Category: News

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Citizens Advice South Hams seeking new trustees to steer it through next 3 years

Every year Citizens Advice South Hams helps thousands of local people with the problems
they face. 2020 is providing unprecedented challenges for the team that has continued to
facilitate residents in dealing with issues resulting from the pandemic. Vice Chair of the
charity, Chris Peach says: “I’m immensely proud to volunteer for this charity which serves
the needs of local people. Our team of paid and volunteer advisers have coped fantastically
well with massive surges in demand throughout the lockdown. Whereas at first, we
experienced demand for help with employment issues, universal credit and other welfare
benefits, we are now bracing ourselves in the coming months for an expected significant
increase in demand for debt advice”.

To help lead the charity in setting and meeting its strategic goals the charity is recruiting
trustees to join the executive board. The role of a trustee is a voluntary one to guide and
support the charity’s development and future direction, requiring a commitment of around
10 hours/month. Trustees ensure that the charity is professionally managed and that
resources are utilised effectively. They are expected to attend at formal meetings once a
month and lead on designated aspects of the charity’s operation.

Janie Moor CEO of Citizens Advice South Hams says, “We are actively seeking people with a
passion for our work, whilst at the same time strengthening the skills of our trustee board.
In particular we are seeking someone with fundraising experience and also someone who
could help shape our digital strategy. If you are interested to know more please do get in
touch. We are an equal opportunities organisation and particularly welcome applicants
with a disability or from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.”

This year Citizens Advice South Hams has been honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for
Voluntary Service.

Anyone interested to know more about the role should initially contact Janie on
trustees@southhamscab.org.uk to arrange an informal chat. More information can be
found on https://southhamscab.org.uk/about-us/

Stop Loan Sharks!

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is helping to break the cycle of borrowing from loan sharks and supporting victims caught in their trap, on its brand-new podcast; Your Money and Your Life.

In this episode, the IMLT tackle some of the misconceptions surrounding loan sharks by explaining who they are and how they operate.

To report a loan shark call the 24 hour helpline 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk

Job Opportunity – Communications and PR Officer

Citizens Advice South Hams has an exciting job opportunity.  Join our dynamic, forward-looking charity as a Communications and PR Officer.

For full details of the role please click HERE

To download an application form please click Here

The closing date for applications is Friday 28th August 5pm.  Completed application forms should be sent by email to Janie Moor, Chief Officer janiemoor@southhamscab.org.uk

Advice on Coronavirus and childcare

I’ve been called back to work, but my child’s school isn’t reopening. What are my rights?

If you’re struggling to juggle childcare and work you have a number of options.

Firstly, the government has said that if you’re unable to work due to childcare responsibilities, your employer can continue to furlough you using the Job Retention Scheme.

If your employer will not keep you on furlough, you can ask to work more flexibly, such as at different times or for fewer hours.

Alternatively, you could ask for ‘indefinite unpaid leave’ until you are able to work again.

It is important to talk through any concerns with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you.

If your employer says no to the options above, and if you are a member of a trade union, they will be able to help you to raise your concerns with your employer.

You can find further help and advice at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Advice on Coronavirus and pregnancy

I’m pregnant and worried about returning to work, what can I do?

It is understandable that you have questions about how they can safely get back to work.

If you’re pregnant, current public health advice says you should minimise contact with other people outside of your household.

Employers are allowed to furlough people for any reason arising from the coronavirus pandemic, so this could include protecting pregnant workers.

There are also pre-existing, pre-coronavirus protections for pregnant women where the workplace poses a risk. This could mean being offered suitable alternative work or suspension on full pay if no alternative risk-free work is available.

It is important to talk through any concerns with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you, and allows you to feel safe if you return to work. If you are a member of a trade union they will be able to help you to raise your concerns with your employer.

You can find further help and advice at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Look out for our next column when we focus on returning to work and childcare

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Advice on shielding and work

I’m in the shielded group. Do I have to go back to work if my employer asks?

If you’re in the ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ group, also known as the shielded group, the public health advice currently remains that you should stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact.

Employers are allowed to furlough people for any reason arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including protecting employees’ health.

If you’re unable to work from home, ideally, your employer will furlough you for as long as public health advice deems it necessary. If not, you may have rights under the Equality Act 2010. This would help protect you from discrimination.

It is important to talk through any concerns with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you. If you are a member of a trade union they will be able to help you to raise this with your employer.

If you’re in the shielded group and have been denied furlough, you can find further help and advice at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Look out for our next column when we focus on returning to work if you are pregnant

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Advice on Part time furlough

I am currently furloughed from my full-time job, but my employer has asked me to return to work on part-time hours rather than full time. Can they do this?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will allow furloughed workers to return part time from August. Further details about how this will work are expected within the coming weeks. It is worth keeping an eye on GOV.UK for further announcements.

Until then it’s not clear what the rules are if you are asked to go back to work on reduced hours.

You could try to negotiate a satisfactory solution with your employer, such as fewer employees returning to ensure they can have full-time hours, or you could ask to remain on furlough until the details are clearer. If you are a member of a trade union they will be able to help you to raise this with your employer.

You may also need to ask to remain on furlough in order to follow public health advice, for example if you’re shielding, or if you need to stay at home to look after children.

For further help and support visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Look out for our next column when we focus on shielding and returning to work.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Advice for returning to work

I work in retail and my company says it’s starting to look at how we might reopen later in the summer. This is making me so anxious, even though I don’t have any special health issues. I’m going to wear a mask, but not all the customers may do so. I used to take the bus to work, I don’t have a car and I think it’s too far to cycle. And I’m not even sure if my kids will be back at school by then! The thought of returning to work is keeping me awake at night. Do I have to go back to work?

It’s understandable that you’re feeling anxious. However, the short answer to your question is yes, you do need to comply with any reasonable management request to return to work.

The key here is “reasonable.” The government has published specific guidance for different businesses on the steps they can take to minimise coronavirus transmission. If you don’t think they’re complying, or are putting your health at risk, you should talk to them about this. If you are a member of a trade union, you can also raise your concerns with them.

Similarly, your employer should listen to your concerns about using public transport. You could, for instance, ask to travel at a quieter time of day.

The government has said that if you’re unable to work because of childcare issues your employer can continue to furlough you.

We would suggest approaching this as a problem that you and your boss can solve together. But if you do get a bad reaction, you could report your employer to the Health and Safety Executive. You should also get advice about your legal rights in this situation.

For further help and support visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Look out for our next column when we focus on the furlough scheme.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Scams Awareness Fortnight 2020

Our annual Scams Awareness campaign aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they spot a scam.

This year’s campaign will take place over two weeks, from the 15-28 June. We’ll be focusing on raising awareness of the scams that have emerged as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more information.

Scams can affect anyone, so it’s important to know how to spot one. Check how #ScamAware you are on our new quiz. https://bit.ly/37go0r6

Scams Awareness Fortnight 2020 South Hams CAB

Private Domestic Renters Rights to a Warm Home

Citizens Advice South Hams reminds landlords of domestic rental property, of the fast approaching deadline to make sure they meet requirements for minimum energy efficiency standards. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) legislation was introduced in 2015 and it governs efficiency in buildings with tenancies. From 2018 landlords were prohibited from granting new tenancies for properties with an EPC rating below E. From 1st April 2020, all existing tenancies which require an EPC will need to have a minimum E rating
Local authorities will enforce compliance and non-compliant landlords could face a financial penalty of up to £4,000.

Nick White of the local charity Citizens Advice South Hams says, “The law is changing soon and, if they haven’t already, landlords of private domestic properties must take steps to make sure that homes they rent are energy efficient. By April 2020 any landlord who owns a property with an EPC rating of F or below will no longer be able rent it out to a new tenant or renew an existing contract. Energy inefficient domestic properties, will no longer be able to be lawfully rented. The rentability of their property will be severely affected and if they receive a penalty for noncompliance the rateable value of their property could be increased.

Citizens Advice South Hams can also provide help and support to anyone struggling with heating costs or keeping their home warm, comfortable and healthy. We can advise anyone who suspects their home isn’t compliant with the new Energy Performance Ratings (EPC). And we have a home visiting service to help residents tackle situations such as draught or damp and mould, bills being too high for no apparent reason and heating systems that don’t work or are broken. In some cases residents may be eligible for funding of up to 100% towards energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, upgrading electric storage radiators and new boilers.”
To contact Citizens Advice South Hams Energy Team call 01803 659733 and leave a message, an adviser will ring you back or email  energy.advice@southhamscab.org.uk

Advice for Dealing with Coronavirus

Following the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the UK – including in Devon – Citizens Advice is asking members of the public to consider using our phone service where possible instead of coming into our offices on drop-in days. However our offices are still open as usual so if you already have an appointment booked with us, you should still come in.

You can also contact us by phone on 03444-111444 Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 4pm. Calls are charged at your normal rate.

For more information click here.

 

Advice for Dealing with Coronavirus South Hams CAB

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Your service was invaluable again. I have always felt you are there when I have needed help and it is a huge reassurance that an organisation like yours exists.

Michael – November 2021

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