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Better off Forum Newsletter

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Energy Tool from Citizens Advice

Compare Domestic Energy Suppliers Customer Service

HOW GOOD IS YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER? Citizens Advice launches new energy tool which ranks firms based on customer service

Price isn’t the only thing to think about when choosing an energy supplier. It might be worth choosing a supplier that gets the fewest complaints, or one that’s easy to contact – even if they’re a bit more expensive.

To help you make that choice, we’ve compared suppliers across 5 different categories and ranked them according to how good their customer service is.

We’ve given them an overall rating out of 5 – 1 being poor and 5 being excellent..We have measured Complaints, Ease of Contact, Bill clarity, Ease of switching and Switch guarantee to give an overall score.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We hope the tool will encourage suppliers to improve their level of customer service with customers now able to scrutinise their performance across a range of different service factors – from complaints to ease of switching “   Follow our link below

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/citizens-advice-consumer-work/supplier-performance/energy-supplier-performance/compare-domestic-energy-suppliers-customer-service

BT Basic

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BT Basic is a low-cost service for people on low incomes who may otherwise find it difficult to afford a home phone line.

  • BT Basic (line rental and calls) costs £5.10 a month including a call allowance of £1.50.  
  • BT Basic + Broadband: line rental and broadband cost £9.95 a month including a call allowance of £1.50.
  • Monthly price cap.  BT Basic customers can now make as many calls as they like to local and national numbers (starting with 01, 02 and 03), UK mobile numbers (starting with 07) or 08 numbers and pay a maximum of £10 a month. This means that customers will not pay any more than £15.10 a month for line rental and calls (subject to fair use and keeping within the eligible call types for the call allowance and price cap). The £10 price cap is automatically given to all BT Basic customers. 
  • Option of monthly billing to help with budgeting.

Eligibility

To get BT Basic, applicants must be getting one of these means-tested benefits:

  • Income Support 
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit) 
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income related) 
  • Universal Credit (and on zero earnings).

Different benefits with similar names exist, so please check carefully.

To apply for BT Basic, customers just need to fill out a one-page form.  BT checks directly with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to confirm eligibility.

For more details on BT Basic, to understand the call types included within the call allowance, the price cap or the application process, go to  bt.com/btbasicdeal where you can also download a booklet on the scheme.

Eligible customers can get a BT Basic application form by calling 0800 085 7478.


Do I need a TV Licence?

2019

Do I need a TV Licence?

Live TV on any channel and BBC iPlayer

You need to be covered by a TV Licence to

  • watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service
  • download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This applies to any provider you use and any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

Pay for your TV Licence

A standard TV Licence costs £154.50. Find out about ways to pay. Find out about free, reduced fee and business licences below.

Find out if you need a Licence video

Watch our YouTube video to find out when you need a TV Licence.

Need to update the details on your current TV Licence?

Answers to your questions

What is live TV and when do I need a licence for it?

What about BBC iPlayer?

Don’t have a TV? You could still need a TV Licence for other devices.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch TV away from home?

For your home, business or organisation

For you and your home.

For your business or organisation.

You need a TV Licence if anyone on your premises watches or records live TV programmes on any channel, or downloads or watches BBC programmes on iPlayer, on devices provided by your business.

This applies to employees at their desks, in a canteen or staff area, and customers in waiting areas, shop floors or anywhere else. Find out more about licences for businesses or organisations.

Moving to the UK?

We’ve put together some useful tips to help you get organised if you are thinking of moving to the UK.

Think you don’t need a TV Licence?

  • No TV and not using a computer, laptop, phone or other device to watch live TV on any channel or any BBC programmes on iPlayer?
  • Empty property or unoccupied address?
  • Covered by another licence?

Please tell us if you think you don’t need a TV Licence.

If you still have questions take a look at TV Licensing FAQs where you can find all the answers in one place.

Help to Claim – Universal Credit

Get help applying for Universal Credit

Our Help to Claim service can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from an application, through to your first payment.

Help to Claim is a dedicated service from Citizens Advice. It’s free, independent and confidential. Our trained advisers can help with things like how to gather evidence for your application or how to prepare for your work coach appointment.

Call us for free: 0800 144 8 444

You can get help at the following locations:

  • West Bromwich Jobcentre Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri 9am – 1pm and Wed 10am – 1pm
  • Oldbury Jobcentre Mon, Tues and Thurs 9am – 1pm and Weds 10am – 1pm
  • Smethwick Jobcentre (by appointment only) Tues, Thurs and Fri 9am – 1pm and Weds 10am – 1pm
  • Tipton Jobcentre Mon, Thurs and Fri 9am – 1pm and Weds 10am – 1pm
  • Halesowen Jobcentre Mon 9am – 1pm
  • Walsall Bayard House Mon 9am – 1pm
  • Bilston Jobcentre Mon 9am – 1pm
  • Perry Barr Jobcentre Mon and Tues 9am – 1pm and Weds 10am – 1pm
  • Selly Oak Jobcentre Mon and Tues 9am – 1pm
  • Handsworth Jobcentre Weds 10am – 1pm and Thurs 9am – 1pm
  • Broad Street Jobcentre Tues and Fri 9am – 1pm
  • Dudley Jobcentre Thurs 9.30am – 1pm

For online advice or to chat live to an adviser, please visit: citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim

We may also be able to see claimants at the Citizens Advice office in West Bromwich during the opening times. Help and support is based on when advisers are available. Just drop-in and speak to reception.

If you’re a local organisation working with people who need to help to apply for Universal Credit you can get in touch with the Help to Claim Supervisor – Rachael Walker (rachael.walker@citizensadvicesandwell.org.uk) to find out how you can signpost or refer people to our service. You can also use this email address to book appointments at our Cradley Heath Citizens Advice office.

Last updated: 5th July 2019

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.