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.)

“Time to rethink these dysfunctional benefit sanctions”

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“The current sanctions regime embodies and reinforces that system-wide dysfunctionality. If we want a social security – as opposed to a social insecurity – system, one that supports rather than punishes, that is built on trust not fear, any review must look beyond sanctions alone.”

An interesting article from The Guardian’s Patrick Butler.

(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

Join us in demanding a safe and settled future for millions of renters.

In the last year more than 80,000 people came to us suffering a problem with a privately rented home. That’s 230 people every day, hit by issues from illegal eviction to harassment to lost deposits and struggles to secure the most basic repairs.

Zara’s story

Zara came to us for help after asking her landlord for repairs to no avail. She was worried that severe mould in her bathroom and in the bedrooms of her four children could be damaging their health. The window frames had rotted, damaging their belongings. Zara couldn’t even cook for the kids because the oven had no door. We helped Zara submit a complaint to the local Environmental Health Officer. They inspected the property and asked the landlord to make improvements. The landlord responded by evicting Zara and her four children. As the law stands, there was nothing they could do.

Private rented issues

The private rental sector remains a market in which consumers are woefully under-protected. We want this to change. We don’t see why renters should expect anything less than the protections consumers take for granted elsewhere – repairs that get done, systems to protect them from cowboys, refunds when things go badly wrong.

Join us in demanding a safe and settled future for millions of renters.

We are campaigning for better protections for private renters. We believe that:

  1. No renter should be evicted simply for complaining about bad conditions.
    We want to see an end to retaliatory evictions.
  2. No renter should be at the mercy of rogue landlords who consistently break the rules, taking deposits unlawfully, harassing tenants or renting substandard homes.
    We want to see all local authorities in England set up a register of landlords that tackles the specific problems in their area.
  3. No renter should ever be left out of pocket after renting a home which proves to be dangerous or uninhabitable.
    We want tenants to be entitled to rent refunds where the property they’re living in is dangerous or not fit to live in.
  4. No renter should ever have to pay excessive and inexplicable fees for the basic services a letting agent provides.
    We want to see an end to extortionate fees levied on renters by letting agents.
  5. No renter should ever lose their home at a moment’s notice.
    We want all tenants to get reasonable notice before having to move out, even when caught up in a landlord’s eviction.

Take action

In 2015 we will be campaigning for a fairer deal for private renters – and we want your help.

Tell us your views

Do you rent your home? Please tell us about your experience in our short survey

Tell us your story of unacceptable treatment in private rented housing. Email your experiences to campaigns@citizensadvice.org.uk

Share our tweets to help raise awareness

People are now better protected when buying a toaster than when renting a flat http://bit.ly/1GUU2mN

Join our campaign for #rentersrights

Taxi drivers are more tightly governed than landlords who have access to our homes http://bit.ly/1GUU2mN

Join our #rentersrights campaign

Latest news

Are people better protected when buying a toaster than when renting a flat? Read our blog to find out more.

(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.)

#Campaign Success: Access to Justice

Legal Aid

Legal aid exists so that all of us can access legal expertise when we need it most. However, recent cuts to legal aid mean more and more people cannot find the help they need.

In 2012 the Government cut legal aid funding significantly under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). Legal aid has been under further attack with the Ministry of Justice proposing additional cuts and restrictions in their consultations on transforming legal aid and judicial review.

We wanted to ensure that:

  1. Ordinary people could effectively challenge unjust decisions taken by Government agencies which impact directly on their lives.
  2. Red tape did not stop people who are entitled to legal aid from getting it.
  3. Consumers of legal services could expect a quality service that meets their individual needs.

Without legal aid, we were concerned that thousands of people would not get access to justice.

What did we do?

We campaigned for changes to the Government’s proposals and achieved key concessions on a number of key areas. These included:

  • Making key exceptions to the residence test for access to legal aid for a number of vulnerable groups including children under 12 months and victims of trafficking.
  • Ensuring price was not the determining factor in awarding contracts to deliver legal aid.
  • The scrapping of a proposed cap on the number of legal aid funded advice providers.

Citizens Advice then responded to the Government’s consultation on their plans to restrict access to judicial review. Judicial review, a technical but fundamental part of our legal system, allows a judge to review on behalf of an individual citizen how a public body came to a policy decision. It is the last tool with which citizens can hold public bodies to account and challenge the process by which decisions are made.

What was the result?

In February, the Government published their respone to the consultation on judicial review. While the Government did offer a concession on ‘standing’ i.e who can bring a judicial review, they plan to proceed with the majority of their reforms. You can read our thoughts in Gillian Guy’s blog on the risks of the reforms.

(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.)

#Advice4Future: Advice for the Future

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Free advice makes society better. It’s really important that people like Citizens Advice are able to continue to offer free advice, through a range of channels, so it’s available to everyone who needs it.

We’re going through a big period of change in the UK. From welfare reform to the payday lending market, the cost of housing to rising energy bills, life is getting increasingly complicated.

This means it’s even more important that people can access relevant, impartial advice, can get help to make complex decisions and have the confidence and opportunity to act on the issues that concern them.

Advice must be available in different ways to suit different needs.

We believe that advice helps empower people to make decisions and solve problems, and is therefore a critical ingredient to any healthy democracy. Everyone should be able to access the advice they need at the right time, and in the right way for them.

We need…

A strategy for the provision of free advice to help everyone find a way forward:

  • Government recognises people’s need for advice following major changes to policy or service delivery;
  • Local government works with advice services to understand local needs and develop innovative solutions to meet them;
  • Local and national government invest in early intervention and better public services to avoid crisis further downstream.

To harness the power of new technology to reach more and more people, while protecting front line, face to face support for those who need it:

  • Putting clients at the heart of developing telephone and digital services to ensure service design and content truly meet people’s needs.
  • Integrating digital advice with face to face and telephone services to make it easier for everyone to get advice.

To mobilise the community

  • There is great resource within communities to help and support each other, with local networks and mutual support forums, and through empowering clients to give advice to others.
  • 22,000 volunteers power the work of the Citizens Advice service. Their generosity changes lives and has a huge benefit on health, work and happiness.

If you would like to have your say and support Citizens Advice in our mission to help, sign the pledge!

(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.)

The Rise of Foodbanks in the UK

Insight into the increase in the demand of food banks in the UK.

Another from Patrick Butler’s blog, this post reveals the greatly increased use of food banks, as described by the food banks themselves. 

For more information on food banks in your area, get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

(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.)