You can find information on the national Citizens Advice website, covering many different areas, including Debt, Benefits, Housing, Employment, etc. Just click the button below in the area you'd like to read more about.
It’s important that you get all the help that you’re entitled to. If you are working or unemployed, sick or disabled, a parent, a young person, an older person or a veteran, we can advise you on benefits and tax credits, as well as council tax and housing costs, and national insurance. If you are facing difficulties getting your benefits paid or have any other questions, we can help you find a way forward.
“Penny”, over 60, with multiple illnesses and disabilities, living on her own and unlikely to be able to work again, phoned our Adviceline. Her income was £64/week. Despite being very sedentary, she told us she put the heat on as little as possible due to her lack of money. We could see immediately that she was highly likely to be eligible for disability and work capability benefits that could bring in an extra £150 to 200 each week, but that she needed expert support to help her make the claim. We estimated that this would constitute at least 5 hours work from an adviser, and were able to get her the help she needed.
Have you bought something and need to return it? Can’t go on the holiday you’ve booked for no fault of your own, but not sure whether you’re entitled to a refund? Received a poor service? Think you’ve been scammed? Our advisers are here to help you get through the small print to understand what your rights are.
“Milena” first approached us via a support worker in March 2020 about a concern of inappropriate lending. “Milena” is vulnerable and likely to be a victim of financial abuse. She was lent over £15,000 in 2019 despite having an income only from Universal Credit. We listened to the recording of the exchange with the lender, and found the bank's checks and procedures to be wholly inadequate. Following an approach to the Financial Ombudsman, the bank has now agreed to write off the debt. They didn't refund payments already made as they felt the client had had some benefit from the money. A great result brought about by the determination and persistence of the caseworker at Citizens Advice Oxford.
Debt and money
Dealing with money issues can be daunting. It is easy to lose out or to get in debt if you are unsure how finances work, such as paying interest on a loan, or using buy now, pay later schemes. We can help you make the right choices, including how best to deal with your debt problems, avoid losing your home and get your finances into shape.
Having a job is an essential part of most people’s lives. Whatever job you do, it is important to know what your rights are. If you’re facing issues with your employer, or are not sure that they are meeting all their obligations to you, ask us.
Relationship issues, child maintenance, death and wills, separation – these are all areas that can be extremely stressful, especially if you have not had to face them before and don’t know where to start. Our advisers are trained to provide impartial and confidential advice across the full range of issues that affect families, whether it be couples or children, financial matters or educational.
Navigating the NHS can be tricky with challenges ranging from trying to find out what you’re entitled to from the NHS to how to complain if the service is poor. Our advisers are trained to help you with these issues and if we can’t help, we can direct you to other specialist agencies who can provide you with help and more detailed information.
“David", a 64-year old, was referred to the Oxfordshire Specialist Advice Service (OSAS) soon after he came out of hospital following three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. “David” is now housebound and struggling to make ends meet. Despite already having had an active Universal Credit claim, he was not receiving any income above the basic Housing Element. OSAS challenged the Job Centre directly about this - and it was found that some historic sanctions should have been removed some time ago. “David” received an immediate back payment of £1,500 directly into his account.
We are still looking to recover more money for “David” and are investigating whether the sanctions were correctly applied in the first place. Another back payment is likely. In the meantime, we are assisting him in being reassessed for the Disabled Element, and we would expect “David” to fit the Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity criteria, making him £342 better off each month. We also completed a PIP2 form over the telephone during lockdown, which involved lots of emails with the GP and suitable medical evidence being obtained and shared with the DWP. “David” should meet the threshold for the Enhanced Rate for both Mobility and Daily Living, making him £151 better off each week. We also successfully applied for a Charitable Grant of £200 for to assist “David” during the lockdown as he was with the bills, whilst awaiting the outcome of his PIP application. “David ”will be £11,956 better off each year; and also received £1,700 in one-off payments straight away.
Living in a city with some of the most expensive rentals and properties in the UK, housing is an issue for many people in Oxford. In particular, if you’re renting or living in council property, you need to know your rights and responsibilities. We can advise on handling problems with your landlord and help to avoid losing your home. Or if you’re paying a mortgage, you could find yourself threatened with eviction if you can’t cope with your mortgage payments. We can provide information on how to rent or buy a home, or just find somewhere to live.
Issues with immigration can range from applying for settled status or residency, information about visas, dealing with the Home Office, and citizenship.
Law and courts
You can find out more about your rights, as well as what to do if you face discrimination, need legal advice or have to go to court without a lawyer. We also work in partnership with a number of legal providers in Oxford, and may be able to refer you to them if we are unable to find a way forward for you without professional advice.