Complaints Citizens Advice Sandwell 22 Lombard Street West Bromwich B70 8RT
Local Citizens Advice The Manager of the local Citizens Advice centre or the Chair of the Trustee Board at the address below:
Citizens Advice Sandwell has a complaint handling procedure. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of the complaints leaflet to be either posted or emailed to you
Webchat & Non-Adviceline calls: Citizens Advice Sandwell has a complaint handling procedure. Please email email@example.com to request a copy of the complaints leaflet to be either posted or emailed to you
To contact the Citizens Advice Feedback team: 03000 231 900 firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial Ombudsman Service By post: Financial Ombudsman Service South Quay Plaza 183 Marsh Wall London E14 9SR
By phone: 0800 023 4567 – free for people phoning from a ‘fixed’ line (eg a landline at home).
0300 123 9123 – free for mobile phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 and 02.
By email: email@example.com
If we’ve let you down, tell us
We want everyone who uses Citizens Advice to be happy with the service we provide.
That’s why, if we’ve let you down, we want to hear from you – no matter how big or small the issue is.
Often, we’ll be able to put things right. And even when we can’t, knowing where we’ve gone wrong will help us do better in the future.
We promise to deal with every complaint quickly, professionally, and confidentially.
Asking the local Citizens Advice to resolve the problem
It’s important to the local Citizens Advice to know what we’ve done wrong, so we can do our best to put it right.
Don’t be afraid to speak to the Manager or person in charge of complaints. They will often be able to solve the problem right away.
If they can’t, or you’re still not happy, you can make a formal complaint.
Making a formal complaint
There are several ways to make a complaint. You can write a letter explaining what happened and send it to the address on the back of this leaflet, or drop it into the local Citizens Advice centre you arecomplaining about.
Alternatively, you can call or email the Citizens Advice Feedback team and they will pass your complaint to the right person.
Your complaint will be investigated by someone who isn’t directly involved. If it’s upheld, we’ll apologise fully – and, if appropriate, let you know what we’re doing to put things right.
We aim to respond to every complaint within eight weeks. If it’s going to take longer than this, we’ll explain why and keep you informed of the progress.
Asking for a review
If you feel we haven’t dealt with your complaint properly, or you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, you can ask us to review the decision.
Please make sure you ask for this within four weeks of receiving the decision by contacting the Feedback team. The review will be overseen by our Chief Executive.
Using an independent adjudicator
If you are still not happy with the decision, you can refer your complaint to an independent adjudicator.
An independent adjudicator is someone unconnected with Citizens Advice who will decide we’ve dealt with your complaint fairly.
If you want to progress to this stage, you must contact us within four weeks of receiving your review decision from Citizens Advice, Contact the Feedbackteam.
Contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service
The Financial Ombudsman Service provides a free, independent service for clients to solve disputes with not for profit debt advice providers.
The Financial Ombudsman Service will only step in once a local Citizens Advice has had the opportunity to investigate a complaint, so please contact the local service first.
If your complaint is about debt advice or if you were seeking advice about your credit record and you are not satisfied with the final response, or if eight weeks have passed since you first let us know about your concerns, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman to review your complaint.
We are urging the UK to start talking about money now to avoid harm to people’s overall wellbeing.
47 million adults across the UK don’t find it easier to talk money or don’t discuss at all
Look at these facts if you need anymore evidence to encourage people to
Talk about Money
Nine in ten people still do not find it easier to talk about finances during the Covid-19 pandemic or do not discuss money with anyone at all
Those who find having money conversations harder due to Covid-19 say the reason they avoid them is because their financial situation causes them anxiety or stress and they don’t want to make others worry about them
Coping with new circumstances is a barrier to talking about money. People claiming benefits or anticipating they will need to in the next 6 months due to Covid-19 are almost three times more likely to find having money conversations harder than the UK average.
So far, only 1 in 6 people say they have asked others about their financial situation because they are worried about them, suggesting there could be an opportunity for family and friends to step up in acting as money supporters for their loved ones.
However, of the minority of people who said they have found it easier to talk about their finances as a result of Covid-19, nearly a third say they do it because they feel better after discussing financial concerns.
As we rethink how we live our everyday lives in the wake of Covid-19, this is an opportunity for people to start opening up about money matters. Whether that’s with an expert, or the people closest to you, talking is a great first step towards managing financial issues and can often make things feel less daunting.
Our Super Six Tips for people to enable them to open up about their money worries during the pandemic:
Choose who you open up to – Try not to have preconceptions about who you should have these conversations with. Some people might think these are issues to keep in the family but actually some people might find it easier to speak to a professional or a colleague, or someone who may not be directly impacted by your money worries, like a friend or professional.
Create a comfortable setting – It will help if you feel as comfortable as possible and your environment can hugely affect this. You might feel more at ease chatting in a kitchen setting, taking in some fresh air as you go for a walk or at your dining room table so you can lay out and refer to relevant papers or budgets. Ensure you won’t be interrupted as this could interfere with your train of thought; put your phones on silent or if you have kids, wait till they’re asleep.
Prepare how you’re going to kick it off – Sometimes the hardest part of having a conversation is knowing how to start it. Once you’re past the first few seconds, you might be surprised by how easily the conversation flows. Build confidence by practising your opening sentence; something as simple as, “I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” or “‘I’d like to talk to you about [blank], but first I’d like to get your point of view” can really help.
Listen as well as talk – Try to make sure you go into the discussion with an open mind, being prepared to take in the other person’s point of view. Listen to each other as much as possible. Hearing one another’s standpoint in a respectful manner can make the difference between having a constructive conversation versus an unproductive argument.
Tie into the news agenda – Covid-19 is dominating news channels and will do for the foreseeable future as new schemes are announced and news on the financial effects are reported. If you see a news bulletin relevant to your situation, use this as a springboard to initiate a conversation – it’s a useful way to break the ice and remember many people are in the same boat right now.
Check in with friends and family – Once you’ve made the first step to opening up about your financial worries, you can help others to do the same. Never force someone into a conversation as they’ll only be defensive, but do remind them you’re here to chat if they need support, in person or on a call.
Community Navigator (E.U Citizens Support Project)
Must be able to speak a European Language.
Hours: 16 hours per week Fte
Citizens Advice Sandwell are delivering E.U citizens support project which provides very practical advice and hands-on support to settled migrants that may be affected by the process of the UK leaving the European Union. Community Navigators will help vulnerable individuals and families to access local services and support agencies. The Community Navigators will be able to assist with processes that may need to be completed in order for individuals and families to remain, work and be an active part of the community. Accessing services can prove extremely difficult for families and individuals who are facing the pressure, stress, and uncertainty that Brexit may cause.
We are looking for creative, resourceful, enthusiastic and empathetic individuals who have effective written and verbal communication skills. They will need to be motivated and willing to help others and work across the Sandwell Borough
Candidates must have experience of living or working in a diverse community.
Experience of supporting families /neighbours and or friends and have had or still have Involvement in community groups and activities.
There will be a requirement for candidates to be able to work on their own and also as part of a team. Candidates may also be required to work flexibly to meet the needs of individuals and families they will be supporting
This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of a great charity and an innovative project.
Salary: £16,835 pro rata per annum
Contract: Fixed Term till March 2021
Closing date: Monday 13th July 12 noon
Interview date: Friday 24th July 2020
For an Application Pack or more information (CV’s not accepted)
It Scam Awareness fortnight from the 15th June and it’s a national campaign that we get involved with every year.
This year we want to carry on with the same good messages.
Help people to recognise a Scam
Encourage people to take action and report a scam
and my favourite – Talk about Scams
Please think about how you can include this in the good work you do as well as a point of discussion with your friends and family.
I know some of you may a little jaded with me going on about Scams, so in my endeavour to jazz things up, there are a couple of YouTube clips which are good and short and an interactive quiz -( not the same one we had last year, this one has been sent to me from my son in Australia.)
So can you SPOT all the mistakes on these SCAMS?
Please Please Please take a quick look – 20 mins at the most of your time to look at all the following:
1) Youtube clip from the Illegal Money lending Team – How to Spot a Loan Shark
(not a scam I know but fits in quite nicely with our mission to help protect people )
2) YouTube clip from Friends Against SCAMS -What is a Scam, click DEAR DAVID
Pre-pandemic, we knew that people with mental health problems struggled to manage their financial wellbeing and access essential services, including financial services, water, energy, and telecoms problems and could be exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
People with pre-existing mental health problems risk their condition deteriorating as they navigate challenges without much-needed help from loved ones or professionals.
Growing numbers of people start to experience poor mental health, distress and anxiety, which could in turn lead to struggles managing money and a fear of contacting essential service providers.
Many will struggle with the double whammy of reduced income and higher bills from being at home more.
To support essential service providers and their front-line staff, The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have put together a list of eight urgent standards that organisations can adopt right now
not disconnecting people from essential services writing to customers to let them know what support is available
making it easier to get in touch remotely by increasing webchat capacity
and offering callbacks
telling customers on websites and telephone on-hold messages, things like, which documents they’ll need, what questions might be asked, how else people can get in touch and what the likely wait time is
breaking down information into manageable sections and waiting while customers write it down
helping customers stay in control of their spending by having easy to use spending caps or blocks on certain types of spending
signposting to additional support services
Please take a look at the The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (link above) and see if there is anything you can use to help the people you care for.
Hello and welcome to the first Research and Campaigns blog post!
Citizens Advice commits to campaigning on issues that affect people’s lives. Each week, we’ll be writing about a different Research and Campaigns issue and what we are doing to try to fix it. We will also give tips for what you can do if it affects you.
This week’s blog post is on Council Tax debt. Council Tax debt is the most common debt issue we see. It has risen by a third in the last 3 years.
Due to this rise, Citizens Advice launched a campaign called Council Tax Protocol. As part of the campaign, local Citizens Advice offices are working together with local councils. This is to have fair debt collection processes and stop people getting into debt in the first place. It is one of the primary campaigns we are working on here.
Are You Struggling to Pay Your Council Tax?
During the coronavirus pandemic, Sandwell Council has suspended all court action for Council related debt. This means you may get an initial letter telling you about the debt, but they will take no further action. It is important to remember that this is only during the pandemic. The council expects you to pay the debt back once the pandemic is over. The usual recovery process will then resume.
If you cannot pay your bill, you should inform the council as soon as possible and then talk to one of our debt advisers.
If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction. You can check your eligibility for Council Tax reductions or exemptions here. You can also talk to one of our generalist advisers. They may be able to determine your eligibility, and help you with an application. They can also check your eligibility for other benefits. This will be especially useful if your income has dropped recently due to the pandemic!
We do not have a face-to-face service currently due to quarantine. But you can still get advice over webchat or call our Adviceline service on 0300 330 9017 (local rates apply). Check the opening times for these services on our website.
Staying happy, healthy and safe- Missing Friends and Family Members
I have shared some great ideas that I saw on aGo Play Sandwell document
At the moment, things might feel very strange; you might be really missing seeing and being with your friends or family members who don’t live with you. But by staying safe at home, we can keep our family and friends safe too. If you are missing your friends and family, some of the ideas below might help you to stay in touch.
I have had a go at this
Make a list of your favourite friends and family phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses.
Sharing is caring: remember to tell someone that you live with about how you feel.
Write a letter, poem or rap to a friend or a family member telling them why they are a good friend/relative to you and what you miss most about not being able to spend time with them. You could also share your favourite memories of times you spent together. Parents can post letters when they do an essential shop.
Plan a list of activities that you want to do with your friends when you can see each other again.
Create a collage of photos of your friends and families; if you don’t have any photos draw them instead!
Arrange to watch things on TV or online with your friends and then call them to chat about what you thought of it on phone or gaming device.
Set up a weekly challenge (remember to stay safe online!) Create a list of activities between your friends and yourselves. Share the photos and vote for the best response. Some examples could includeA weekly bake-off challenge and then post pictures of your efforts. -A garden/home treasure hunt. Have a start-stop time and post pictures of the things you have found Have an online karaoke party Hold a book club and choose one book to read each week. Think of one question each about the book and have an online discussion. Choose a time to all visit an online zoo and then talk to one another about your experience.
Keep a journal: just a sentence or a picture a day about how you feel, what you did so you can share it with friends or family later.
Sharing memories about my family start a family tree; this is a great way to share memories of our family members, have a look at family photos (both digital and physical). Make a list of your family members and all come up with a positive thing about them and write it next to their name. You can do this with your friends on social media too. Make a keepsake box of tickets, receipts, photos, trinkets – things that make memories of your family member. Draw a picture with yourself in the middle and your family members around you write a positive thing that links you to each member.
Choose a day to have a family picnic in the garden or a carpet picnic in the house and ask your other family members to do the same and share the fun on your video phones.
What’s happening with our bank accounts and credit/store cards
The first £500 of authorised overdrafts can be interest-free for 3months (for overdrafts under £500, the entire balance will be interest-free).
Those with accounts that have an overdraft facility, who are struggling due to coronavirus, should be able to request one of these 0% overdrafts, subject to a credit score.
To be fair, many banks were offering some easing anyway, but this deletes the ‘lottery’ element. After all, no one chose a bank based on how well they’d behave in this never-imagined crisis
Please check what your bank is doing. Many have sent texts to inform us of their policies during this time.
Your credit cards, store cards, personal loans and catalogues
They all must offer a payment holiday
The FCA also proposes that all lenders will be expected to move towards offering payment holidays of up to 3mths on personal loans, credit cards and catalogue debts – so if you can’t pay, you won’t need to.
Don’t just stop payment though – you need to agree with them.
Once done, these payments aren’t allowed to hurt your creditworthiness, nor can there be any penalties or charges if you do, you can’t lose a 0% deal either
-Is it worth taking a payment holiday?
Yes if you have an emergency cash flow need, no if not. That’s especially true if the interest rate is high, as it’ll still rack up during the payment holiday, and as you’re not making repayments it can be hefty. So only do this if you need it.
– Does this apply to car finance, payday loans & other short-term credit too?
No, although I hear at least with car finance, the regulator is likely to make an announcement soon, though lenders are already required to show forbearance to customers.