Trying to Avoid the Christmas Rush?
During the build up to Christmas we have lots to do, and the last thing anyone needs is a problem when they’re buying presents. Follow these tips to make your Christmas buying and returning easier.
Making it easier to take gifts back after Christmas:
When you’re buying a gift, it’s useful to ask the shop to give you a gift receipt – something in writing which shows it’s a gift. This will make it easier for the person who gets the gift to return or exchange it, rather than you having to take it back. But if you buy something using your credit or debit card you’ll need to take it back yourself if the gift’s returned, for any refund to go on your card.
The retailer doesn’t have to take unused goods back by law, but they do for a limited time after the purchase if they have a returns policy. They might also allow returns as a gesture of goodwill. It’s helpful to keep the receipt or online order details to give to the person who’ll be returning the gift.
If you buy online just before Christmas, you have a legal right to cancel within a fourteen day cooling-off period, unless it’s a bespoke item or made to measure. This also applies if you buy over the phone or by mail order. Check the terms and conditions before you order to see how long you have to change your mind. The right won’t apply when you buy goods that deteriorate quickly; where you buy from a private individual rather than a business; or for a CD, DVD or software and you break the seal on the wrapping.
If you buy a present online, give yourself plenty of time, just in case there are delivery problems. Read the small print so you know whether the gift can be returned later on if it’s unwanted, and check expected delivery dates.
Make sure you buy from a reputable online company and that you buy from a secure site. Check the web address begins with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
Using a credit card where purchases cost more that £100 will give you extra protections in most cases.
Gifts ordered online, over the phone or by mail order must be delivered within 30 days, unless you agree a different delivery date with the retailer. If a present isn’t delivered on time you can cancel the order or agree another delivery date.
If your gift doesn’t arrive or arrives late, you may be able to claim compensation, but you’ll need to read the small print first – if the terms and conditions say that delivery dates are estimated or may vary, you may not be able to.
Don’t forget to leave plenty of time in case the weather takes a sudden change for the worse!
To claim compensation, write a letter of complaint to the retailer and ask them to compensate you. Tell them why you think you should be compensated and provide proof of your losses.
If the gift is lost during delivery, the retailer is responsible. If they can’t find your goods, you can ask for a refund or replacement.
The Citizens Advice service runs the national consumer help line so if you need any further advice phone 03454 04 05 06. There is also lots of advice about all of your consumer rights available from the Citizens Advice national website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
You can get more information about your local Citizens Advice by phoning the Greater Manchester Advice Line on 0300 330 1153, Monday to Friday 10 to 4pm. Don’t forget, we’re here to help you about any advice you need over the holiday period.
And of course, Merry Christmas from Salford Citizens Advice!
For more details of our service visit our website at: www.salfordcab.org.uk
The rollout of UC Full Service across Salford has been postponed until September 2018. Further details on recent announcements on Universal Credit follow:
Universal Credit replaces legacy payments with a single monthly payment – merging six benefits into one. It ensures people are better off in work by gradually reducing the benefit payment as earnings increase, so claimants will not lose all their benefits at once, as they would in the old system.
People are moving into work faster and staying in work for longer under Universal Credit. Universal Credit claimants are more likely to be in work within six months than compared to claimants in similar circumstances on the old system. When fully rolled out, Universal Credit is expected to boost employment by around 250,000 – this equates to an average of nearly 400 jobs in every constituency in the UK.
Universal Credit is performing well: the vast majority of claimants now receive their first payment on time. Uptake of advances has increased and they are providing support to claimants in the first few weeks of their claim. We are introducing Universal Credit gradually. Of the total number of households that will eventually move onto Universal Credit, 9% are currently receiving it and this will increase to 12% by February 2018.
As we roll out Universal Credit, we are constantly improving how the system works. The recent announcements offer a balanced package of improvements which puts more money into claimants’ hands earlier and addresses all of the issues claimants face at the beginning of their claim.
Abolishing waiting days
Much comment has focused on the initial seven ‘waiting days’. From February 2018, we are removing the seven-day waiting period for new Universal Credit claimants, reducing the length of time claimants might wait to receive their first full payment.
In Universal Credit claimants are entitled to an advance of up to 50% of the first month’s payment – with the following six months’ payments adjusted to account for this.
From January 2018, we will be changing the system so that new Universal Credit claimants will be offered an advance of up to 100%. In practice, this means that new claimants in December can already receive an advance of up to 50% of their overall entitlement, and may receive a second advance to take it up to 100% in the New Year. Taken with the first payment, this means that claimants in need could receive nearly double the money they would usually get.
We will also be making all payments of advances recoverable over 12 months – if this is what claimants want, regardless of the level of the advance claimed. In addition, from spring next year, we will be making it possible to apply for an advance online – further increasing accessibility for those who need it.
It is worth noting that a self-service advance will be made available from spring 2018, where claimants can request an advance from their online account.
Support with housing costs
Nearly all of the most vulnerable claimants currently receive Housing Benefit. So claimants who were previously receiving Housing Benefit will receive a transitional payment – an extra two weeks support worth on average £233 per claimant – when they move to Universal Credit. This will be unrecoverable, automatic and received early in the first assessment period.
We will also be issuing new guidance to staff to ensure that claimants living in the private rented sector whose Housing Benefit was previously paid directly to landlords are automatically offered this option when they join Universal Credit.
Alternative Payment Arrangements for Landlords
From December 2017, new guidance will be issued to staff to ensure that claimants in the Private Rented Sector, who have managed payments to landlords for their legacy Housing Benefit, are offered this option when they join Universal Credit, provided the relevant criteria continue to be met. This gives additional continuity to claimants when they join Universal Credit.
Temporary accommodation housing support
Currently local authorities see a funding shortage when they place people into temporary and emergency accommodation as they could only recoup around 50% of the cost from Universal Credit. This housing support will be increased to 80% of their expenditure on temporary accommodation.
Providing budgeting help
Finally, those claimants who have difficulty managing their finances can currently qualify for help under the Universal Support scheme, delivered by Local Authorities. We are also exploring with Citizen’s Advice the scope for greater collaborative working to help claimants locally as they move to Universal Credit, and hope to be able to offer an update on this in due course.
Helping claimants progress in work
In addition to these measures, the Government has allocated £8m over four years to conduct a suite of tests and trials to support development of the evidence about what works to help people progress in work. This includes women whom are returning to work and those whom are in insecure work.
Universal Credit Re-profile
To allow all the policy changes above to be implemented, from December 2017 the Live Service will no longer take any new claims. If not living in a Full Service area, claimants will be asked to claim legacy benefits or tax credits. The gateway direct for new claims for families with more than 2 children onto legacy benefits will also be extended until January 2019. To complete the necessary system changes for the Universal Credit Full Service, our roll out schedule will now be completed by December 2018. Details on this are being circulated separately.
This is a comprehensive and wide-ranging package worth £1.5 billion. It is significantly more generous than reducing the UC payment to one month. In terms of cashflow, our package of reforms mean that under Universal Credit, by the time of their first payment, a single claimant aged over 25 receiving housing support in the private rented sector can receive just over £1200, including their advance. By contrast, the equivalent claimant in JSA would receive just £700.
We must not forget that the support we give people is about more than just money. It is about the help we give people to get into work, to stay in work, and stand on their own two feet. That is what Universal Credit is about – and it will change our welfare system for the better.
• Please see below copy of the letter which has been sent to Local Authorities.
• Please find the link to the Budget / Secretary of State statement press release and rollout schedule from Gov.uk<http://Gov.uk>:- https:
Are you claiming Universal Credit?
Have you remembered to claim Council tax reduction as this is not included in your claim for Universal credit?
If not you should apply as soon as possible – even before you get a decision on Universal Credit – as claims for Council tax reduction cannot be backdated and you may be missing out on benefit you are entitled to.
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Citizens Advice Salford is independent and provides free, confidential, impartial advice to everybody in the Salford area regardless of race, gender, sexuality or disability. More About Citizens Advice Salford