How Citizens Advice can help if you’ve been made redundant:
Have you been made redundant – perhaps for the first time in your working life – or do you think the furlough scheme is just staving off the inevitable? If so, Citizens Advice can help you manage the situation. We can check that your employer has followed correct procedures and given you any redundancy payment you’re entitled to, and help you identify any unfair dismissal or discrimination. We can help you apply for appropriate benefits, negotiate mortgage and rental ‘holidays’, and help with budget planning. We may also be able to help you access local schemes set up to help those specifically affected by the pandemic. Even if the way ahead seems clear, it’s worth checking your status.
Examples of financial issues Citizens Advice Mole Valley have helped our clients with:
Steve* was a self-employed Director of a successful business for many years. When his business fell on hard times and began operating at a loss, his take home pay fluctuated to such an extent that he was no longer able to manage his significant credit card debts, and he faced the prospect of bankruptcy.
In the first instance we wrote on Steve’s behalf to his creditors asking them to suspend any further action and freeze interest for a one month period. We looked at Steve’s domestic and financial circumstances and drew up a financial statement to decide on the best course of action. As Steve was still taking a small salary from his business and able to manage small monthly payments on his debts, we recommended that he consider an IVA (Independent Voluntary Arrangement). We referred Steve to Planplan who provide free specialist debt management. They organised a 5 year contract with renegotiated lower, monthly payments with all of Steve’s creditors. Any monies not paid by the end of the 5 year contract would be written off.
Steve is now able to manage his money, safe in the knowledge that his debts are being repaid every month at a level which ensures he can live within his means.
Amy* is a single mum with a four year old son now living with her family. Recently her child tax credit payments were stopped because HMRC believed that Amy living with a partner and a tax bill of over £2,000.
The adviser explained which documents were needed to prove to HMRC that Amy was not living with a partner. The adviser also explained how to fill in the appeal form and also spoke to HMRC on her behalf.
While Amy waited to hear the outcome, the adviser helped Amy to obtain a grant from the Surrey Local Assistance Scheme for emergency items and get a foodbank voucher to help tide her over.
HMRC acknowledged that their decision was incorrect and was then overturned. Amy received over £600 in back dated payments and confirmation that no money was owed to HMRC.
Examples of benefits issues Citizens Advice Mole Valley have helped our clients with:
Sandra* went on a pre-authorised family holiday immediately following a period of sick leave. When she returned from holiday and discovered letters from her employer saying she had been dismissed, she was shocked and could not understand what she had done wrong. Her employer claimed she had failed to attend a disciplinary meeting and to contact them when her sick note had expired.
Our Employment Specialist helped Sandra put a case together for Unfair Dismissal making two specific points. One was that her employer had sent the dismissal letters to the wrong address. The resulting delay meant that she was unable to act in the time period specified and furthermore, she was away on a pre-arranged holiday. Secondly, she did not know she was supposed to contact her employer at the end of the sick-leave period before going on holiday. Furthermore we also helped Sandra to claim Job Seekers Allowance during the period of the case, as she had no source of income.
Following our intervention, Sandra’s employer agreed to reinstate her job and award her full ‘back-dated’ earnings. Sandra can now get back to a normal life without stress and anxiety.
Irina is Latvian and has been in UK since 2014. She rang us for advice because she found herself in a bit of a pickle – she had gaps in her National Insurance record. She been variously employed, self-employed and had a period when she was unemployed but supported by her partner. Irina also went back to Riga for 4 months in 2018 to support her mother who was recovering from an operation.
Irina now wanted to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK, but she didn’t know how to provide sufficient proof that she had lived here for more than 5 years to qualify for settled status.
Our advisers explained to Irina that she needed to prove that she had lived in the UK for 5 years in a row and for 6 months out of every 12 months during those 5 years. We guided her through ways to show evidence about her time in the UK, for example through payslips, letters from her employer, council tax bills and utility bills.
Rob* took out a secured loan on his family home some years before he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition, leaving him severely disabled and unable to work. When his wife could no longer hold down her job whilst caring for him, the couple were unable to meet the loan repayments.
Safe in the knowledge that the secured loan included Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) which would take care of the matter it was a huge shock to discover that the PPI payments had been stopped. Without warning arrears had built up on the loan and Rob and his wife were being threatened with court action to take repossession of their home.
We spoke to the creditors to explain their situation and delayed the court action. After getting proof of his employment status from HMRC we were able to reinstate the repayments and clear the arrears. Furthermore we discovered that the PPI policy had in fact been miss-sold and did not cover the full-term of the loan.
We obtained compensation for PPI miss-selling and Rob and his wife were offered a full refund. They are now able to feel secure in the knowledge that the loan will no longer cause stress and anxiety.