More people needing help with PIP, says Citizens Advice Ipswich

Citizens Advice Ipswich helped 50% more clients with a problem related to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in the year to 31 March 2017, compared to the previous year.

PIP is a benefit that helps people to meet the extra costs of being disabled or having a long term health condition. For example it allows them to employ a carer who can help them get washed and dressed in the mornings, or to have a mobility scooter so they can travel to work.

Most people who contacted the charity about PIP wanted help to:

  • Make a claim or check their eligibility
  • Challenge the outcome of their assessment decision
  • Take their appeal to tribunal

To receive PIP people must have an assessment to gauge the level of assistance they need but flaws with the system can result in delays in getting an assessment, assessments being offered at inconvenient venues or cancelled at short notice, and some people being wrongly assessed.

The charity saw one client with serious health problems who was given an appointment for a PIP assessment in a town 35 miles away, involving a journey of at least two and a half hours by public transport. Although the client was refused a change of venue when she tried to get it moved, with help from Citizens Advice Ipswich the appointment was rearranged for the local assessment centre, a simple bus journey from the client’s home.

Common problems with the assessment include confusion over what evidence to submit in advance, being rushed for time during the assessment and the wrong information being recorded by assessors.

In total, almost 20,000 people asked Citizens Advice for help with a PIP problem in the year ending March 2017 making it the most common advice issue for the charity. Ipswich dealt with 158 which is over twice the national average.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ipswich said:

“A wrong PIP assessment decision can lead to people missing out on the everyday support they need.

“The daily reality of living with a disability can often be overlooked during the PIP assessment so it’s important that people know they can try to overturn this decision by asking for a reconsideration or appealing their case at tribunal.”

“Anyone who wants to make a PIP appeal, or has a more general query about the benefit, should contact Citizens Advice Ipswich or Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau to understand their next steps.”

General information on PIP and other benefits for disabled people or people with long-term health conditions can be found on https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/

Vacancy: Training Supervisor

We are a dynamic and busy town centre bureau serving a diverse urban and rural community. We are seeking to appoint to the following post:

Training Supervisor

Contract: Initial 12 month contract

Salary: £18,300 pro rata

Hours: 20 hours per week (Flexible Monday – Friday)

Closing Date: Monday 16th October 2017

Interview Date: Friday 27th October 2017

Ipswich Citizens Advice is currently looking for an experienced Trainer to lead our volunteer recruitment and training programme. The role will be to recruit and train volunteers in a variety of roles with particular focus on supporting people through the Adviser Learning Programme. The role will also contribute to the training and development of all staff and volunteers within the organisation.

Highly motivated, with experience of working in an advice setting, you will have a passion for motivating and supporting people to achieve their full potential.

For application forms please contact:

Sam Darr – Admin Support Assistant
Tel: 01473 219770

For informal discussion please contact:

Nelleke Van Helfteren – Deputy Manager
Tel: 01473 219772

To apply for this position, please fill out our Contact form via this link.

Address:
19 Tower Street
Ipswich
IP1 3BE

Citizens Advice Ipswich reveals home improvement nightmares

Citizens Advice Ipswich is warning residents to be on the lookout for rogue builders as the national charity reveals it has helped people with 40,000 problems related to home improvements in the last year.

As people make use of the summer to have work done on their homes, Citizens Advice Ipswich is revealing the top three most common building problems people report:

  1. Complaints about the quality of the work carried out, such as using the wrong fixings to secure a TV bracket to a wall so that it fell off the wall, breaking the TV and damaging the plaster
  2. Work being unsafe or faulty, for example a visit from a boiler company that resulted in no hot water, no central heating and two leaks that weren’t there before
  3. Worthless warranties, like that provided by a driveway paving business that came into the area, sold its services to local residents and then disappeared

People contacted Citizens Advice wanting to know how to resolve their home improvement problems and their rights around refunds and compensation.

Citizens Advice Ipswich is offering top tips on how to avoid problems when hiring someone to carry out work, and your rights if things do go wrong.

What to do when hiring a trader:

  • Get references or recommendations – you can either get recommendations from people you know, or use a website that rates traders. If you can’t get a recommendation, you should ask the person you hire for examples of work they have carried out in the past.
  • Find out if they are a member of a trade body – trade bodies have codes of practice and can help resolve problems if things go wrong.
  • Get a written quote – not an estimate, and be clear about what the quote covers. A quote is legally binding and the builder can’t change it without a good reason. An estimate is just a guess at how much the work will cost, and so it could change. You can compare quotes from a number of contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price.
  • Get a written contract – this should cover timing, payments, who will pay for materials and subcontractors, and what exactly is being done. If you can, you should pay in stages rather than upfront.
  • Keep copies of receipts and your written contract as evidence, as well as photos of any problems which arise.

What to do when things go wrong:

  • Ask the builders to fix the work if the work is not up to scratch or is unfinished.
  • Ask for some money back. Suggest a figure and explain why it is reasonable – for example, you may have to pay to have the work fixed.
  • Complain in writing to the trader or their company, and check to see if they are a member of a trade association to see if they can help.
  • Look for an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme – this is an independent third party who can help you to reach a resolution. The trader should provide you with the name of a certified scheme.
  • Consider taking the builders to county court. This is a last resort and you should be aware that you will need to pay fees.

Citizens Advice Ipswich Chief Executive Nicky Willshere said:

“Shoddy workmanship and unfinished home improvements are leaving people in Ipswich out of pocket and facing huge disruptions to their lives.”

“Many people have come to Citizens Advice Ipswich in the past year wanting to know how they how they can get refunds or compensation for dodgy building work.”

“If you’ve had a problem with building work, and you’re not sure about your rights or what to do next, visit Citizens Advice Ipswich or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.”

3 in 1 for Wednesday 27 September from Citizens Advice Ipswich!

  • Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Bureau 43rd Annual General Meeting PLUS
  • Launch of 3Ds Project with ISCRE – our Guide on disability related reasonable adjustments to Universal Credit PLUS
  • Fixing Universal Credit – update from our national campaign – Presentation by Guest Speaker – Afzal Rahman, Principal Policy Researcher from Citizens Advice

I am writing to invite you to the AGM of the Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Bureau. The AGM will be held at 12.00 noon on Wednesday 27th September 2017 in the Meeting Room at 19 Tower Street, Ipswich, IP1 3BE.

We are delighted to be joined by a senior policy researcher from our national Campaigns team who will talk about how the Universal Credit rollout is going for clients across the country and our insight nationally. He will be highlighting our national campaign – We’re pushing hard for a pause in the rollout until the problems which have been identified across Citizens Advice bureaux are resolved.

We are also delighted to launch with ISCRE our jointly produced leaflet on disability related reasonable adjustments to Universal Credit.

Following the AGM I would like to invite you to join us for refreshments.

I would be grateful if you could confirm your attendance beforehand – RSVP via this web site or phone 01473 219770.

If you have any questions or would like more information then please feel free to contact me. I look forward to seeing you at the AGM.

Nicky Willshere

Chief Officer

Right to holiday when employed as a temp

I’ve just been hired by a cafe as a temp covering the busy summer months. My boss says that because I’m a temp, I’m not allowed to take any holiday. Is this right?

Your boss is wrong – as an employee, you’re entitled to take paid holiday regardless of the contract you’re on.

While they can refuse to give you leave at specific times, they can’t refuse you holiday pay altogether. If you can’t take time off during your contract you should receive your holiday pay in a lump sum at the end.

How much holiday you’re allowed depends on the length of your contract, and how many hours you work.

First, check how many hours you’re entitled to by using gov.uk’s calculator. Save a copy of the calculation to refer to.

Then speak with your boss and explain that you are entitled to either annual leave or pay in lieu of your holiday – you can refer to your employment rights on the Citizens Advice website. Give them a copy of your holiday calculation too.

If your boss refuses to give you time off or holiday pay, put your complaint in writing to them.

Should your boss still not give way get in touch with ACAS, the free dispute resolution service that specialises in employment.

For help understanding your rights, approaching the discussion with your boss or taking things further, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Vacancy: Money Adviser / Debt Caseworker

Money Adviser / Debt Caseworker

Contract:
Initial 12 month contract

Salary: Negotiable depending on accreditation and experience

Hours: Up to 37.5 hours per week (PT or Job share considered)

Closing Date: Friday 11th August 2017

Interview Date: Thursday 17th & Friday 18th August 2017

Ipswich Citizens Advice is looking for an experienced and well organised Money Adviser/ Debt Caseworker to join our expanding Money Advice Team.

The successful candidate will provide an in-depth casework service to the organisation’s clients working face to face as well as by telephone. You will therefore need a good working knowledge of money and debt advice, the ability to prioritise cases efficiently and the ability to work as part of a team.

Ideally, you will be a qualified Debt Relief Order Intermediary although this is not essential it is expected you will have reasonable experience to enable you to work towards achieving this status.

For application forms please contact: Sam Darr – Admin Support Assistant
Tel: 01473 219770
or Contact: via this website

For informal discussion please contact: Nelleke Van Helfteren – Deputy Manager
Tel: 01473 219772
or Contact: via this website

Address: 19 Tower Street
Ipswich
IP1 3BE

Citizens Advice Ipswich is urging people to act on scams

Citizens Advice Ipswich is spreading the word about scams to help stop more people across Ipswich from being conned.

The charity is taking part in Scams Awareness Month, a campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams that starts on Saturday 1 July.

The drive to get more people reporting scams comes as national Citizens Advice reveals a 17% increase in people being scammed after purchasing ‘phantom goods’.

The scam works by conning shoppers into buying high value items, namely online, which turn out not to exist. The average loss was £1,100.

People were most likely to be scammed when buying cars, flights and furniture. Other ‘phantom goods’ included jewellery and cameras.

The Citizens Advice consumer service received 555 reports of ‘phantom goods’ scams during January and March 2017, compared with 475 over the same period the year before.

  • Scams operating in the local area reported to Citizens Advice Ipswich over the past year include online adverts offering cheap loans,
  • bogus cheap mobile phone contracts,
  • cheap cosmetics bought online leading to additional sums for non-existent items being charged to bank account.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ipswich, said:

“Being scammed can ruin people’s finances.”

“People can lose significant amounts from phantom good scams, so it’s important they don’t rush into online purchases until they’re sure the seller is genuine.”

“During Scams Awareness Month we’re encouraging people to play their part in preventing scams by reporting them and telling others about them. People can also come and see us or call the Citizens Advice consumer service if they want advice on whether something is a genuine deal or a scam, or for advice if they have been scammed.”

Getting advice and report scams:

  • Get advice on an offer you’ve had, or find out how you can get your money back if you’ve been scammed, from the Citizens Advice consumer service: 03454 04 05 06
  • Report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040 www.actionfraud.police.uk

More than two in three people (69%) who shop online have had parcels lost, damaged or turn up late in the last year, according to new research by Citizens Advice

As summer sales season gets underway, Citizens Advice says problems with late deliveries affect online shoppers the most – including those who paid for a premium service guaranteeing next day or a named day delivery.

Other common issues include parcels being left in unsecure locations, such as bins, and unnecessary failed deliveries – where people waited at home for a parcel, only to receive a note saying they’d missed it.

A survey of over 2,000 online shoppers carried out in December 2016 reveals:

  • 38% of people have had a parcel arrive late – including more than one in ten (16%) who paid for premium delivery service.
  • More than 1 in 10 have received damaged items.
  • More than 1 in 5 had a parcel go missing
  • 28% had a parcel left in an unsecure location
  • 28% were at home but had a note through the door saying the parcel couldn’t be delivered.

A new report ‘Parcel delivery: Delivery services in the online shopping market’ published by the charity today, highlights the problems people face resolving their delivery complaints.

More than half of people (54%) don’t take any action if their parcel is late – such as complaining or asking for a refund. Meanwhile a third of consumers who receive a damaged parcel don’t take action. For those that did try to complain, over 40% ran into problems – such as difficulty contacting the retailer or delivery company on the phone.
The research also found that half of consumers were unsure about who was responsible for the delivery of their parcel in the first place.

Citizens Advice’s consumer service helps people with around 2,600 parcel delivery issues each year. In 2016, over 23,000 people also visited the charity’s website seeking help for parcel problems.
A common issue reported to Citizens Advice was parcels that had been left in rubbish bins.

One woman who came to Citizens Advice for help was on holiday when her parcel was left in a bin. When she returned the bin had been emptied and the parcel gone. When she tried to complain to the retailer she was told it was not their responsibility.
Another man ordered a car part online which was left in a bin that was emptied by the time he got home from work. He complained to the sender but they said it wasn’t their fault.

Citizens Advice suggests a number of measures to make it easier for consumers to sort out their delivery problems, including:

  • Asking retailers and parcel firms to explain more clearly on their websites what customers’ delivery rights are.
  • Set up a quality mark scheme for parcel delivery firms that retailers could use to judge which offer the best service to their customers.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“Online shopping should be quick and convenient – but problems with delivery create unwanted hassle.

“Waiting at home for an item that doesn’t arrive is frustrating and time consuming – but our research shows many people aren’t taking action to resolve delivery issues, and others are running into problems if they do.”

“Retailers are responsible for getting the parcel to the customer – and making this clearer to customers at the checkout could help them sort out problems quicker if deliveries go astray.”

How to solve online delivery problems

Your parcel doesn’t arrive when you expected it to

Standard delivery: If you’re worried an item hasn’t arrived by the date agreed on your order, contact the retailer to find out where it is.The retailer is responsible for getting orders delivered to you, not the parcel company.If you didn’t agree a specific delivery date, it should arrive within 30 days of when you ordered it. You can cancel the order and get a full refund if it doesn’t arrive after 30 days.

Premium delivery: You can claim a refund for some of the cost of delivery. Legally, retailers only need to refund the cost of the cheapest delivery option – so if you paid for a premium ‘next day’ or ‘named day’ service, you may not get all your money back.

Your parcel is damaged
It is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure items arrive in good condition. Contact them about the damage and they will either offer to send you a new item or refund you.

Someone was waiting at home for the parcel, but a note said it couldn’t be delivered
Contact the parcel firm to arrange a redelivery, or alternatively if you don’t want it any more you can cancel the order if it’s been less than 14 days since you bought it and get a refund. Although legally you’re not entitled to compensation in this situation it’s worth complaining to the delivery firm and retailer – they will value your feedback and may offer you a goodwill gesture.

Your parcel was left in an unsecure location
If you get a note saying your parcel has been left in a certain location but it isn’t there, the retailer should replace it or give you your money back. If you receive the item but aren’t happy with where it was left, complain to both the retailer and delivery firm. Although not legally obliged, they may offer you some sort of compensation as a goodwill gesture.

Citizens Advice Ipswich exposes 10 things employers say to mislead people about their rights

Asking people to become self-employed if they want to keep their jobs or telling agency staff they don’t have a legal right to sick pay are just some of the things employers say to find ways around people’s rights at work, Citizens Advice Ipswich can reveal.

The national charity has identified 10 common things that some employers say to try and mislead people about their rights.

In the 12 months to April, Citizens Advice Ipswich helped 570 people with a problem at work.

People were most likely to ask Citizens Advice Ipswich for advice on:

– Pay and entitlements, such as sick pay
– Dismissal
– Contract terms and conditions, such as whether they were workers or self-employed

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.

Now Citizens Advice Ipswich is exposing 10 things employers say that attempt to undermine people’s rights and setting the record straight on how they should be treated.

Citizens Advice Ipswich Chief Executive Nicky Willshere said:

“Unscrupulous bosses are using excuses to duck out of giving people the rights they’re entitled to.

“People with complicated working arrangements such as flexible hours, temporary or agency contracts can find it particularly difficult to work out what their rights are, allowing some bad bosses to trick them out of pay and entitlements.

“Anyone who thinks they aren’t being paid properly or are worried about things their boss has said should come to us for advice, so we can help clarify their rights and work out what to do next.”

10 things your boss shouldn’t say

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.”

Being asked to pay your own national insurance or to go self employed when nothing has changed are signs of ‘bogus self employment’ – where your boss claims you are self-employed but you’re not.

This saves employers money as they don’t pay national insurance on your wage – or need to pay you minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay or maternity pay either. Check your employment status – if you think you are an employee, ask to be treated like one. Get advice on how to approach the conversation.

3. “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”

4. “You were travelling between clients – so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”

Every employee should get national minimum wage, and you should be paid for all the time you spend at work. HMRC can help resolve problems with underpayment – Citizens Advice can guide you on next steps.

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.”

Your working arrangements during pregnancy should stay the same unless you ask for a change – any changes imposed on you are discrimination. Let your boss know that you want to continue work as normal, and if they insist on changes get advice.

7. “We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”

Wrong – some zero hours workers are entitled to redundancy pay. You need to have been working for your employer for two years or more, usually doing at least one shift a week. Citizens Advice can help you work out if you qualify.

8. “We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take holiday.”

If your employer needs you to take holiday, they should give you twice as much notice as the length of holiday needed. If you aren’t given proper notice, you should be paid and not asked to use leave. ACAS can liaise with both parties to resolve problems with leave if a discussion with your employer doesn’t work.

9. “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”

Agency workers should be paid sick pay by the agency. Check if you qualify for sick pay and work out your next steps.

10. “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”

If you’ve already agreed to work the hours and you’ve been absent long enough to qualify, you should get sick pay.

Citizens Advice 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.
4. Get advice – if you’re still not getting anywhere, speak to Citizens Advice, your Trade Union or to ACAS. Options might include using dispute resolution to liaise with your employer, or going to an employment tribunal.