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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 01594 823937 ext. 1005 if you wish to attend.
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
Contact council champion
FODDC Transport Champion District councillor representative for transport 01594 833814 Clive.Elsmore@fdean.gov.uk
Betterbuses – Sue Dubois Campaigning 01594 517297 email@example.com Web: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/better-buses-4-forest-of-…
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.
Looking for a new challenge?
Citizens Advice Forest of Dean is looking to recruit more members to our existing friendly Board of Trustees.
What are Trustees?
Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They plat a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity's work. They are responsible for setting out the strategic direction of the charity and must be confident that it is well managed and meeting its objectives. It is the Trustee's reponsibility to ensure the organisation is financially secure and complies to all relevant legislation.
How do I apply?
For full details of the role and an application form, please contact Lynn Teague: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will also be attending FVAF's Trustee Event - pop in and say hello!
People in Forest of Dean are over £1 million better off thanks to the work ofCitizens Advice Forest of Dean
Local people in the Forest of Dean have benefited to the tune of over £1 million in the last year from the help provided Citizens Advice Forest of Dean, according to new analysis by the charity.
People have been left in a better financial position after the charity helped them deal with spiralling debts, claim support such as tax credits and other benefits, and resolve costly problems with their energy bills and other consumer issues.
In the last year the charity helped 2,720 people with 18,800 problems, including debt, benefit, housing and employment issues. Over a third of these clients were struggling with disabilities or long term health issues, physical or mental, and the charity's help has enabled them to cope better with life’s challenges.
Problems can arise suddenly and can happen to anyone – losing a job, becoming ill or a relationship breaking down. One problem can lead to another and become overwhelming; the effect on mental health can be very acute. Problems are often complex and knowing how to deal with them can be challenging. It needs someone skilled and independent to stand back and take an overall look at the situation. This is where Citizens Advice can help.
Citizens Advice Forest of Dean is run by 9 staff and 28 volunteers, who provide free, confidential and independent advice to help people overcome their problems. The charity is a member of the national Citizens Advice network but is run as a local charity with its own board of volunteer trustees.
Lynn Teague, chief executive of Citizens Advice Forest of Dean, said:
“Our staff and volunteers help thousands of people in the Forest of Dean every year to find a way forward. We can’t put a financial value to all the work we do helping local people, but we have been able to identify and measure some of the benefits of our service.
The help we provide to local residents can also contribute to savings for the public purse. By tackling people’s problems before they get worse we can help to relieve pressure on government-funded health and housing services.
People don’t have to suffer in silence - anyone who is grappling with a problem in their day to day lives should get in touch with us.
As a charity dedicated to helping the people of the Forest we are dependent on local volunteers and funding. We are always looking for new volunteers and trustees, so if you would like to join a fantastic team, we'd love to hear from you. Volunteers get full training and all the support they need to help them in the wonderful job they do."
Citizens Advice Forest of Dean is urging people in the Forest to spread the word about scams and expose the tactics of fraudsters to protect others.
It comes as national research by Citizens Advice finds scammers are using a variety of tactics to get people to part with their cash, with people losing an average of £2,500 across all types of scam.
Scam methods include vishing whereby scammers cold-call people in a bid to get their bank details, and offers of fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely.
Investment scams carried the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares losing of on average £20,000 each.
Citizens Advice is warning people to be on guard and watch out for the different methods used by fraudsters, from doorstep selling of counterfeit goods to demands for upfront payments for services that never materialise.
Eight common scams reported to Citizens Advice are:
- Investment - victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back.
- Fake services - people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
- Fishing - con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details - for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills.
- Doorstep selling - victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
- Upfront payment or fee - fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
- Premium rate texts - victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
- Counterfeit goods - people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
- Goods not received - people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.
If you have been scammed, get advice and report it to Trading Standards through your local Citizens Advice or through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
Do you use bus services in the Forest of Dean area?
Gloucestershire County Council is currently running a survey on bus routes in the Forest of Dean. The results of the survey will help to inform a scrutiny exercise which will consider figures, profit and efficiency.
In particular, evening and Sunday services will be looked at.
Local public transport campaigners in the Forest are concerned that, in a rural area where buses are a lifeline to many, more cuts to bus services are on the horizon. They are urging anyone who cares about public transport in the Forest to make their views known.
The survey is open until 22nd July. It can be accessed online at gloucestershire.gov.uk/bussurvey
You can also get paper copies from:
Dial-a-ride at Lydney bus station
Reception desk at Coleford should have them but check first 01594 810000
Via Sue Dubois on 01594 517297
Please note that the survey options are carefully worded, please read carefully before sending.
Worried about money? Citizens Advice Forest of Dean is holding a series of free budgeting worksops during August at the Main Place in Coleford. Please see poster below for dates. Workshops are also planned for Newent, Lydney and Cinderford with dates and venues to be confirmed. For further information, please contact Wes Hayfield on 01594 823936 ext. 216.