NED News Adviceline: Winter 2017

I’ve just started a new job and am being offered auto-enrolment for the first time. Do I have to join the scheme? I’m worried about meeting my living costs if I do.

Even if retirement is a long way off, or you’ve got immediate costs you need to cover it’s still worth starting a pension.

They are a great way to save for the future and can offer you financial security once you’ve stopped working. They’re also good value for money as your contribution gets topped up by both your employer and the government.

If you’re worried that auto-enrolment will make it harder for you to keep up with your living costs ask your employer how much your monthly contribution will be. Then add up the cost of your monthly expenses and take this away from your income, which should include your pension’s deduction.

It’s also worth seeing if you’re able to start receiving tax credits or a benefit such as Universal Credit to help with your living costs.

You will be automatically signed up to auto-enrolment so if you want to opt out you’ll need to tell your employer. Make sure you do this within one month to get a refund on the contribution you’ve made.

For further help understanding your options contact your nearest Citizens Advice.


 

I’m planning a long holiday and have been struggling to find travel insurance for a reasonable price. I’ve found a good deal from a Facebook advert but my friend thinks it might be a scam. How can I be sure if it’s legitimate?

Your friend is right to raise the possibility that it might be a scam and you should do some research on the company before making a purchase.

Insurance is a financial product and the seller must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Check they’re listed on the financial watchdog’s register which can be viewed on its website.

If they’re not named, take your business to a different provider as the seller will not be legitimate. If they are listed, it’s still worth doing further checks on them.

A good starting point is comparing the price of the insurance deal with similar offers from competitors. Big discounts are often a tell-tale sign of a scam, but it could also be that the policy is cheap because it doesn’t provide adequate cover.

Ask for a copy of the full policy so you can check it against where you’re going and what you’re doing. If the seller won’t provide one, or says they will only give it to you it after you’ve paid, don’t give them your business.

Once you know the seller is legitimate use a secure payment method, such as a money transfer service like PayPal, to pay for the insurance. Don’t pay with a bank transfer, and don’t go ahead with the deal if they ask you to.

For further advice contact the consumer service or get in touch with your nearest Citizens Advice.


 

I am about to apply for Universal Credit for the first time, but have been told that there is a six week wait before the first payment. I’m worried that I won’t be able to pay my bills. Is this right, and is there anything I can do?

After applying for Universal Credit, there’s usually a five or six week wait before your first payment, which is explained during the application process.

Although you can’t be paid faster, there are things you can do to help tide you over.

As part of the claim process, you’ll usually attend an interview at the Jobcentre Plus.

At the interview ask if you can apply for an “advance payment” – this is a loan that will be deducted from your future benefits.

You’ll need to show how much money you need for essential bills like food and housing, and explain why the loan will protect you from serious financial difficulty – like being unable to pay your rent.

Alternatively, you can apply for an advance payment through the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.

It’s best to apply as early as possible in your claim, as you may be turned down otherwise.

If you are refused an advance payment, you can ask the Jobcentre Plus for a reconsideration. Emergency assistance may be available if you are still turned down – Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice can inform of you of your next steps.

For help with your application or more information on managing your money, contact Citizens Advice.