Finance

Domestic and General Warranty Scam

The hand holds telephone receiver above the phone

KCC Public Protection have had a report of a Kent resident being called by a company claiming to be a domestic appliance warranty provider ‘Domestic and General’

What happens

  • You are cold-called by telephone
  • The criminal knows your name, address and information on the items covered by the warranty
  • If you say that they are not your warranty provider they then attempt to unnerve you by saying they will cancel your policy

What to do

  • Hang up
  • Call your warranty provider, if you have one, on the number on your paperwork to check if you have concerns

Find out more on the Domestic and General scam

More advice and to report to Action Fraud

Please warn vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.

DOORSTEP CRIME IS FINANCIAL ABUSE

Help us prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims of doorstep crime and financial abuse. Watch the video and learn to spot the signs of doorstep crime and financial abuse. Please help to protect your family members, neighbours and friends.

We know doorstep criminals tell us our roof tiles are loose, our chimney stacks are dangerous, our trees are diseased and our driveways need jet washing.

Help keep your community safe. Report doorstep criminals as soon as you see them or tell your local Community Warden or Police Officer.

Even if you’re not sure if they are a criminal tell us anyway, we want to know.

Report it

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact
Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133
Consumer Advice scams action line on 0808 250 5050
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Kent County Council Public Protection
https://mailchi.mp/kent.gov.uk/alert-domestic-and-general-warranty-scam?e=5d620a3416

Warning about Brexit scams

Stop the Scammers

With today being the United Kingdom’s final day as a member of the EC, Get Safe Online is warning about a number of scams which will undoubtedly be perpetrated in order take advantage of changes in the law and processes. In fact, some scams have already been reported, prior to Brexit taking place.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said “Whether you agree or disagree with Brexit, it’s finally here. We know from bitter experience that fraudsters will seize every opportunity to exploit major changes like this, taking advantage of people’s uncertainty and even confusion about what it means to them.

“Our experts have put together some expert tips around some of the scams we anticipate taking place in the days and months to come, some of which are already happening. I urge you to read them and, above all, always think twice about whether approaches you receive are genuine. Checking and double-checking can save untold losses, upset and inconvenience.”

EHIC scams

An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) gives you access to state-provided healthcare if you are visiting the EEA or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. It is provided free of charge on application via an official UK government website. For more information on the status of EHIC eligibility.

It is currently not clear whether the EHIC will apply to UK travellers, a fact which will undoubtedly cause uncertainty.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020 (gov.uk)

If you consider that there are already a number of copycat websites charging for EHICs, there will certainly be an increase in illegal activity enticing consumers to pay for EHICs, or alternatively offering an ‘alternative’.

To apply for an EHIC – visit the official government or NHS website.

Passport scams

With Brexit, we expect fraudsters to take advantage of passport changes. Typically, these will involve requests or demands from scammers claiming to be from either government websites in the UK or EU – or travel companies, checking the validity of your passport. As passports are one of the main ways with which you can prove your identity, giving these details to an unauthorised party will almost certainly involve identity theft or financial fraud, or both.

HMRC scams

emails, texts, social media messages and phone calls claiming to be from HMRC have been some of the most commonplace online scams for years. They take the form of notifications that the recipient is either owed a tax refund, faces some kind of penalty for unpaid tax or failure to submit a return, or that regulations or thresholds have changed. The emails, texts and posts include links, but clicking on them can result in being taken to a convincing but fake website which requests your confidential details, or your device being infected with malware. Clicking on email attachments can have the same consequences. We expect a large crop of new fake messages fitting this description, but modified to include changes brought about by Brexit.

Businesses are also being targeted with fake HMRC communications, particularly those who trade with the EU who have been falsely told that they need to register for a UK trader number, or similar warnings.

HMRC will never ask you for your payment or personal details by email, text or over the phone, so you should treat these approaches with extreme caution. If in doubt, call HMRC on a number you know to be correct, to check if the approaches are genuine or fake.

Bogus investments

Investment scams are as old as money itself, but they have been aided by technology and fraudsters are constantly finding new, more convincing ways to perpetrate them. Brexit provides the ideal opportunity.

For example, scammers are emailing, messaging or calling unsuspecting victims to convince them that making a new investment or modifying an existing one will help to either take advantage of new, post-Brexit laws, or reduce damage resulting from the changes.

A variant of this scam arises from the fact that much UK financial services regulation is drawn from EU directives, with the result that UK banks access to the European payments infrastructure may change, causing lengthier money transfers, payments or receipts in Euros.

Never provide confidential details such as logins or the name of your bank, pension scheme provider, to people or organisations who have contacted you at random. If in doubt, contact your genuine financial services providers or IFA on the number you know to be correct.

Business scams

In the workplace, fraud is often committed through impersonation scams, where businesses typically receive an email, phone call or letter claiming to be from a supplier or subscription service, notifying of a new payment details which are actually into a fraudster’s bank account. It is possible that some will now feature Brexit as an excuse, claiming that payment details have changed because of changed banking arrangements in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Get Safe Online 31st January 2020
https://getsafeonline.org/news/get-safe-online-warns-about-brexit-related-scams/

Get Safe Online is a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors.

Save by switching

Use the Citizens Advice energy price comparison tool to see if you can save money by switching energy tariff or supplier.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Save on appliances

Turning your appliances off standby mode can save you £30 a year and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Save in the kitchen and bathroom

Save in the kitchen

  • Use a bowl to wash-up rather than running a tap,
  • reduce your washing machine use by one cycle a week, and
  • only fill the kettle with the water you need

and you could save around £36 a year in the kitchen.

Save in the bathroom

  • Spend one minute less in the shower each day and a family of four could save £75 a year on energy and water bills.
  • A dripping tap can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year, so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip.
  • A running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water every minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
  • Replacing an inefficient shower head with a water efficient one could save a household of four people around £70 a year off gas bills and around £115 a year off water bills.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Big Energy Saving Week

Despite the high atmospheric pressure we are currently experiencing the temperature is expected to remain low so we’ll all be using more energy.

We all have the power to save energy, money and the environment through everyday actions. Simple changes such as switching energy supplier or tariff, accessing discounts or grants, and making homes more energy-efficient can make a big difference.

During Big Energy Saving Week we will post some ideas that you can use to save at home.

KCC Budget

Kent County Council (KCC) provides a huge range of essential services to the people of Kent, spending over £1.5 billion each year. The government’s settlement for next year assumes modest increases in Council Tax together with some additional grants. This will mean KCC have additional funding, however, these increases are still likely to be insufficient to fully fund the rising costs of council services.

There are some big decisions ahead and KCC would value your views before setting next year’s council budget (April 2020 to March 2021).

Give us your views on the 2020-21 budget

You can read more below about council services and spending.

(more…)

Council Tax Reduction Consultation

Changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21

Coins

Ashford Bourough Council

Opens: 01 August 2019
Closes: 30 September 2019

What is this consultation about?

Each year the Council has to decide whether to change the Council Tax Reduction scheme for working age applicants in its area. This year the Council has decided that changes should be made to significantly change the Council Tax Reduction scheme. This is due to the introduction of Full-Service Universal Credit within the Ashford area. In effect the traditional link between Housing Benefit (which will no longer be available to new working age claimants, with some exceptions) and Council Tax Reduction will no longer exist. It is essential that the scheme is changed to meet future requirements, to reduce the cost of running the scheme and to ultimately prevent any additional costs being added to Council Tax.

Please note that whilst the changes are intended to reduce the level and cost of administration, the Council is not looking to reduce the total overall level of support available.

What is Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction is a discount for Council Tax and it was previously called “Council Tax Support”. The level of discount is based on the income of the household. Currently the maximum discount is 82.5% of Council Tax for working age households, 95% for working age disabled & carer households and up to 100% for pensioners.

Why is a change to the Council Tax Reduction scheme being considered?

In April 2013, the Council Tax Benefit Scheme was replaced by a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Council Tax Benefit had been funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. It supports people on low incomes by reducing the amount of Council Tax they must pay.

The Council Tax Reduction scheme is determined locally by District Councils rather than the Department of Work and Pensions. Although the Government initially provided funding for the scheme, the funding has reduced each year

People can claim Council Tax Reduction if they are on certain benefits, or in receipt of a low income. The current scheme requires all working age applicants to pay a minimum of 17.5% of their Council Tax (a maximum level of support of 82.5%). Working age disabled & carer households pay a minimum of 5% of their Council Tax. Applicants in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and Income Rated Employment and Support Allowance receive the maximum level of support. Others receive a level of Council Tax Reduction based on their income and other factors.

A separate Central Government scheme is retained for people of pension age meaning that pension age claimants are not affected by changes to the scheme. Councils are only able to vary their schemes for people of working age.

All councils are required to review their Council Tax Reduction scheme each year. If they want to make any changes they must inform the public and gather views through public consultation.

Ashford Borough Council is proposing a number of changes to its existing scheme and, in line with legislation, we have a duty to consult you and provide you with the opportunity to tell us your views on the proposed changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The Council is consulting on the following changes to its scheme for 2020/21 – these are explained in more detail later on:

  • Introducing an income ‘grid’ scheme for all working age applicants replacing the current means tested approach which was based on the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme (Change 1);
  • Limiting the number of dependent children used in the calculation of support to two for all working age applicants (Change 2);
  • Changing the claiming process for all applicants who receive Universal Credit (Change 3);
  • Removing the current earnings disregards and replacing them with a standard disregard of £25 (Change 4);
  • Disregarding Carer’s Allowance which is currently taken into account as income (Change 5);
  • Where the applicant is in receipt of Universal Credit, any amount awarded as a housing element will be disregarded when calculating the applicant’s income(Change 6);
  • Decrease the maximum level of protection for working age claimants from 82.5% to 80%, and from 95% to 90% for working age disabled & carer households (Change 7);
  • Remove the extended payments provision within the existing scheme (Change 8);
  • Provide a further income disregard of £40 where an applicant, their partner or dependant child is in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or a disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (Change 9)
  • Making all changes in circumstances which change any entitlement to Council Tax Reduction on a daily basis rather than the current (benefit based) weekly basis (Change 10);This scheme is estimated to affect 4,500 households in the borough. The gross cost of the scheme is £7.4 million which is spread across Ashford Borough Council (9%), Parish (3%), Kent County Council (73%), Fire (4%), and the Police (11%).

Who will this affect?

Working age households in the Borough who currently receive or will apply for Council Tax Reduction.

This will not affect pension age households.

Are there any alternatives to changing the existing Council Tax Reduction scheme?

We have also thought about other ways to make the process simpler. These have not been completely rejected (including maintaining the current scheme) and you are asked about them in the Questionnaire.

We have considered the following:

  1. Continuing with the current scheme
  2. Reduce funding to other Council services to pay for additional administration costs
  3. Use the Council’s reserves to keep the Council Tax Reduction scheme

Documents

Respond

Links

Celebrating funding success!

Ashford Borough Council has been awarded more than £3 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund to revitalise Victoria Park.

The funding, thanks to National Lottery players, means the council can deliver its exciting plans to redevelop and restore one of Ashford’s oldest and most-loved green spaces, working with the local community, volunteer groups and the Friends of Victoria Park.

Proposals include a new children’s play area, improvements to the river, improved lighting across the park, and a new community hub building with café, and new toilets. The iconic Grade II Listed Hubert Fountain and the surrounding piazza area will also be restored and repaired.

The council will be employing four new members of staff to manage the project, including a parks officer who will be based on site. There will also be opportunities for the community to get involved with volunteering roles as part of the project.

Almost £1.9 million will be spent on repairs and conservation of the historical aspects of the park, and another £1 million has been earmarked for new building work including access paths, signage, bridges, and dipping platforms.

Friends of Victoria Park have welcomed the success and will be exhibiting some details of the proposals at Create and Mr. Harper’s Birthday Party this weekend.

Ashford Borough Council
https://news.ashford.gov.uk/news/celebrating-funding-success/

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