the same until new laws are made.

If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, your rights to live, work or get benefits won’t change unless the government passes new laws.

If you’re a UK citizen living in the EU or travelling to the EU, your rights won’t change yet either.

You don’t need to take any action now. Changes to the law will be announced before they happen, so you’ll have time to prepare if you’re affected.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against since the referendum, for example if you’ve been unfairly refused work or housing, or told your rights have changed, you can contact us on 03444111444 or call into one of our offices. – See opening times

People will seek help with their finances every 3 seconds in January


Citizens Advice is expecting more than 370,000 people to seek help on financial issues such as pensions, investments and debts in January after analysis by the charity reveals that people are more likely to research financial decisions now than at any other time of the year.

The analysis of demand for advice over the last year shows that January and February were the busiest months of the year for queries about finances, with someone viewing online advice pages every 3 seconds in January.

While January is often associated with squeezed budgets and debt worries, the research reveals that people also used the New Year to take stock of their money situation and plan their finances long-term.

The charity is expecting demand to reach its peak on 12 January – after people visited twice as many online advice pages about issues around money, insurance and pensions on the same day in 2016.

Issues people are more likely to investigate in January than the rest of the year ahead include:

  • Workplace, personal and state pensions

  • Ways to save money

  • Investments

  • Joint bank accounts

  • Vehicle insurance

As well as going online, people contacted Citizens Advice every 11 seconds with more in-depth questions around debt and money.

Citizens Advice services across the country are expecting to help as many as 2,400 people every working day in January with queries about their finances.

People are most likely to seek advice on personal pensions, bank accounts and credit referencing, while those with debts need help with council tax arrears, credit card debts and debt relief orders.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said:

“Although debt worries can be more acute in January people are also taking stock of their finances and thinking about the future.

“It doesn’t matter what your earn – whether you are on minimum wage or have a comfortable salary – everyone can benefit from reviewing their finances.

“Considering your overall financial situation can help you find a solution for urgent problems, and start planning your finances so that you are better prepared for tomorrow and more financially secure in the long term.

“If you’d like to understand more about how your circumstances affect your money options or are struggling with debt, Citizens Advice can give you the information and advice you need to find a way forward.”

With thousands of people seeking money advice every day, Citizens Advice is sharing eight simple steps you can take to review your finances and start planning for the future.

Get your finances in order

Do a simple budget

Write down your income and take away your essential bills such as gas and electric, food and transport. If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs. Use our online tool to set a more detailed budget.

Save money on essentials

You could save an average of £300 on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers. Use Citizens Advice’s energy comparison tool to see if you can save.

Diarise the dates of annual contracts that are up for renewal, like your mobile phone or car insurance, and use a comparison site to see if you can get a cheaper deal.

Check you’re claiming the right benefits

If you have a family or are married, check if you can apply for working tax credits or marriage tax allowance on gov.co.uk

If you live alone, you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax bill.

If you claim benefits, visit the Citizens Advice website to check if you are eligible for discounts on your water or energy bills.

Start saving

Start saving if you can – it doesn’t matter if it’s 50p or £5 a week, every penny will help improve your finances.

Saving is an important part of everyday finances, giving you a buffer for emergencies, helping you buy bigger items and giving you more financial security for the future.

Keep tabs on your overdraft

Sign up to free text alerts from your bank so you know when you’re close to going into your overdraft. Then make adjustments to your spending if you can.

Be choosey about your borrowing

If you need to borrow money, it’s important to know that there are different offers with credit cards and loans, from free balance transfers to paying no interest for the first few months.

Get your debts in order

If you can’t pay all your debts at once, it’s important to prioritise. Rent or mortgage and council tax are more important than credit card debts for example, as the consequences can be more serious if you don’t pay. Find out how to prioritise on the Citizens Advice website or contact your nearest service for help.

Invest in your future

Pensions are a great way to save for the future and are also good value, as your contributions are topped up your employer and the government.

If you’re eligible for  auto-enrolment, consider paying more than just the minimum.

Those who are self employed can still set up their own pension but make sure it’s with a regulated company.

If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension you can get free a Pension Wise appointment to learn more about taking your pension.

Autumn Statement


The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will deliver the Autumn Statement today. He is expected to announce a ban on letting agents and our response welcoming this move is covered by the BBC and FT online.
Data from Citizens Advice showing that letting agents charge £337 on average is also covered extensively across news outlets.
We will also be issuing a follow-up statement later on today.