Universal Credit Scams
Beware of scammers claiming to be from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offering ‘government loans’. They use a victim’s personal details to apply for universal credit and an advanced payment, which is paid to the person’s bank. The scammers then charge the victims for the ‘service’. The individual does not realise what has happened until they find their legacy benefits have been stopped, and when they contact the DWP are told they have been moved onto universal credit and there is an advanced payment they need to repay as well.
The scammers are often smartly-dressed and target people at home and in public – especially outside Job Centres and in pubs.
Early access to earned income
Wagestream is a company that offers a scheme to employers that allows employees to access part of their salary as they earn it. The scheme was created to helped workers avoid high cost credit of payday loans etc. Staff are charged a fixed fee of £1.75 for each withdrawal. Wagestream makes the payment to the employee and then recovers the money directly from the worker’s next pay cheque. The employer can place limits on withdraws to ensure staff still have money coming into their accounts on payday. Wagestream is in talks with the with NHS trusts, local authorities and the Army.
Two months of ‘breathing space’ for those in problem debt from 2021
The Government has announced proposals to introduce a 60-day ‘breathing space’ period from 2021 to enable those in serious debt – defined as seriously behind on payments or having utilities disconnected in the past year – time to get advice and sort their finances. “Breathing space” gives people a fixed period of two months without fees, charges, interest or enforcement action to engage with professional debt advisers to find a long-term solution to their debts and get back on track with payments. Individuals receiving NHS treatment for mental health crisis will not need to seek debt advice during the 60-day period.
Government targets ‘shameful’ funeral plan sale tactics
The Treasury has announced proposals to regulate pre-paid funeral plans through the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) following evidence of misleading sales tactics. Under the proposals, providers who breach the regulations could have their authorisation revoked.