The Coronavirus pandemic has been the major focus of our research and campaigns work. We saw at first hand its far-reaching impact on our clients through employment, benefit, health, housing and family and relationship issues. Citizens Advice West Berkshire (CAWB) provided evidence on the impact of the Coronavirus to national Citizens Advice and to local decision-makers, which secured improved coronavirus support for local residents from government and local authorities:
- Improvements to the furlough scheme
- A £20 per week increase in Universal Credit and Tax Credits
- CAWB played a key role in schemes to help residents obtain essential household goods and essential supplies
Keep the Lifeline
Citizens Advice is a member of the Keep the Lifeline coalition of over 50 charities, which is calling on the government to make permanent the increase of £20 per week to Universal Credit and Tax Credits. In 2020, the Keep the Lifeline coalition persuaded the government to extend the £20 increase for an additional 6 months, which made a huge difference to 16 million Universal Credit claimants. At CAWB we have seen the real difference that the UC increase has made to our clients and their families, worth some £1040 per year.
Each year Citizens Advice take part in a national Scams Awareness campaign jointly with the Institute of Trading Standards. Locally, CAWB works with West Berkshire Council’s Trading Standards Service. Our aim is to create a network of residents who know how to spot a scam, how to report scams and the actions to take if they have been scammed. We work with local media, community groups and decision-makers to spread the scams awareness message.
The National Audit Office estimates that individuals lose £10 billion a year due to online scams alone. In 2021, the Scams Awareness campaign’s focus was on financial scams, which have increased massively during lockdown. At CAWB we have seen clients who have lost tens of thousands of pounds to investment scams. To avoid financial scams:
- Don’t respond to anyone contacting you out of the blue offering a pensions review, or an investment opportunity
- Seek advice from a registered Independent Financial Adviser if you are looking to invest money
- Always check if an investment company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority at fca.org.uk
- If you have lost money to scammers report it immediately to your bank and to Action Fraud actionfraud.police.uk
Advice on Scams
For advice on scams you can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or visit our advice pages
If you have been a victim of an online scam, you can get advice at Citizens Advice Scams Action on 0808 250 5050 or via web-chat