MONEY – SUPPORT, ADVICE and INFORMATION
Anyone identified by the NHS as being extremely vulnerable should have been told where they can access support, through a website and telephone number. If you think you fall into this category but have not been contacted, you should get in touch with your doctor or hospital specialist. If you have received a letter, register here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Details on urgent need through to more general help and advice:
IMMEDIATE, URGENT SUPPORT by phone or online
Lambeth Vulnerable Help Line
If you need immediate food support, phone Lambeth Vulnerable Help Line 020 7926 2999 which is open between 8am and 8pm every day. You can speak to someone who will discuss how best to help you and who can organise for you to very quickly receive a free food parcel which will be delivered direct to your home. There is also the online form: Lambeth Vulnerable Online Help Form here - which won't be quite as quick.
If you need urgent help and something goes wrong when you contact Lambeth, please contact your local Covid-19 Volunteer Group, find their details here: www.norwoodforum.org/community. They will do their best to help you.
SUPPORT if your need is less urgent
The Lambeth Council website has a lot of information on how to find help and support: www.lambeth.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/get-support-for-yourself-or-a-vulnerable-person
Centre 70 can also help with a wide range of advice. You cannot visit them in person.
Contact details: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, phone: 020 8670 0070
List of their free advice: centre70.org.uk/advice/ which includes: housing, benefits and debt,
List of Coronavirus related information: centre70.org.uk/useful-contacts/
USEFUL ADVICE for everyone
Age UK (not just for the elderly) have a huge online resource: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/, and this specific information and advice that is useful to everyone:
Banks, Building Societies and Post Offices
These have all been listed as essential services and so are not required to close under the latest directive from the Government. Where a branch closure is necessary due to coronavirus, there should be information on the nearest open branch on posters put up in the window or on their website, such as an online branch finder.
Post Office Card Account (POCA)
You can request a second card with a separate PIN to allow one other named person, called a Permanent Agent, to withdraw money from your account. To nominate someone, fill in a ‘Permanent Agent Form’ (form P6163), which you can get from your local Post Office or call the helpline on 03457 22 33 44. Once you have nominated someone, they’ll have full access to your account through their own card and PIN so make sure you choose someone you trust completely.
Post Office cheque encashment service
To support vulnerable customers who have a bank account, the Post Office is expanding its cheque encashment service which allows such a person to ask a nominated friend or family member to cash a cheque at a Post Office on their behalf. You must first ask your bank about this service and if approved, your bank will notify the Post Office and tell you how to use the service.
You can request a ‘third-party mandate’ which allows someone you trust to access your account. Some banks and building societies will only permit temporary third-party mandates to be put in place on rare occasions, while others may allow you to put in place a permanent arrangement. You may be able to limit what the third party can do, for example, only having the ability to access information, withdraw restricted funds, or check balances. To find out more, ask your bank or building society.
Note, if you need someone to be able to operate more than one account for you, or you need someone to manage your financial affairs on a more long-term basis, see factsheet 22 Arranging for someone to make decisions on your behalf www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/ageuk/documents/factsheets/fs22_arranging_for_someone_to_make_decisions_on_your_behalf_fcs.pdf>, such as setting up a Power of Attorney or a benefit appointee.
Make your bank account a joint account
All banks give you the option to add another account holder to your account. The second account holder is given access to the whole account and receives their own card and PIN number. Although joint accounts can be useful, there are a number of risks you should consider:
- Each person can access all of the funds in the account, write cheques, or apply for an overdraft.
- It is not possible to set limits on what each holder of a joint account can do.
- Both you and the additional account holder are liable for paying back debts on the joint account, such as an overdraft.
Credit reference agencies
May create a financial association between you and another account holder. If either one of you has debts, it could affect the other’s ability to take out a loan or make a big purchase in the future.
Transferring money to another account
Transferring money from your account to another person is relatively easy and allows you to move lump sums without giving anyone access to your account. You are in control of how much money you hand over. This can either be done via online banking, at your local branch or by phoning your bank to ask them to transfer money.
For either route, you must:
- identify yourself, and your account, using the security system that has been set up
- give the account holder’s name you will transfer money to, the name of their bank, their six-digit sort code and eight-digit account number
- give the exact amount of money you want to move to the other account.
Age UK advises older people to never hand over money, bank details or bank cards to someone they do not know who is offering to help them, or at least until a receipt has been given to them itemising what has been spent.
If you need someone to help you to withdraw cash or do your shopping, it might seem the most convenient way is to give them your bank card and PIN number to use. But your PIN should always be kept secret, and by giving it to somebody else, you risk losing your fraud protection and becoming a victim of financial abuse.
If you are having difficulty paying for services, such as shopping at this time, again there are some other options you may wish to explore:
Paying someone by cheque
- You could reimburse someone who has paid for goods or services on your behalf by writing them a cheque. This allows you to give money to another person without giving them access to your bank details.
- However, there will be a delay between when the cheque is banked and when the money clears into the other person’s account – so this may not be suitable if the person needs the money before they shop or very soon afterwards.
- If you are reimbursing somebody by cheque, ask to see the receipts first. You should never sign a blank cheque, even to a close family member or friend
Use a pre-paid card
Pre-paid cards are similar to a mobile phone top-up card – you can put money on the card using PayPoint (look for the PayPoint sign in shops), at Post Offices, by cheque, over the telephone, online, or, less commonly, by bank transfer. Some cards are scheme-badged, which means they can be used anywhere that accepts a particular brand of card, such as Visa or MasterCard, so they can be as convenient as having a debit or credit card. Be aware that some cards do not allow withdrawals at cash points.
Some pre-paid cards let you ask for a second card to give to a friend, family member or someone else. The second card will be issued with its own PIN number, so you can monitor who has used it. However, there are a number of drawbacks. Pre-paid cards can be expensive to maintain. Charges vary but may include transaction fees for depositing and withdrawing money, monthly management fees, penalty charges for not using the card on a regular basis and high charges for calling the call centre. No interest is paid on money held on the card. Many pre-paid cards will have a minimum refund amount, so if you decide that you want to close the card and get the value refunded, you may be unable to if you have less than a certain amount (for example, £10) remaining on the card. For more information about pre-paid cards and the best currently available, see www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/prepaid-cards www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/prepaid-cards
Use gift vouchers
You could buy gift vouchers for the stores where you shop most frequently, for example, major supermarkets or other high-street chains. These can usually be purchased over the telephone or online and can then be handed to carers, friends or family to make purchases on your behalf. However, remember your gift vouchers may have an expiry date, meaning the voucher becomes valueless after a certain date. Some retailers may not allow you to spend small balances that remain on the gift voucher, so the person using it would need to spend the full amount displayed on the voucher.
Using ‘contactless’ to pay for goods
If you give someone your card to pay for goods, they may be able to use the ‘contactless’ service so there is no need to give them your PIN. For more information about this and to check if your card can make contactless payments, see here www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk/contactless_consumer/what_is_contactless.asp.
Note, since 1 April 2020, the maximum amount for contactless payments is £45. If the total payment is more than this, you could split the payment into two smaller amounts (for example, £60 could be paid in two £30 contactless transactions).
Giving someone your bank card
If these alternatives are not possible you may wish to give your bank card and PIN number to someone so they can withdraw money for you or to buy shopping for you.
Make sure you know the process for cancelling your card if anything goes wrong or it gets lost. There should be a phone number on the back of the card to call in case your card is lost or stolen. If you are asking someone to withdraw cash for you, ask them to get you a printed-out receipt from the cash point as evidence of how much they withdrew.
If you are giving your card to someone to buy food for you, Age UK recommends writing a shopping list and estimating how much you would expect it to cost, so that both you and the person who is doing the shopping understand how much it is expected to cost. Ask the person doing your shopping to get a receipt, so that you can see how much they have spent.
When they return your card to you, check recent transactions either on-line or by telephoning your bank to ensure they match what the person has told you. It may take a day or two for some transactions to show up but any cash withdrawals should be apparent immediately.
Sometimes it is easier to check your balance than the full transaction history for your account, so you could check your balance before giving your card to someone and then after. If the difference is more than you are expecting, you could then query this with your bank. With some cards (particularly pre-payment cards) you can view transactions as they happen via an app on your phone.
Note that just because a card has been returned to you, it doesn’t mean someone can no longer use your account. If they have copied the details from your card, these can be used at most on-line retailers without your PIN number so you should be checking your account for a period after and contact your bank to cancel the card immediately if you identify any unexpected payments.
Banking Security and Fraud - including identity theft
Looking after your money