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Advice Column

Advice Column

“I love live music and now that Covid restrictions have lifted, I’ve booked tickets for some gigs over the next few months. I’m still a bit worried - what happens if restrictions come back in?”

Everyone is adapting to the “new normal”.  Knowing your rights will help you deal with anything unexpected.

If you’ve got tickets to an event which goes ahead, but you change your mind about going or realise you’re no longer able to go, you have no legal right to a refund.

However, if the event is cancelled, your right to a refund will depend on how you bought the ticket.

If you booked through an official seller and the organiser cancels, moves, re-schedules, or makes the event behind closed doors, you should get a refund.

This is true even if it’s cancelled due to a government ban on large events. If this happens, contact the official seller to find out how you can get a refund.

Beware of ticketing scams

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Buy tickets from the event promoter, venue box office, official agent or a reputable ticket exchange site or app.;
  • Where possible,  pay for tickets using a credit card as this offers additional financial protection;
  • Be suspicious of requests to pay by bank transfer;
  • If the retailer is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) you have additional protection if something goes wrong. Check out their website for more advice:

My Universal Credit has been cut by £20 a week - how do I help my family to cope?

I’m a single parent and lost my job during the pandemic. Citizens Advice helped me apply for Universal Credit which has been vital to cover my loss of income. Now I’m very worried about the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit - I don't know how we'll manage this winter. Is there any other support out there to help plug the gap?

If you're on a low income or unemployed, you might be able to get help with some of the costs of sending your child to school, including school meals, transport and uniform. It’s always worth talking to your local Council to see what support is available as some of their resources and offerings can differ.

Free school meals

Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 automatically get free school meals. If you have older children you can apply for free school meals if you get certain benefits. In your case as you’re on Universal Credit and you applied after 1 April 2018 you would be eligible if you earn less than £7,400 a year without benefits. You can see the full list of eligibility requirements on the Citizens Advice website.

To apply for free school meals you need to contact your Council. You can do this at: by typing your postcode in.


If your children are aged between five to 16, your local Council might offer free or lower cost transport if you don't live near school or your child's unable to walk there. You need to apply to your local education authority for help.

Uniforms and other costs

Your local education authority might also be able to help with some other costs, like uniforms, music lessons or trips and activities. There may also be local charitable schemes to help with these costs.  It is worth checking with the school to see if it knows of any. Schools can also sometimes also help with finding secondhand uniforms.

What’s next

If your child is staying in education after year 11, you must tell HMRC’s Child Benefit Office if you want to continue receiving child benefit and any extra support for children within means-tested benefits. When your child turns 16, HMRC will send you a letter asking whether your child will stay in education or training. You must reply to this letter to keep getting Child Benefit.

I'm in dispute with a tradesman over some work carried out, what should i do?

We get lots of complaints about traders.  Here are some steps you should take when choosing one:

  • Find a Trading Standards ‘approved trader’ - use the internet to search for one in your area or the Government’s approved trader scheme TrustMark.
  • Get references or recommendations - ask friends and family and ask the trader for examples of similar work they’ve done. Avoid contractors who won’t give references - it’s a sign they could be dishonest.
  • Find out if they are a current member of a trade body - trade bodies have codes of practice and can help resolve problems if things go wrong, so check your trader is a member. Ask who they’re registered with and then check the trade body’s website.
  • Only use certified traders for gas and electrics - it’s dangerous to use someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Check the Gas Safe Register for a list of traders and use a registered electrician who can certify their own work. When you’re having a kitchen fitted, it’s worth checking whether the person you’ve hired will be doing the electrical or gas work themselves. If not, check who they will be using and whether they’re registered.
  • Get a written quote - this is different to an estimate. A quote is legally binding and the builder can’t change it without a good reason - for example, if you ask for extra work to be done. Try to compare quotes from a number of contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price.
  • Get a written contract - this should cover exactly what you’re paying for and everything you’ve agreed on, like timings, payments, who will pay for materials and subcontractors.
  • Think carefully about payment - opt to pay in stages rather than upfront. Where possible, try to pay by card as this can afford you extra safeguards if something goes wrong.
  • Keep copies of receipts - also keep your written contract as evidence, as well as photos of any problems if they arise.

If you have a problem with a contractor, and you’re not sure what to do or where to go, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.

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