Strapline

The local charity for people who live or work in Wokingham

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ADVICELINE TELEPHONE: 0300 330 1189

We aim to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and to improve the policies and practices that affect people's lives.

We provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. We value diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination.

Our Wokingham office is open for drop in Assessment Service and Appointments

Monday to Thursday: 9.00am – 3.00pm
Friday: 9.00am – 1.00pm. You can also contact us by telephone or email.

Our Woodley Office is open for drop in Assessment Service and Appointments

Monday: 9.30am – 3.30pm
Wednesday: 9.30am – 3.30pm

Your local Citizens Advice needs your support

Our overall funding has been decreasing for some years and we now need to carry out more and more fundraising events. To be kept up to date with future fundraising events email us on:

event@citizensadvicewokingham.org.uk

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Click here for our Data Protection Statement

CHRISTMAS CLOSURE 2018

Both the Wokingham and Woodley offices drop in and telephone service will be closed from 24th December 2018 to 1st January 2019 inclusive.

Our amended operating hours over the holiday period are:

Friday 21st December – Wokingham office open as normal. Woodley office closed as normal.
Monday 24th December – Closed.

Tuesday 25th December – Closed.

Wednesday 26th December – Closed.

Thursday 27th December – Closed.

Friday 28th December – Closed.

Monday 1st January – Closed.

Tuesday 2nd January – Wokingham reopen at 9.00. Woodley closed.

Wednesday 3rd January – Wokingham open as normal. Woodley reopens at 9.30.

Thursday 4th January – Wokingham open as normal. Woodley closed as normal.

Friday 5th January – Wokingham open as normal. Woodley closed as normal.

Week commencing  7th January 2019 – Both offices open as normal.

We can still be contacted by email (public@citizensadvicewokingham.org.uk). Please provide as much info on your issue as possible plus your name, date of birth, postcode, house name/number, contact number and whether it is OK for us to store your information and whether it is OK for us to contact you later to ask you for feedback on our service. Please note that it may take longer than normal for us to respond.

 

IMPORTANT NOTICES

SERVICE RESTRICTION FROM 1st OCTOBER 2018

Please note that from Monday 1st October 2018 we are starting a new contract for our services from Wokingham Borough Council. As a condition of this contract we are only able to provide our services to people that live in or work in Wokingham Borough.

If you come to us and do not fit this criteria then we will signpost you to your local Citizens Advice office. This will not affect clients with ongoing issues.

Some recent case Studies

Debt

The client had mental health issues, was receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) and had significant debts (including with HMRC). She had started self-employed work and as a result her income based benefits stopped. A benefit check resulted in us helping her with new HB & CTR claims. We considered her income and expenditure and prepared a detailed, realistic financial statement in order to assess all her options. Two were identified; try to get her debts written off on the grounds of long term health issues and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence for a write off on health grounds so the client opted for bankruptcy. Whilst the bankruptcy was finalised we negotiated a hold on bailiff action. The bankruptcy completed and she successfully had over £50,000 of debt written off. The client told us that this had a positive effect on her mental health and ability to manage her day to day affairs. She is now able to maintain her self-employment and sustain a regular income.

Welfare Benefits

The client and his wife, both retired, had been receiving Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) for a number of years. Their middle-aged son lived with them. Following a review the council discovered that the son, who had previously been unemployed, had taken a job some years previously.

This led to a benefit overpayment of many thousands of pounds. The client told us that they had little formal education and that they both struggled with reading. Both had great difficulty in understanding the benefit award letters and whenever they received a revised award they would telephone the council to check how much rent they had to pay. Their knowledge of how benefits were calculated was also limited. They did not realise that the change in their son’s employment status, which they had reported, had not been taken into account by the council. We helped the client appeal against the overpayment and a tribunal decided that the client was not liable to pay back the money.

Employment

Now that clients no longer have to pay Employment Tribunal fees we find that employers are more prepared to reach negotiated settlements rather than risk a tribunal hearing. This client had worked for a national mobile phone retailer. Nearly a year after resigning, he received a letter stating that he had been over-paid by a total of £3,724. The Company claimed that he was paid for a whole month in error and that he had received sick pay he was not entitled to.

The Client was now out of work and was unable re-pay this amount. Following a detailed review of all his information and payslips by our Employment Specialist it became clear that the calculation was suspect. The specialist also felt that with a delay of a year there were grounds for disputing the validity of their claim. It was also apparent that the Client hadn’t received the correct notice pay on leaving. As a result, a counter claim for £7,200 was made on behalf of the Client. The Company rejected this and continued to seek repayment. We then threatened to escalate to an Employment Tribunal. As a result, the Company dropped its claim for repayment of £3,724 and instead paid the Client a total of £7,000.

Our clients say…

“You are my life saver! Have used you many times, staff very helpful, splendid service!”

“I think you’re brilliant! I’d recommend you to anyone”

“As soon as I walked in I felt looked after. Very professional service”

“I was very stressed, suffering with palpitations and not sleeping. As a result of help given it has totally changed my life. Cannot praise staff highly enough, everyone was really friendly, even receptionist. Superb, wanted to make donation”

“Help and advice has lifted a weight from my shoulders. Advice has given me clarity, thank you”.

87% of clients were very positive about our service

76% of clients said their problem had been resolved

86% of clients would recommend us to others


Volunteer with us

21,600 highly trained volunteers support the delivery of our work. Our volunteers come from all sorts of backgrounds and help with everything we do. Could you join them?

We are a charity. Help us to keep changing lives with advice

Without the generous support of people up and down the country, we couldn't continue the work we do.