The number of people on Universal Credit in Gwynedd has more than doubled since March last year to 8,712. We are concerned that in three months’ time the UK Government intends to end the £20 per week uplift in both Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. This has made a real difference to families who are struggling and removing it could take over £8m out of the local economy, or more if claims go up which is all the more likely if the furlough scheme comes to an end before the economy is fully able to reopen.
We have written to Liz Saville Roberts and Hywel Williams urging them to make representations to the Chancellor to keep the uplift.
Although times are hard for many of us, help is available. We are working closely with the various foodbanks in Gwynedd: we refer clients in desperate need to them and they refer clients to us so that we can help them with their underlying problems. Arfon and South Gwynedd Foodbanks have secured additional funding so we can ensure advisers are immediately available when needed. We are also working with colleagues across North Wales to provide advice on maximising income to people with mental health problems or at risk of developing mental health problems. The Welsh Government has provided additional funding to help us do this. If you know anyone who might benefit from this you can refer them using this link wherever in North Wales they live: cabgwynedd.wales/incomemax
CAB Gwynedd are readily available to provide advice and assistance during this difficult time.
Click hereand you will see the different options that are available for you to receive advice and assistance from us.
For local information on the services that are available to help you whilst self-isolating, please see Gwynedd Council’s website, which is updated daily. You can click here to go to the relevant page.
There is also a Directoryavailable with information on the volunteers and businesses that are available in your area who can help you, in particular those who can provide food delivery and an essential shopping service.
There is a clear scientific consensus that the world faces a climate emergency. This emergency has the clear potential to adversely effect the living conditions, health and general well-being of the residents of Gwynedd and therefore goes to the heart of our charitable objectives.
It is therefore appropriate for us to publicise this emergency so that individuals and organisations are aware of the importance of taking action and take what steps we can to minimise the carbon footprint of the charity itself.
Citizens Advice has been contacted by the Insolvency Service regarding bankrupts being targeted by scammers.
Bankrupts are receiving letters or phone calls from Baddebtor.co.uk, apparently as a result of public information from The Gazette, asking them to pay a fee if they want the record of their bankruptcy removed from the scammers portals such as;
Bad Debtor Platform,
Social Network Portals.
They use the Insolvency Service’s online adjudicator’s reference, from the Gazette, which appears to make them believable. Adjudicators are going to warn people but if anyone comes across this can they report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 so that consumer complaints are available to Trading Standards.
Spread love not hate is the message being spread this week across North Wales.
Communities in North Wales need to come together to tackle all forms of hate crime, as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week which begins on 13th October 2018. Gwynedd Citizens Advice will be promoting ways on how to report Hate Crime by talking to groups in the community.
Hate Crime is on the rise and needs to be stopped. Crimes committed against someone because of their age, religion, gender identity, disability and sexual orientation are all Hate Crimes. It is important people can identify what a Hate Crime is and how to report it so that it can be stopped.
Gwynedd Citizens Advice can assist with helping people report Hate Crimes and help with identifying what Hate Crime is.
Tal Michael, CEO of Gwynedd Citizens Advice said:
‘If you witness any Hate Crime please report it. It is vital that Hate Crimes are reported to put an end to Hate Crime. North Wales is a place open for everyone no matter who they are and where they come from. This campaign is a fabulous opportunity to promote how Hate Crime can be reported and most importantly identifying when Hate Crime happens’
“Don’t struggle in silence”, says local Citizens Advice in North Wales
Our network of local Citizens Advice in North Wales helped over 4,400 people with problems related to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) last 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 us across North Wales about PIP wanted help to:
● Make a claim or check their eligibility ● Challenge the outcome of their assessment decision ● Take their appeal to tribunal
In one example, Citizens Advice helped a man with multiple long-term health conditions who after moving from DLA to PIP, was receiving less benefit. He contacted the charity for assistance with a PIP appeal where it was also worked out he was entitled to Pension Credit. Citizens Advice helped him make the claim which helped to ease the burden of the reduction in the disability benefit.
As detailed in the report, in total last year, Citizens Advice Wales helped more than 100,000 people resolve their problems. PIP problems were the most common advice issue for the charity with 17,000 people seeking its help.
The top three issues reported to local Citizens Advice in North Wales in 2017/18 were:
Fran Targett, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru, said:
“No one else sees so many people with so many different kinds of problems and that gives us unique insight into the challenges people are facing today.”
“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.”
“Don’t struggle in silence. The Welsh Government currently funds quality-assured, specialist welfare benefit advice across Wales and we’re here to help.”
“Anyone who wants to make a PIP appeal, or has a more general query about the benefit, should contact their local Citizens Advice to understand their next steps.”
Our network of Local Citizens Advice in North Wales cover the local authority areas of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham.
The charities run face-to-face sessions, as well as a phone helpline to make it easier for people to access its free and impartial advice service.
Anyone in Gwynedd requiring advice or support can contact the local Adviceline on 0345 450 3064.
Christmas is a time of giving, but you don’t want to give yourself a headache in the New Year with bills and debts you can’t afford. It’s all too easy to overspend – there are tempting offers and pressures to buy, but you must decide how much you can afford before you start spending. Planning, budgeting and organisation are key to avoid getting into debt at Christmas and beyond. If your spending runs out of control, you can soon find that debt is not only a problem at Christmas, but can become a way of life. If you do get into difficulties, get advice as soon as you can by calling Gwynedd Citizens Advice on 0345 450 3064, attending a drop in, completing an Enquiry Form (for Gwynedd Residents) or visiting the Citizens Advice website
Here are a few tips to avoid getting into debt;
1. Plan early for Christmas
Be realistic and budget accordingly. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person – and stick to it. Manage expectations as to what you or Santa can give.
2. Don’t forget the everyday bills
Remember that rent, the mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid – and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Even though it’s Christmas, get your priorities right.
3. Don’t bank on an overdraft
If you do need more money, don’t just run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first – it will work out much more expensive.
4. Keep things simple
If you can afford to pay for your goods outright by cash, cheque, or debit card, don’t be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements unless they really do work out cheaper.
5. Shop around
Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need. Be wary of extended warranties; the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty.
6. Buy safe to be safe
Whatever the deal, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unauthorised traders and don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. The initial savings and convenience may prove to be a false economy.
7. Read the small print
Check for hidden extras in any credit agreement. Work out the total amount payable. Ensure that the monthly installments are within your budget before signing. Interest free credit can seem attractive, but if you don’t pay on time, or miss a payment, you could have to pay a lot more.
8. Do your own credit checks
If you are going to use a credit card, shop around and compare terms. Some cards charge high interest rates, but provide interest free periods or discounts. Budget for all these costs and put the payment dates in your diary.
9. Be organised
There’s a lot to remember at Christmas. If you’ve borrowed money don’t forget that it won’t be long before you have to make a payment. Make sure you pay on time, even if it is only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges.
10. Start planning and saving for next Christmas
Once Christmas is over, it’s worth looking at what you did well and what you didn’t. Learn from your mistakes and start planning how you will do things differently next year. This might also be a good time to start saving for next Christmas.