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Hospital discharge survey

Have you recently been discharged from hospital or know someone who has?

Healthwatch Hampshire and Citizens Advice are conducting a survey about people’s experiences of being discharged from hospital. To take the survey, click the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CitizensAdviceHospitalDischargeSurvey


July 2017 is Scams Awareness Month

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

We are 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 495 over the same period the year before.

Ange Moon, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Test Valley 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 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 or www.actionfraud.police.uk

Half of people on zero hours contracts think they're not entitled to paid holiday.

Half of people on zero hours contracts, and two in five people on temporary contracts wrongly believe they are not entitled to paid holidays.

We are calling on the next government to ensure workers are aware of, and are able to take, the paid holiday that they are entitled to.

A Citizens Advice investigation found that while some employers are misleading employees about holiday entitlement due to bosses’ ignorance, others are deliberately flouting the law and are exploiting workers’ confusion.

In the last financial year almost 185,000 people got help from Citizens Advice on employment issues - with 10,000 cases specifically about paid holiday. Over the same period the Citizens Advice web page on paid holiday had 260,000 visitors.

One man Citizens Advice helped has worked in a care home for over 5 years, working 48 hours a week. His employer had previously told him that night workers are not entitled to paid holiday, and he had never questioned this until recently. When he visited Citizens Advice, it was calculated that he has incorrectly missed out on paid holiday of £8,900.

A woman who worked in the sales sector, was told she could only take holiday if she met her sales targets, which is unlawful.

Separate research finds that between a third and half of employers use fixed term or temporary workers and more than half (57%) of employers use variable hours or shift work.

Citizens Advice is calling on the next government to:

  • Combine the enforcement of employment rights into one powerful Fair Work Authority that can tackle employers that break the rules.
  • Place a £50 cap on Employment Tribunal fees so that people who are treated unfairly by their employer aren’t denied access to justice.
  • Define self-employment in law to prevent exploitative employers restricting people’s rights, including access to the minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“Half of people on zero hours contracts, and many on temporary contracts, think they are not entitled to paid holiday.

“Thousands are missing out on rights they are entitled to due to a lack of awareness, confusion and in some cases deliberate dirty tactics by employers.

“With more than half of employers having staff working shifts or variable hours, action needs to be taken now to protect workers rights.

“There’s been welcome attention from political parties on issues surrounding rights at work, and we hope that the next government takes steps to make people’s jobs and income more secure.

“Citizens Advice is calling for all employment rights enforcement to be brought into one Fair Work Authority that can tackle employers that break the rules. We also want to see a £50 cap on Employment Tribunal fees, so that people who are treated unfairly by their employer aren’t priced out of justice.”


Get To Grips With Your Pension

Citizens Advice Test Valley encourages over 50s to get to grips with their pension

The average age of people getting guidance with their pension is 61 despite free support being available for anyone over 50.

This means people could be planning their retirement finances 11 years before finishing work, to make sure they have the right money to fit into their plans.

As the Pension Wise service reaches its first anniversary, Citizens Advice Test Valley says it’s never too early to start planning for your retirement and is encouraging locals 50 and over to book a free guidance session.

In April 2015, rules around pensions changed and for the first time, people were able to decide whether they buy an annuity, cash in their whole pension pot, take a lump sum, or a mixture of these options.

Ange Moon, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Test Valley said:

“It’s never too early to start thinking about your pension.

“For many 50 year olds retirement may seem a long way off but it’s a good time to start understanding how your pension could support your plans for the future.

“The pension freedoms have given consumers a lot of options they might not be aware of or fully understand, such as cashing in part of their pension. Pension Wise guidance specialists can walk people through their options and get them on the right track towards a financially secure retirement.

To book a face to face or telephone Pension Wise appointment call 0800 138 8292.

What to prepare to get the most out of your Pension Wise appointment:

  • First, work out the value of your pension pots. You can look at your most recent statement, or contact your provider.
  • Check if there are any restrictions on your pension, such as penalties for taking it early.
  • Get a state pension forecast - you can find out how to do this from the Pension Wise website.
  • Gather information on any benefits you receive as any pension decision you make could affect these.
  • Work out your likely living expenses, including the cost of essentials like housing and utilities, and leisure activities. This should help you come up with a rough budget, which you can compare to your potential pension income.

Bring the information to your Pension Wise appointment. Your guidance specialist will help you think through your circumstances, and present the options available to you.


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