Cumbria Research and Campaigns Group

It is our aim to spark positive change within the communities of Cumbria. CAB Logo This blog is intended as an information resource providing the type of evidence we are looking for, changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and allow local people and policymakers have their say. Get In Touch If you wish to contact us, please get in touch with your local CAB. Please do not share any confidential personal information in the comments section, as it will be removed immediately. (Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Approaching retirement? Not sure what to do?

Following pension reforms on April 6, people approaching retirement have greater freedom over how they can use their pension pots. People can take a lump sum, take out an annuity or a mixture of both. Pension Wise is a new Government service designed to help people make sense of their pension options, and empower them to make the right choices for them.

Individual face to face Pension Wise guidance appointments are now available to book, for those aged 50 or over. The guidance will help you understand your options to access your (defined contribution) pension pots after age 55.

To book your guidance appointment locally call into any South Lakes CAB outlet or ring us on 015394 46464 or contact the centralised booking number on 01900 68981.

You can also find information on Pension Wise at www.pensionwise.gov.uk

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. We have various outlets across South Lakeland and can also give advice over the phone – telephone 015394 46464 for an appointment and help.

Rewarding, challenging and interesting….

… were the top 3 words used by people to describe their volunteering experiences. Whilst 2 in 3 volunteers said volunteering reduces stress and 1 in 2 said their physical and mental health had improved. If that’s not enough here’s 10 other reasons to consider volunteering:

1 Make a difference to people’s lives

2 Help your local community

3 Try something new

4 Use your experience in a productive way

5 Develop new talents and skills

6 Challenge yourself

7 Increase your confidence

8 Inspire others to help people

9 Keep active

10 Get out of the house

South Lakes Citizen Advice is currently seeking volunteers. So if you can spare one day a week and would like to help local people, why not volunteer?  We have a range of roles and offer free training. Travel expenses will be paid.

For further information please call 015394 46464 or email

support@southlakes.cabnet.org.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. We have various outlets across South Lakeland and can also give advice over the phone – telephone 015394 46464 for an appointment and help.

Charity walk across Morecambe Bay

South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau Organise Charity Walk Across Morecambe Bay

Join us on Saturday 5 September at 10.30am to walk the spectacular Morecambe Bay sands led by Queens Guide Cedric Robinson MBE. The walk is around 8 miles and takes approximately 3 hours starting at Arnside promenade.

The scenery is stunning, see the wildlife close by, it’s a fun but slightly weird experience walking across the mud flats! If you’ve never done it before – now is your chance.

This is a major fund-raising event to help your local South Lakes Citizens Advice.

Last year we helped 3,000 local residents with free, confidential and impartial advice.  There’s growing demand for our help and like other charities we struggle for funding. So please do come and walk with us. We think you will have a great experience and lots of fun while at the same time raising funds through sponsorship by family, friends and work colleagues.

Registration is just £5 and if you could get friends or colleagues to sponsor you that would be great.

We are limited to 200 people, so book your place early. Full details are available here.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from Citizens Advice Bureaux on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. We have various outlets across Cumbria and can also give advice over the phone – visit our national website to find your nearest bureau.

Car Travel Tips

 

As the holiday season is upon us, here’s a couple of travel tips that may help you get about more easily. From 8 June, the DVLA is abolishing the paper counterpart of the UK photocard licences. All endorsements, such a speeding offences, will be held electronically. If you commit an offence you will still have to pay any applicable fine and submit your licence to the court, but endorsements will no longer be recorded on the paper counterpart. You can view your record online, or request a copy by post (see http://www.gov.uk and type ‘View your driving licence information’ in the search box).

All of this means if you want to hire a vehicle, then you will no longer be able to show your paper counterpart or paper licence (pre- 1998). Instead you must obtain a unique access code (which expires after 72 hours) from the ‘Share your Licence’ online service and give this to the hire company along with the last 8 digits of your driving licence number. Alternatively you can call DVLA on 09061 393 837 and give permission for your driving record to be checked verbally by a nominated person/organization, but this may be difficult overseas or out of hours. A video explaining it all is available at http://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes

Closer to home, did you know that Cumbria County Council have a ‘Highways Hotline’? Phone them on 0845 609 6609 to report potholes, faulty traffic and street lights, anything to do with the condition of our roads. It’s helpful if you have the precise location and the 3 number digit on the nearest lamppost. You can also report online, go to http://www.cumbria.gov.uk click on ‘roads and travel’ then ‘report a problem/issue’.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, benefits, housing, employment, consumer problems and any other problems. We have various outlets across South Lakeland and can also give advice over the phone – telephone 015394 46464 for an appointment and help.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria. This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Possible Pension Scams

You might be aware that the pension reforms come into effect after the Easter Weekend.

Everyone who retires with a pension pot will be able to choose whether to take it as a lump sum, to place it into drawdown or to use the proceeds more gradually.

These changes mean people have more choices about what to do with their pensions, which is good, but also that fraudsters may take the opportunity to target pensioners with new scams.

Anyone thinking about retirement needs to be careful, and to take time to talk with friends, family or Pension Wise before committing to anything. They should also consider our advice on how to spot a scam.

Please post this reminder on Facebookforward it to your friends and family, and report anything suspicious to our consumer service on 03454 04 05 06, Action Fraud or your local CAB.

Don’t let scammers take advantage of vulnerable people!

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Settled and safe: a renter’s right

Citizens Advice has launched a new campaign calling for improvements in the private rental sector.

Last year, more than 80,000 people came to us experiencing a problem with a privately rented home.

That’s 230 people every day, hit by issues including illegal eviction, harassment, lost deposits and struggles to secure the most basic repairs.

Our experience tells us the problems are getting worse.  We are campaigning for better protections for private renters including:

  • an end to extortionate fees levied on renters by letting agents.
  • all local authorities in England to set up a register of landlords that tackles the specific problems in their area.
  • tenants to be entitled to rent refunds where the property they’re living in is dangerous or not fit to live in.

Do you rent your home? Please tell us about your experience in our online short survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LQM7TDL

Free, confidential advice and help is available from Cumbria Citizens Advice Bureaux on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. We have various outlets across the county and can also give advice over the phone.

If you don’t need us for advice, how about helping us by becoming a volunteer or making a donation? Not many people realize that we are a charity!

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Volunteer to help South Lakes Citizens Advice deliver its free telephone advice service

In the Spring of this year South Lakes Citizens Advice is expanding its telephone service for residents in the South Lakeland area.  This is an exciting development that will enable South Lakes Citizens Advice to help more local people with its free, confidential and impartial advice.

South Lakes Citizen Advice is currently seeking volunteers to help deliver this telephone service.  So if you can spare one day a week and would like to help local people, why not volunteer?  We offer free training that will enhance your skills, and help you to gain confidence and improve your employment opportunities.  Travel expenses will be paid.

For an application form please call Rachel on 015394 46464 or email support@southlakes.cabnet.org.uk.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. We have various outlets across South Lakeland and can also give advice over the phone – telephone 015394 46464 for an appointment and help.

New Pension Rules

The New State Pension comes into effect from April 2016. Gov.UK has been updated with information about the changes and now includes details about how people aged 55 and over can request a pension statement under the new rules.

The state pension statement service has been extended to include people aged 55 and over. Statements give individuals an estimate of how much they may get under the new State Pension based on their current National Insurance record.
About 5.5 million people are now able to request a pension statement under the new rules.

The statement offers an estimated amount, not a guaranteed amount, as it is based on an individual’s current NI record and doesn’t take into account future NI contribution years they may build.

Pension Wise is a free Government service offering guidance to people over 54.5 years and within 6 months of retiring about how they can make the most of the new pension freedoms.

To find out more, or to make an appointment with a Pension Wise adviser, get in touch with your local CAB.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Phone Scam in Cumbria

We have had reports of two instances in the past week of clients being cold-called by an ‘unavailable number’ indicating that they know the client is registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) not to receive nuisance calls.

The recipient is then told that the free TPS only lasts for one year, that the caller already has the recipient’s bank details and that they require to take a payment of £89 for the next year’s “subscription”.

Upon being told that no bank details had ever been given for TPS, the caller became more aggressive and threatened the recipient that if they did not pay up, they would be pursued through the courts.

There was nothing the recipient could have been sued for, however it was obviously a very frightening experience leaving them very anxious.

If you’ve experienced a similar scam call, then get in touch with your local bureau.  Your evidence could be helpful in preventing future scams by raising awareness in our community.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)

Benefits Update: Migrants Access to Benefits from 9 Feb 2015

Here’s an update from the DWP on their policy change with regards to the rights of migrants to claim benefits in the UK:

{{START

Restricting Migrants’ Access to Benefits

Towards the end of 2014, it was agreed to roll out GPoW (Genuine Prospects of Work) assessments to all remaining claims from unemployed EEA nations who have yet to have their right to reside reviewed.  This means that from 9 February 2015, existing JSA(IB) claims made before 1 January 2014, from an EEA national, will be given three months notice that they will be subject to a GPoW assessment.  The first assessments and interviews will take place from May 2015.

Claimants will be notified by letter that in three months time they will be subject to a GPoW  interview and assessment.

Support for Vulnerable Customers

DWP has considered impacts for potentially vulnerable claimants when implementing these changes.  DWP staff are given training on how to identify vulnerable people and how they can best support their needs.  DWP Decision Makers complete specialist training and are provided with all the necessary guidance to carry out this role. They can also draw on specialised support where needed.

 As with all areas of DWP business, it is not always possible to tell when someone is potentially vulnerable.  So, if there are any aspects of a person’s circumstances that they would like DWP to be aware of or if there are reasonable measures that staff could take to support them; the claimant should let DWP staff know at the point of contact.

 Further information is available on www.gov.uk

END}}

If you’re affected by this change in policy, get in touch with your local bureau (see top blog post on how to do this) and let them know you wish to give evidence on how it’s impacted you.

(Please note: Views and opinions expressed by third parties, as guest posts or links, are not the views and opinions held by Citizens Advice, or the Bureaux involved in producing Campaigning Cumbria.  This blog is intended as an information resource to show the type of evidence we are looking for, and the sort of changes to social policy and welfare that might impact those living in Cumbria, and to allow local people and policymakers have their say. It is not intended to provide advice, guidance or information.)