Universal Credit

Posted by Julia Roxan on 17 November 2017

Citizens Advice Forest of Dean

Your local advice column

 

I am about to apply for Universal Credit for the first time, but have been told that there is a six week wait before the first payment. I’m worried that I won’t be able to pay my bills. Is this right, and is there anything I can do?

 

Universal Credit “Full Service” is starting in the Forest of Dean from Monday 22nd November. This means that anyone of working age (over 18 and under pension credit age) who is not working (whether unemployed, caring for someone or sick) or on low income may be able to claim Universal Credit. This replaces the old “legacy” benefits of Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Income Support. You should still apply for help with your council tax from the Forest of Dean District Council.

 

If you are already receiving the “legacy benefits” you will not have to claim Universal Credit unless your circumstances change significantly for example you have another child, move in with someone else, split up from an existing relationship, become sick, lose your job or start work from being unemployed.

 

It does not affect anyone over working age (pension credit age). Some under 18s can also claim, but this is the exception.

 

After applying for Universal Credit, there’s been, until this month, a five or six week wait before the first payment, which is explained during the application process.  However, the MPs in the House of Commons, on 16th November, in response to campaigning by charities such as Citizens Advice, voted unanimously for the Government to reduce the waiting time to 4 weeks. This should be implemented before the “full service” goes live on the 22nd November.

 

Although you can’t be paid faster, there are things you can do to help tide you over.

 

As part of the claim process, you’ll usually attend an interview at the Jobcentre Plus.

 

At the interview ask if you can apply for an “advance payment” - this is a loan that will be deducted from your future benefits.

 

You’ll need to show how much money you need for essential bills like food and housing, and explain why the loan will protect you from serious financial difficulty - like being unable to pay your rent.

 

Alternatively, you can apply for an advance payment through the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.

 

It’s best to apply as early as possible in your claim, as you may be turned down otherwise.

 

If you are refused an advance payment, you can ask the Jobcentre Plus for a reconsideration. Emergency assistance may be available if you are still turned down - Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice can inform of you of your next steps.

 

For further help understanding Universal Credit visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk or, if you need more advice, contact the Citizens Advice Forest of Dean on 01594 823937; visit our website www.forestofdeancab.co.uk, or find us on Facebook or twitter.

 

Please note there are drop-in services at: our Cinderford office on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 10am to 12.30pm; at our Coleford office on Monday afternoons 1.30pm to 4pm; in Newent Library Thursday mornings 10am – 12.30pm; St Briavels Assembly Hall on the first Thursday of the month 2pm - 4pm; and in Lydney Library every Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. Note that the Coleford office is now located in the Main Place (Coleford Library building).

 

Citizens Advice is a charity which offers free, confidential and independent advice. Each area has its own Citizens Advice charity, and is dependent on volunteers and local funding. We are always looking for new volunteers, trustees and financial support.

Copyright Citizens Advice 2017

 

 

 

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Christmas Closure

Posted by Cara Thurston on 17 November 2017

Citizens Advice Forest of Dean will be closed from Wednesday 20th December until Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

Our last advice sessions before Christmas closure will take place on Wednesday 20th, December:

Coleford 10am to 12.30pm (appointments only)

Cinderford 1.30pm to 4pm (appointments only)

Lydney 1.30pm to 4pm (appointments only)

Newent 10am to 12pm (drop-in)

Please note that our Lydney session will not re-open until Thursday 4th January

A list of useful numbers in case of emergency can be downloaded here

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Prepayment Meters

Posted by Julia Roxan on 10 November 2017

Citizens Advice Forest of Dean

Your local advice column

 

 

I am behind on my energy bills and my energy company wants to install a prepayment meter. I don't want one as I've heard they can be more expensive than paying by direct debit. What can I do?

 

Suppliers may try to install a prepayment meter if you are falling behind on your bills. This is so you can pay for your energy by topping up your meter before you use it, and don’t get into debt.

 

If you don’t want pay for energy in this way, contact your supplier to tell them you are struggling with your bills. They should help you agree a repayment plan, based on how much you can afford and how much energy you use. If you are already on a plan but can’t afford it, see if you can make a new arrangement.

 

Also discuss with your supplier the costs of the different meters and tariffs. Once you’ve agreed to pay back your debts, your supplier won’t install a prepayment meter if you don’t want one.

 

There are further steps you can take to help you with your bills. You may be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, which could reduce your energy bill by £140, or a one off Cold Weather Payment from the government.

 

Some energy companies also offer grants to their customers to pay off fuel debts, while other companies and charities have grants which are open to anyone.

 

For further help understanding your options visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk or, if you need more advice, contact the Citizens Advice Forest of Dean on 01594 823937; visit our website www.forestofdeancab.co.uk, or find us on Facebook or twitter.

 

Please note there are drop-in services at: our Cinderford office on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 10am to 12.30pm; at our Coleford office on Monday afternoons 1.30pm to 4pm; in Newent Library Thursday mornings 10am – 12.30pm; and in Lydney Library every Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. Note that the Coleford office is now located in the Main Place (Coleford Library building).

 

Citizens Advice is a charity which offers free, confidential and independent advice. Each area has its own Citizens Advice charity, and is dependent on volunteers and local funding. We are always looking for new volunteers, trustees and financial support.

Copyright Citizens Advice 2017

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Universal Credit

Posted by Julia Roxan on 9 November 2017

Citizens Advice Forest of Dean

Your local advice column

I am about to apply for Universal Credit  for the first time, but have been told that there is a six week wait before the first payment. I’m worried that I won’t be able to pay my bills. Is this right, and is there anything I can do?

 Universal Credit “Full Service” is starting in the Forest of Dean from Monday 22nd November. This means that anyone of working age (over 18 and under pension credit age) who is not working (whether unemployed, caring for someone or sick) or on low income may be able to claim Universal Credit. This replaces the old “legacy” benefits of Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Income Support. You should still apply for help with your council tax from the Forest of Dean District Council.

 If you are already receiving the “legacy benefits” you will not have to claim Universal Credit unless your circumstances change significantly for example you have another child, move in with someone else, split up from an existing relationship, become sick, lose your job or start work from being unemployed.

 It does not affect anyone over working age (pension credit age). Some under 18s cn also claim, but this is the exception.

 After applying for Universal Credit, there’s usually a five or six week wait before your first payment, which is explained during the application process.

 Although you can’t be paid faster, there are things you can do to help tide you over.

 As part of the claim process, you’ll usually attend an interview at the Jobcentre Plus.

 

At the interview ask if you can apply for an “advance payment” - this is a loan that will be deducted from your future benefits.

You’ll need to show how much money you need for essential bills like food and housing, and explain why the loan will protect you from serious financial difficulty - like being unable to pay your rent.

 

Alternatively, you can apply for an advance payment through the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.

 

It’s best to apply as early as possible in your claim, as you may be turned down otherwise.

 

If you are refused an advance payment, you can ask the Jobcentre Plus for a reconsideration. Emergency assistance may be available if you are still turned down - Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice can inform of you of your next steps.

 

For further help understanding Universal Credit visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk or, if you need more advice, contact the Citizens Advice Forest of Dean on 01594 823937; visit our website www.forestofdeancab.co.uk, or find us on Facebook or twitter.

 

Please note there are drop-in services at: our Cinderford office on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 10am to 12.30pm; at our Coleford office on Monday afternoons 1.30pm to 4pm; in Newent Library Thursday mornings 10am – 12.30pm; St Briavels Assembly Hall on the first Thursday of the month 2pm - 4pm; and in Lydney Library every Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. Note that the Coleford office is now located in the Main Place (Coleford Library building).

 

Citizens Advice is a charity which offers free, confidential and independent advice. Each area has its own Citizens Advice charity, and is dependent on volunteers and local funding. We are always looking for new volunteers, trustees and financial support.

Copyright Citizens Advice 2017

 

 

 

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New drop-in times

Posted by on 3 October 2017

The Forest of Dean CA drop in times are changing.

From Monday 9th October, they will be:

Monday mornings 10am -12.30pm at Cinderford (Forest Road Centre)

Monday afternoons 1.30pm – 4pm at Coleford (Main Place)

Wednesday mornings 10am to 12.30pm at Cinderford (Forest Road Centre)

Thursday mornings 10am – 12.30pm in Newent (Newent Library)  

Thursday afternoons 2pm to 4pm in Lydney (Lydney Library)

The first Thursday of the month 2pm – 4.30pm in St Briavels Assembly Rooms

 

Other sessions are appointment only.

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AGM 2017

Posted by on 16 September 2017

Annual General Meeting 2017

 

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Citizens Advice Forest of Dean will be held at Forest Road Centre, Cinderford, GL14 2NR from 5pm to 6pm on Wednesday 4th October 2017. Refreshments served from 4.30pm

 

All welcome. Please contact admin2@fod.cabnet.org.uk or 01594 823937 ext. 1005 if you wish to attend.

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Save vital Stagecoach routes

Posted by Louise Elliott on 8 August 2017

There is currently a local campaign to save vital Stagecoach bus routes from closure. The campaign gives the following information and ways you can help:

 

Passengers, parents, people you know
Please share the information below

Stagecoach have made changes to timetables and routes 3rd September 2017

Send your stories, scenarios and signatures to save services

Sign the petition

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/please-help-save-the-vital-stagecoach-33-bus-route-in-gloucestershire

Contact council champion

FODDC Transport Champion District councillor representative for transport 01594 833814 Clive.Elsmore@fdean.gov.uk

Contact campaigner

Betterbuses – Sue Dubois Campaigning 01594 517297 betterbuses4forestofdean@gmail.com Web: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/better-buses-4-forest-of-…

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Scam Awareness - new phishing scam

Posted by on 11 April 2017

NEW PHISHING SCAM – APRIL 2017

Gloucester CAB reports:

Fraudsters are turning to kindness with new phishing emails which encourage the recipient to open an attachment on the false premise that they could have already fallen victim to scammers.

Action Fraud has received 226 reports so far from email users who have this email.

The phishing email is sent from a fraudster who describes themselves a “law-abiding citizen” and has accidentally received the email recipient’s personal details. Attached to the phishing email is a document which the fraudster claims contains the recipient’s personal details.

The fraudster suggests that the email recipient’s details may have been made available to scammers and they are contacting them to try to rectify the problem. To do so the recipient must open the document.

In reality, the attached document opens the door to malware being downloaded onto the victim’s computer. The malware attempts to obtain sensitive data from victims, such as banking credentials and passwords; this is subsequently used to take money from the victim.

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