1 June - 7 June - Volunteers Week
Citizens Advice Test Valley thanks volunteers for
making a huge difference to people’s lives.
Citizens Advice Test Valley is celebrating its volunteers who dedicate their time to solving people’s problems and making a difference to their lives.
Volunteers Week is themed volunteering for all, and the charity wants to highlight the work of its team which helps people in the community struggling with debt, housing, benefit and employment issues among other issues.
The current 63 volunteers at Citizens Advice Test Valley have provided an amazing 440 years service over both the Romsey and Andover offices, with our longest serving volunteer approaching 30 years in the service. Each of our volunteers give up 6-8 hours each week and last year helped over 5,000 people with nearly 12,000 problems.
The charity’s volunteers have played a crucial role ensuring people in Romsey, Andover and surrounding area get the advice and support they need to get on with their lives.
Citizens Advice offers a wide range of voluntary roles including fundraising, advisers, administrators and trustees.
Ange Moon, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Test Valley said:
“Our volunteers make a huge difference to people’s lives.
“They give up their free time to help people in their community, who may be going through problems, to get back on their feet.
“Volunteering is for everybody and it brings its own rewards. It’s a great way to meet people and learn skills.
“If you’d like to help people in your area and can spare a few hours, we’d love to hear from you.”
Nationally, 23,000 Citizens Advice volunteers help provide support in 2,900 locations across England and Wales - helping 2.7 million people every year.
Thanks to the contribution volunteers play in local Citizens Advice, 2 out of every 3 clients have their problem solved and 4 out of 5 say the advice received improved their lives.
We are now a Third Party Reporting Centre for Hate Crime.
Hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are, e.g. because of a person's disability, race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation, etc.
It is widely accepted that hate crimes are under reported. Not all victims are comfortable with reporting their experiences directly to the police. Third Party Reporting Centres overcome these barriers by providing an alternative to directly reporting to the police. See www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk for more details.
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.