Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Subscribe to the Turn2us newsletter

The December issue of the Turn2us e-bulletin is now available.
The monthly newsletter is aimed at our intermediary users and contains information about developments in Turn2us services and our nationwide programme of intermediary workshops as well as sector news and information about forthcoming changes to welfare benefits and charitable grants.
In this month's e-bulletin you can read the results of our intermediary survey, explore the resources around benefits available on the Turn2us website and find out how to order our promotional materials.
You can read the newsletter online or subscribe to this service to have it sent directly to your email box.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ask our experts about fuel poverty

If you are you struggling with fuel bills and feel you can't afford to heat your home this winter, you are not alone. According to the latest Government figures, some 5.5 million homes in the UK will struggle with energy bills this winter.

This month, we are inviting our users to send their questions about fuel poverty to an expert panel. The panel will answer questions about the benefits and grants available to help with fuel bills; what to do if you can't pay your fuel bills and are running up arrears; and ways of improving energy efficiency to reduce your bills

Questions should be submitted via the Turn2us website by 20 December. Everyone will receive an reply and a selection of the most useful answers will be published on the Turn2us website on 22 December.

Don't forget that we are also highlighting the issue through an interactive map which gives a visual picture of the fuel poverty up and down the country. You can calculate whether the amount you pay for gas and electricity places you in fuel poverty by visiting the Fuel Poverty Map.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Google and Citizens Advice offer help on how to stay safe online

Citizens Advice has joined forces with the search engine Google to create a campaign which highlights safety on the internet.

The 'Good to Know' campaign aims to give people practical advice on how to keep their personal information secure when they use the internet.

A campaign website aimed at computer users of all levels which features information on many internet issues can be found at http://www.google.co.uk/goodtoknow

You can find the campaign's top five tips for consumers who want to stay safe online and download associated materials on the Turn2us website.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

This month's Ask an Expert session covers armed forces and veterans

The 11th of November was Remembrance Day. This is a good time to remember that people who are serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families can often face financial difficulties.

For this month's Ask an Expert session we are inviting questions from serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families about the benefits and financial support that may be available to them.

Our panel includes Alison Wyman, Benefits and Money Advice Manager and The Royal British Legion and Karen Holmes, Welfare Benefits Specialist ay Turn2us.

You will need to submit your questions by 16 November 2011. Answers will be published at the beginning of the following week.

Submit your question to our Ask an Expert  panel

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Turn2us uses interactive Google Map and Twitter to plot the spread of fuel poverty in the UK

Millions of households across the country will struggle to afford their energy bills this winter. As a result Turn2us is highlighting the issue of fuel poverty through an innovative social media campaign that encourages people to tweet the amount they pay for their utilities as a percentage of their household income. These rates are then automatically plotted on an interactive map to give a visual picture of the variation up and down the country.
A household is said to be in fuel poverty when it spends over 10% of its total income on energy bills. According to Government figures, in 2009 some 5.5 million homes across the UK were in fuel poverty and this number is likely to grow in line with rising energy bills.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: ‘Following the announcement of rises in the price of gas and electricity by fuel giants over the summer there are millions of people out there anxiously holding their breath in fear of the arrival of their energy bills. Through this campaign, we want to highlight the worrying spread of fuel poverty across the country and ensure people are aware of the support available to them."
Turn2us is encouraging people to check they are receiving all the financial support available to them this winter in the form of welfare benefits and charitable grants.

She continues: ‘In these tough economic times, it is important that people are claiming all the welfare benefits and grants that they are eligible for. Anyone can find out what financial support they may be entitled to by visiting the website and using the free, confidential and easy to use Benefits Check and Grants Search.’
You can use our fuel poverty calculator to check your energy spending and plot your results by visiting The UK Fuel Poverty Map at www.fuelpovertymap.org.uk.
The campaign hashtag is #FuelPoverty.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Usability review of our Benefit Calculator and Grants Search

Following feedback from our users and the outcomes of an independent usability review, we have revised our Benefits Calculator and the Grants Search database enquiry form.

Benefits Calculator

A review conducted by customer experience experts User Vision examined the behaviour of our intermediary users while using the Turn2us Benefit Calculator to identity possible improvements. These included:

  • a more prominent breadcumb trail to indicate progress through the process
  • dynamic links to information on claiming benefits
  • automated range checking to reduce the accidental inputting of incorrect financial data
  • a simplified system of messaging and alerts.

Grants Search database enquiry form

The Grants Search database enquiry form was reviewed using feedback from charitable funds with the aim of capturing additional relevant information from those making enquiries to increase positive outcomes. Improvements included:

  • a revision of the form’s layout
  • the expansion of the occupation and help required lists
  • additional fields to capture information about savings and the status of carers.

Both projects aimed to improve the customer journey taken by people visiting the Turn2us website. In particular, the help we give users to input the information needed to make accurate assessments of entitlement to means-tested benefits and eligibility for charitable grants.

Those who might doubt the benefit of undertaking usability testing will be interested to know that the amends to our benefits calculator have already resulted in a 5 per cent increase in completion rates.

Benevolent Sector conference

Research into the benevolent sector, commissioned by Elizabeth Finn Care and carried out by nfpSynergy, has revealed the extremely challenging financial time that the benevolent sector is experiencing in the UK's current economic situation

Last week, around 80 delegates attended a major conference to launch the findings of the study. Held in London, this was hosted by Elizabeth Finn Care, the Association of Charitable Organisations, nfpSynergy and the Directory of Social Change, and chaired by Dame Diana Brittan, Chairman of Independent Age.

Spending cuts and changes in Government policies has led to many benevolent sector charities losing statutory income. There has also been a decrease in asset portfolios and subscriptions as a result of the difficult financial situation that the UK is currently experiencing. At the same time, the demand for the services charitable funds provide is growing considerably because factors such as the current economic climate and demographics – e.g. benefits cuts, redundancies, longer life expectancy – are causing more people to need support.

However, financial stress of this kind can also provide pressure for reform, which can lead to positive and exciting developments within the sector.

Participants identified possible solutions to meeting the needs of an increased client group in the context of reduced charity income. These included sharing resources and making joint applications for funding. They also discussed ways to improve the marketing of the benevolent sector to raise public awareness of the work that it does and issues surrounding the requirement, emphasised in the Charities Act 2006, for all charities’ aims to be, demonstrably, for the public benefit.

You can read the Understanding the Benevolent Sector report here (link opens in a new window)