Friday 15 May 2020
Chief Executive Gillian Guy’s letter on shielding groups has been published by the Guardian and Independent. Our reaction to the extension of the government’s furlough scheme has also been included in the Financial Times.
Coronavirus: what if I can’t pay my rent, bills or council tax?
Good Housekeeping, 13/05/2020, Susanne Norris
Amy Hughes, housing expert at Citizens Advice offers help if you find yourself unable to pay your rent during the coronavirus crisis: “If you rent from a private landlord and you’re struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord straight away.”
“Explain the situation and ask about the possibility of more time to pay, a temporary reduction in rent, or the option to catch up on any missed payments by paying in installments. If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, it’s a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered.”
The Guardian, 14/05/2020
Chief Executive Gillian Guy’s letter on shielded groups was published in the Guardian and Independent: “The chancellor’s decision to extend furlough and offer a phased return to work is potentially a further lifeline in this crisis (Chancellor extends UK furlough scheme until end of October, 12 May). Yet we must remember that 2.5 million people in the shielded group have been told to stay at home. And they are not always receiving the support they need.
“Our frontline advisers have already seen cases where vulnerable people have been denied furlough despite working in jobs that put them in face-to-face contact with others. Government guidance is clear that anyone can be furloughed, but it’s just that – guidance. Unless vulnerable workers have a right to be furloughed if they can’t work safely, some will continue to face the impossible choice of paying the bills or protecting their health.
Can you be made redundant while on furlough?
Metro.co.uk, 12/05/2020, Lizzie Thomson
While the aim of the scheme is to retain jobs during the pandemic, employers can still make employees redundant if they are on furlough.
According to Citizens Advice, if you’re entitled to redundancy pay, it will be calculated using the amount you earned before you were furloughed. Their website offers advice on whether employees are entitled to redundancy pay and, if so, how much.
Those who have been employed at a business for longer than two years are entitled to ‘statutory’ redundancy pay. But how much will vary depending on age and length of working – this is also capped at 20 years. There’s also ‘contractual’ redundancy pay, which Citizens Advice explains is the ‘extra money your contract says you can get on top of the statutory amount.’
At risk workers must have right to be furloughed, says charity
Citizens Advice is calling for the most vulnerable workers to have a right to be furloughed if their work requires them to breach public health advice.
ITV.com reported our findings that those in the shielded group – told to stay indoors and limit contact with others – are having their health put at risk by employers not furloughing them even though they are eligible for the Government support.
A food shop employee who came to us for help said: “It’s just a catch-22. I’m damned if I work and I’m damned if I don’t go to work.
“I’m struggling to pay my normal bills and buy things like food. I’ve had to sign up to get food parcels as I just don’t have enough money.”
Dame Gillian Guy said: “The shielded group, and the people they live with, are likely to have to remain at home for longer than others.
“These are the people who need the protection of the furlough scheme the most so it’s essential they’re able to use it.”
Scam warning – how customers can reduce risk during coronavirus crisis
Daily Express, 08/05/2020, Jess Sheldon
Fraudsters are exploiting people’s fears amid a new flood of coronavirus related cyber scams, reports the Daily Express.
A cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign, lead by the National Cyber Security Centre, has been launched.
Dame Gillian Guy said: “Unfortunately scammers see these uncertain and worrying times as an opportunity to prey on people. We’re encouraging the public to report any suspicious emails to the NCSC’s new takedown service.
“Through our own Scams Action service – made up of a dedicated helpline and special tool which offer advice for people affected by online scams – we see first-hand the devastating impact these terrible crimes have.
“This initiative will help take down even more harmful sites, which means fewer victims”.
The Sunday Telegraph (£) also ran a story about scammers taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The paper said there has been a resurgence in fraudsters writing letters or cold calling people since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Scammers have taken advantage of the fact that many older people currently have limited contact with relatives who would normally prevent them from falling foul of such schemes.
Our Consumer Advice Expert, Kate Hobson, said: “If someone you don’t know knocks on your door, check their ID and verify it by calling the company they are working for after finding the contact number yourself.”
In other news