15 November 2018
Survey - Tell us what matters to you and help us plan for future housing provision in Torbay! 

Views and aspirations of people in relation to housing in later life


Tell us what matters to you and help us plan for future housing provision in Torbay


We know that people will make different decisions about where and how they live as they get older. Some will want to stay living in the same home; others will look to move to more manageable homes; and some will feel that housing designated for older people best suits their needs.


If you are aged 50 and over, we would like to know about your plans…


If you live in Torbay (Torquay, Paignton, Brixham) and are starting to think about where you want to live as you get older, we’d really love to hear from you. We want to hear from people currently living in all types of accommodation. If you’ve already moved, we’d also really like to hear about your reasons for moving.

This is your chance to influence future housing for older people


You can complete the questionnaire online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TorbayHousingSurvey

Prize draw to win a £50 shopping voucher!

As a ‘thank you’ for participating in this survey you have the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw.




08 November 2018
Advice Column: Council Tax Arrears 

I am struggling to pay my Council Tax bill this year as my hours at work have been reduced. What help is available?


If you are having problems paying your council tax it’s important to keep in contact with your local authority and to let them know of any change of circumstances and to discuss potential repayment options. You need to deal with some debts more urgently than others because the consequences of not paying them can be more serious than for other debts. These are known as priority debts and include council tax.


Local authorities in England are responsible for running their own local schemes for help with council tax. These are called Council Tax Reduction schemes (also known as Council Tax Support) and is a reduction you may be able to get on your council tax if you're on a low income


Everyone of working age has to pay something towards their council tax bill, with few exceptions. When deciding on its scheme, a local authority should take into account the needs of vulnerable people and support work incentives.



  • Check the local authority website for more details of the Council Tax Support scheme and how to apply for help from the Exceptional Hardship Fund.


If you're a pensioner, if your income is less than an amount the government says you need to live on you will be entitled to maximum Council Tax Reduction.

 

  • If you get the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, your income and capital are ignored and you will get full Council Tax Reduction.
  • When working out your entitlement to Council Tax Reduction, the way some things are dealt with will be the same for all pensioners, regardless of where you live. This includes:


·        the way your income and capital are worked out

·        the way your applicable amount is worked out. This is the amount the government says you need to live on

·        the way non-dependant deductions are worked out

·        the way temporary absences from home are dealt with.

 

  • All pensioners must also be allowed to apply for a second adult rebate under the Council Tax Reduction scheme.


For more information and advice go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk




30 October 2018
Citizens Advice Torbay responds to the budget

Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Torbay, has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget announcement yesterday.


Responding to the government's announcement of a boost in funding for Universal Credit in this year's Budget, Steve Barriball, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Torbay, said:


 “Yesterday’s announcement suggests the government rightly acknowledges Universal Credit has serious problems that must be fixed. This funding will help some people who are really struggling to get by including disabled people.


“However, there are still fundamental problems with Universal Credit. Based on our evidence, we believe improvements must be made to Universal Credit before millions more people are moved onto the new benefit.


“We await further details on additional protections announced for those moving over to Universal Credit as we’re concerned some people may be left behind without enough money to live on.”


Commenting on the government announcement on debt breathing space and interest-free loans, Steve Barriball said:


“Improvements to the breathing space scheme and a proposal for an interest-free-loan scheme are welcome news from the Treasury.


“We expect this lead to be a call to action to the public and private sectors, and to regulators, to tackle the misery of debt and help more than one million people who are forced to turn to high-cost credit.


“The government should now reinforce these initiatives by overhauling its own debt collection practices, including regulating bailiffs. It should also ensure specialist debt advice is readily available for people alongside breathing space and that the Financial Conduct Authority caps the cost of rent-to-own agreements by April 2019.”


30 October 2018
Earlier in the year we had a week-long holiday to Greece. My outbound flight was cancelled with an hour's notice, but i got the replacement flight provided by the airline. Can I claim compensation?

If your flight is cancelled at short notice you are legally entitled to a full refund or a replacement flight.


If the replacement flight delays you arriving at your destination, you can also claim compensation directly from the airline operating the flight - unless it was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, like bad weather.


The amount you can claim depends on when your replacement flight departed and arrived, how far you were travelling, and when the flight was cancelled.


Start by contacting the airline’s customer services department and explain you’d like to claim compensation for the delay.


They will ask for your flight details and booking reference number, and explain your next steps - either writing a letter or filling in a form on their website. You’ll need to enclose copies of any tickets and receipts. Make a copy or take a screenshot of the form.


If the problem isn’t resolved after 8 weeks, you can take your complaint to the Alternative Dispute Resolution service the airline is a member of, or if that doesn’t work, the Civil Aviation Authority.


For further help contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk


15 October 2018
I recently become a carer for my partner who I live with and can no longer work. We’ve started falling behind on our bills and I’m worried our debts are only going to get worse. I’m on Carer’s Allowance but what else can I do to turn things around?

A change in circumstances can often trigger financial problems. It’s good to see you taking action now as this will stop you from sliding into further debt.


See if you can make any savings on your household bills by switching suppliers, or changing deals. You may be able to get a reduction on your council tax bill - speak to the local authority directly about this.


Try to boost your income too. You may be able to apply for benefits jointly with your partner to be paid alongside Carers Allowance. This could be Income Support, income-related Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit, depending on where you live.


You should contact your creditors and ask if you can reduce your repayments until you’re back in work. They can also freeze any interest and charges so your debts don’t go up while you pay less. Check to see if you have payment protection insurance to cover giving up work to become a carer as well.


If you’re still struggling to cover your outgoings, it’s important to prioritise paying your household bills like your council tax and rent or mortgage.


For further help working out your budget, negotiating with creditors or checking which benefits you’re entitled to visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

01 October 2018
I am worried that my employer is withholding my employment rights from me. What should I be looking out for?

Asking people to go self-employed to keep their jobs, telling agency staff they don’t get sick pay and suggesting that pregnant staff cut their hours are among the things some employers say to try and find ways around workers’ rights.


All employees are entitled to basic rights such as national minimum wage, sick pay, holiday pay and fair treatment during pregnancy. However, issues such as contract types and unclear employment status can leave workers unsure about what they’re entitled to, and allow unscrupulous employers to find ways of depriving them of pay and protections.


We want the Government to create a single Fair Work Authority to make it easier for people to get the rights they’re entitled to by clamping down on illegal business practice.


We have identified 10 common things that some employers say to try and mislead people about their rights. If you hear any of these, get advice:


  1. “You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own national insurance contributions.”
  2. “We can’t afford to pay you any more - you’ll have to go self-employed.”
  3. “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you the minimum wage.”
  4. “You were traveling between clients - so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”
  5. “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”
  6. “You’re having a baby next year? We’ll need to take you off that important project now.”
  7. “We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”
  8. “We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take holiday.”
  9. “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”
  10. “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”


Follow our top tips for tackling problems at work


  1. Keep evidence - keep hold of letters, payslips, emails and texts, and note down a record of conversations you’ve had which could be used to support your case.
  2. Talk to your boss - problems may arise from honest mistakes or misunderstanding the law. If you don’t feel confident having a conversation one to one, ask a colleague or Union rep to join you.
  3. Have a more formal discussion - if the issue isn’t resolved with an informal conversation, the next step is to raise a written grievance which should give you the chance to discuss your issue formally. ACAS has guidance on what to do at: www.acas.org.uk
  4. Get advice - if you’re still not getting anywhere, speak to your Trade Union, ACAS or Citizens Advice. Options might include using dispute resolution to liaise with your employer, or going to an employment tribunal.


More information and advice is available at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk