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Author Archives: Oliver Domleo

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Citizens Advice reacts to Ofcom’s announcement on affordable broadband

Tags :

Category : Consumer Issues

Friday 23 July 2021

Matt Upton, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice, said:

“Broadband is essential for the way we live today. People struggling to afford it shouldn’t be penalised simply because their provider isn’t one of the few firms offering a cheaper tariff.

“The pandemic exacerbated this problem, but in reality it had already been dragging on for far too long.

“The fact that so many providers still aren’t taking responsibility for protecting lower income customers shows just how precarious it can be to rely on voluntary arrangements and goodwill. Ofcom are right to say things aren’t happening quick enough. If we don’t see action soon, the government needs to get involved.”


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CAB News 23 July 2021

How much is statutory sick pay? SSP rules and how to claim explained

Friday 23 July 2021

Our response to the government’s U-turn on Statutory Sick Pay was included in the Mirror and The Express.

National

Employment

Tories quietly ditch plans to extend sick pay to 2million more Brits

The Mirror and The Express 20/07/2021, Dan Bloom

The government has scrapped plans to extend Statutory Sick Pay to 2 million more people. Two years ago they said there was a case for removing the requirement for claimants to earn at least £120-a-week – but these reforms have now been dropped.

Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Today’s announcement is a U-turn on the government’s commitment to improve sick pay and support people on low incomes. With cases of coronavirus rising and many needing to self-isolate, it could not come at a worse time. We’d urge the government to think again. Otherwise many will continue to face an impossible choice: work when ill or fall behind on their bills.”

In related news, our Interim Head of Policy Morgan Wild was quoted in the Mail Online on a rise in people viewing our pages on self-isolation. Morgan said: “People need to hear that they are not going to lose out financially for doing the right thing.”

Trade

Energy

Smart energy appliances to be regulated

Utility Week, 20/07/2021, Adam John

The government has pledged to introduce regulation for smart energy appliances and consumer protections, as part of its smart systems and flexibility strategy. Dhara Vyas, our Head of Future Energy Services, said: “Widespread adoption of smart energy offers, products and services is an essential step on the path to net zero. But many people will struggle to use them – particularly if they are complicated or expensive. We’re pleased to see the government commit to providing support for those who need it most. It’s important that consumer protections are fit for the future, right now there are too many gaps. Government needs to put forward proposals that will help to make the transition to net zero fair and inclusive.”

Consumer

Two thirds of Britons say they have been targeted by a scammer this year – it is costing billions and HAS to stop

Daily Mail, 17/07/21, Rachel Rickard Straus

Typical online scams to look out for. | Parcelforce Worldwide

The article states that two thirds of Britons say they have been targeted by a scammer this year according to Citizens Advice. But Rickard Straus wonders “if anyone can have escaped it” as the “scourge of scammers is now so widespread.”

Regional

Universal Credit

‘The exact opposite of levelling up’ – North East groups call for Universal Credit uplift to be kept

Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 21/07/2021, Graeme Whitfield (also in print: Shields Gazette, 21/07/2021, p.5,  Newcastle Journal, 21/07/2021, p.5)

North-East local Citizens Advice offices have joined other groups in signing a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak opposing the ending of the Government’s £20 universal credit uplift. Citizens Advice Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, Darlington, Redcar & Cleveland and Hartlepool Chief Officers co-signed the letter.

The letter was mentioned on BBC Radio Newcastle (listen from the beginning).


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Back to the workplace: Your rights if you’ve been working from home

Ministers look to hybrid working after Covid rules are relaxed on 19 July

Friday 16 July 2021

With guidance to work from home set to end in England from 19 July, Citizens Advice sets out your need to knows if you’re asked to return to your normal workplace.

I’ve been working from home, can my employer ask me to return to my normal workplace?

The short answer is yes. When you enter into a contract to work for an employer you have to comply with ‘reasonable management requests’. That means your employer can ask you to return to your normal workplace if your original contract specified that you would be office-based or based elsewhere.

In practice, many employers are looking into or actively encouraging a blended working model – some time at home – some time in the office/workplace.

You can ask to keep working from home, but that doesn’t mean your employer has to agree. Start by having an open conversation with your employer about your wishes, and consider making a flexible working request, which is a legal right all employees have. You can include your reasons why working from home is better for you and will also help the business.

What can I do if I’m worried about safety measures at work?

Your employer has a legal duty under the law, and under your contract, to ensure that your workplace does not pose a risk to your health and safety. Current guidance says employers should complete a Covid risk assessment and take steps to prevent transmission, including frequent cleaning and social distancing. This is due to be updated.

While wearing a mask in an enclosed space will no longer be mandatory, employers will still be free to set their own policies or rules in place to require workers or customers to wear masks.

If you are unhappy with safety measures at your workplace, you could report your employer to the Health and Safety Executive, but ideally you and your employer can solve the issues together.

I’m uncomfortable about taking public transport, what are my options?

Your employer’s duty is limited to things that are under its control, and so there is no clear legal position about whether it has to take into account the risks you face when travelling to and from work, as part of its health and safety assessment.

That said, your employer should listen to your concerns if you’re worried about having to use public transport after being called back into work. You could reach an arrangement that you’re comfortable with, for example, asking to travel at quieter times of the day.

What happens if I need to self-isolate?

You shouldn’t go into work if you’re self-isolating because you have coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

You must tell your employer that you have to self-isolate. It’s worth telling them in writing so you have a record for later use.

If you’re unable to work from home, you may be entitled to benefits, sick pay or a self-isolation payment of £500 from your local council. If you’ve been furloughed before by your employer, you might also be able to furlough you for the period you need to self-isolate. See the Citizens Advice website for more information.

Remember that the rules on self-isolating are changing. From 16 August, if you’ve had your second vaccination, you won’t need to self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for coronavirus. If you have symptoms you’ll need to self-isolate until you get tested.

Matthew Bradbury, Employment Expert at Citizens Advice, said:

“With restrictions ending and workplaces reopening, people will understandably have questions about their rights. While you can ask to continue working from home, your employer doesn’t have to agree.

“If you have any concerns, it’s important to talk with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you.

“For more information visit the Citizens Advice website, and if you need one-to-one help contact your nearest Citizens Advice. ”