A day in the life of your local Citizens Advice
Every day brings new challenges and, while there is no 'typical' day, this narrative gives a flavour of what happens in our offices.
People from all walks of life and from all parts of the borough seek advice from Citizens Advice; their problems can be equally diverse, from eviction to disability to problems with neighbours.
Joseph and Claire, have three young children and are worried about money. Joseph is on a zero hours contract. They are concerned because there won't be enough income for the mortgage, unsecured bank loan, credit card and store card payments. The assessor gives them an overview of possible benefits they may be able to claim and directs them to the appropriate pages on our public information site. The assessor then explains about priority and non-priority debts and how these can be dealt with and after confirming that there are no emergencies, arranges an appointment for them to see a debt adviser. They are given details of what they need to take to the appointment and a contact number should they need to change it.
At the appointment, the adviser looked at how they might be able to increase their income and did a benefit check with them, explaining that because Joseph is on fluctuating income, they could make a claim for Universal Credit. The adviser then looked at Joseph and Claire's debts and discussed what creditors could do to enforce these. After drafting a financial statement with them, the adviser then discussed the various options available to Joseph and Claire based on their circumstances, and ensuring that their mortgage payments took priority over the other non-priority debts. Joseph and Claire decided to offer small payments to their non-priority creditors pending payment of Universal Credit. Joseph and Claire were advised that they could return for further help should they need it.
Mrs Jenkins is a pensioner who can't understand why she has a bill from two power supply companies. The adviser discovers that she moved supplier three months ago and the old supplier was still charging. The adviser contacted the previous supplier, stopped the ongoing charges and obtained a refund for Mrs Jenkins.
Valerie has received a Personal Independence Payment form for her adult son. She has tried to fill it in but doesn't know how to finish it. The adviser goes through the form helping her fill in the missing parts. Advice is given on her options if the claim is disallowed, including help to request a Mandatory Reconsideration and if necessary, the opportunity to be represented by a specialist adviser at a tribunal.
Other clients are helped with problems relating to changing bank accounts, credit checks, the non delivery of a three piece suite, a court hearing for mortgage arrears, child contact issues, various employment issues and a neighbour who lets his dog foul the pavement.