What will happen to EU residents after No Deal Brexit?

As the new Brexit deadline of 31st October approaches, it seems likely that the UK will end up leaving the EU without a deal. No Deal Brexit disastrous predictions have been circulating for years already, but the lack of progress from the UK government is causing a lot of stress for Brits and EU citizens alike. The pressure is mounting and people don’t know what is happening or what they are supposed to do about Brexit.

Continue reading What will happen to EU residents after No Deal Brexit?

Blue Badge Rules Changing to Include Hidden Disabilities

The UK government will be implementing the biggest change to the Blue Badge disabled parking scheme since its inception in 1970 from Friday 30th August 2019. People with less visible disabilities may now be able to access Blue Badges and benefit from accessible parking spaces in the UK.

Who can apply for a Blue Badge now?

This year, the criteria for Blue Badge eligibility will be changing. The UK government is extending access to Blue Badges for people with hidden disabilities and not just immediately visible mobility problems. This will include people with autism, anxiety, or dementia amongst other mental and psychological conditions. As well as individual adults, parents can apply for a Blue Badge if they have a child with one of the newly eligible conditions. Under these new rules, a person qualifies for a Blue Badge if:

  • They receive 8 or more points in the “moving around” part of the PIP mobility component assessment
  • They get the PIP mobility component and also receive 10+ points in “planning and following journeys” due to “overwhelming psychological distress” during this activity
  • They take an assessment deciding whether they can make a journey without the risk of serious harm, considerable psychological distress, or difficulty walking (not just physically)

What are people saying about the new Blue Badge rules?

Many people are happy about these changes because it will make life easier for lots more people. The Minister of State for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, described this change as “a watershed moment” for people with hidden disabilities because it makes it easier for them to be independent. Jane Harris, the director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, also said that it will be “life-changing” for people with autism especially. Many charities and organizations are praising this development, but are also wary about how well it will work. Ceri Smith from Scope, the charity for disability equality, said that there is more to be done to ensure that there are enough Blue Badge parking spaces for everyone who needs them. Kat Humble of Autistic UK agreed, stating that there is a lot of room left for improvement in this area regarding discrimination and fraud as well. Accordingly, the UK government is providing £1.7 million to councils to help them to cope with the demand for Blue Badge services. There will also be a new task force for cracking down on Blue Badge fraud, which can improve the availability of spaces.

How do you apply for a Blue Badge?

The new rules will apply to Blue Badge applicants from 30th August this year. You can easily apply for a Blue Badge online or renew a Blue Badge online here. However, you must be able to provide scanned images of the required documents and the requested details like your National Insurance Number. You can find out more about other ways to apply for a Blue Badge here. A Blue Badge can cost up to £10-£20 around the UK.

Understanding the Environment Agency Flood Map

flood map 2

Whether you live in a rural or built up area, your housing or accommodation can still be at risk of flooding. Below are some tips and advice on how to understand and use the Environment Agency Flood Risk Map. You will also find information on the different types of flood risk, and help on what to do after a flood, should the worst happen to you.

By definition, a flood risk combines both potential and probable influences of flooding for all sources in one area. These include the sea, rivers, via rainfall and via drainage systems. .

Environment Agency Flood Risk Map

The flood risk map was set up by the UK government in order to find the flood risk of your current location, or any location you wish to research. When using this service, you will first need to type in your postcode, or the postcode of an area you would like to check. Don’t worry if you don’t the location exactly accurate, you can move a marker to your desired location on the next page. Once you have done this, you will be able to see what “flood zone” your location falls under.

flood map for planning
How to use the Environment Agency Flood Map

If you live in an area which falls under Flood Map Zone 1, you will be happy to know that the chances of flooding within one year is 1 in 1000. Areas in zone 1 are shown as white or clear on the flood zone map. These areas are more likely to be approved for building and are advisable areas to move to.

Environment Agency Flood Map Zones 2 and 3

When looking at the Floop Map, zones 2 and 3 are shown respectively as light and dark blue in colour. Areas on the flood map that fall within zone 2 will have a 1 in 100 chance of flooding throughout the calendar year. Flooding can occur from rivers or sea, and planning permission will need to be reviewed by the government before being approved.

Zone 3 is split into 3a and 3b. Living in 3a means that you are at a higher risk of annual flooding, and is known as the High Probability section of zone 3. 3b of Zone 3 is known as a Functional Floodplain area. This means that during times of flooding, this area will allow water to flow freely and be stored safely until flooding has ceased.

Although zones 3a and 3b are not distinguished on the map, you will be able to see which area you fall under via the information shown besides the map.

flood map for planning 2

If an area of land is within flood zone 2 or 3, a flood risk activity permit will be needed in order to acquire planning permission. These can be obtained from the government website. If you do not carry out a flood risk assessment on an area of land that falls within zone 3, any planning permission you put forward may not be granted.

If you live in flood zone 2 or 3, it might be a good idea to sign up for flood warnings. This service is free and means you will be notified of a potential flood if and when it ever happens. If you’re moving home, and your new house sits within a flood zone, you can check its flooding history by emailing enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk with the following details:

  • Your phone number
  • A map of your area (this can be via the flood map government website, or via Google Maps – whichever you prefer)
  • Over what time you want the report to cover (i.e within the last year)
  • The address of the property

Environment Agency Wales Flood Maps

If you live in Wales, you can still use the government flood risk services above, or visit the Natural Resources Wales dedicated website. On this site, you can check the water levels, see if there are any flood warnings in your area, receive information on long-term flood risks, and find local information for what to do during a flood.

flood map for planning 3 wales

Getting help after a flood

No matter the zone or area you live in, you can find that flooding can happen at any time. If you find yourself in the middle of a flood, you can ask for advice and help via The National Flood Forum. Via this website you can also report a flood as it happens, report an electrical hazard (such as power cuts, or broken lines), report gas leaks as a result of a flood, or report an overflowing sewer.

If you need temporary accommodation, you can contact your local council.

If you have prepared of a flood accordingly, you will need to dispose of sandbags at your local rubbish site, and must put non-pollutable items directly in the bin. You can also find more help on the government website on what to do after a flood.

Job Centre Christmas Opening Hours 2017

To find out the opening hours for your local Job Centre at Christmas, call  0844 248 2557.

Click here to see the Jobcentre Christmas open days for 2018 – 2019.


Job Centre Christmas Opening Hours 2017

Over the Christmas and New Year period, many places of business often restrict their usual opening times. The same goes for Job Centres across the UK, known as Jobcentre Plus.

The good news is that due to the amended Job Centre Christmas opening hours, nobody should have an appointment between 25th – 27th December or 1st – 2nd January. Limited public transport and family commitments make it difficult to travel to the Job Centre as well, so your work coach shouldn’t book any appointments for signing on during this time.

Unfortunately, if you experience issues with your benefits claim such as sanctions, the Christmas closures will slow down an appeal. Be sure to attend all your appointments leading up to Christmas and fulfil your job search requirements. This will allow you to enjoy your Christmas without the stress of the Job Centre reducing or stopping your benefits.

Job Centre Christmas & New Year Availability

In the following table, you can find the opening times for Job Centre offices and phone lines over Christmas and New Year. If the date is not listed in the table, then both should open normally.

England & Wales
Monday 25th December 2017
All phone lines and local offices closed.
All phone lines and local offices closed.
Tuesday 26th December 2017
All phone lines and local offices closed.
All phone lines and local offices closed.
Wednesday 27th December 2017
Phone lines open for urgent calls about payments only. Local offices closed.
Phone lines and local offices open for urgent enquiries about payments only.
Thursday 28th December 2017
Phone lines and offices open as normal.
Phone lines and offices open as normal.
Friday 29th December 2017
Phone lines and offices open as normal.
Phone lines and offices open as normal.
Monday 1st January 2018
Phone lines and local offices closed.
Phone lines and local offices closed.
Tuesday 2nd January 2018
Phone lines and local offices open for urgent enquiries about payments only.
Phone lines open for urgent calls about payments only. Local offices closed.

Contacting the Job Centre During Christmas

As shown above, on some days all offices and phone lines are closed. On other days, even when they’re open, they only accept urgent enquiries about benefit payments. As the last working day before Christmas is Friday 22nd December this year, any payments due on days when the Job Centre closes should be paid on that day instead. For more information on benefit payment dates over Christmas and New Year, click here.

If you have an issue with your payment, you can call on particular days shown in the table when the service is otherwise unavailable. However, if you need to call about anything else, such as an upcoming appointment, you will have to wait until a day when everything is open as usual. Click the links below to find the helpline numbers to contact for the particular benefit you’re claiming.

Finally, if your circumstances change at all over the Christmas period, remember to contact the Job Centre as soon as possible.

The DVLA could fine you £1,000 for having the wrong address on your driving licence

The DVLA could fine you £1,000 for having the wrong address on your driving licenseMillions of motorists across the UK could face surprise charges if they have the wrong address on their driving licence. With a rule that seemingly millions of drivers around the UK are unaware of, anyone with a driving licence has to let the DVLA know if they will be changing address, or risk facing a £1,000 fine if they’re stopped by the police and have an incorrect address on the licence.

The rule applies to all kinds of moves, including temporary relocations for situations like term-time for university students. It is free to change your address with the DVLA, so there shouldn’t any reason not to change your address, yet it seems that many people weren’t aware that the need to change your address immediately was as vital as it is. If you need to update your address you can easily do it online via Gov.uk website, where you can fill out a simple form and your new licence will be sent to you within three weeks.

Other reasons for updating your licence would be for name-changes and making sure that your photo is kept up-to-date. If you’re not sure whether your picture is out of date, you can simply check the 4b photo on your licence, where you will find the date that your photo expires. Your photo lasts around 10 years, so keep an eye over the years to ensure that your licence is always up-to-date, unless you want to face the £1,000 fine.

Comparethemarket.com released research that says around 1.5 million registered drivers have the wrong address on their driving licence, meaning that if all of the drivers were stopped and fined the DVLA could claim around £1.5 billion from motorists with incorrect details. 35% of the motorists who were interviewed by the website didn’t know that having incorrect details on your driving licence was illegal, showing that it is a more common problem than many would realise. Over 2.6 million motorists haven’t updated their licences in time, including 3% of married women who have the wrong name on their licences after changing it legally. If you find that you need to renew your licence, then it only costs £20, or £24.50 if you do it at your local post office, and can be useful if you find your licence is out of date, as an out of date licence can cause you more problems than it’s worth.

If you find yourself as a person who needs to change their address on their licence and need to know more about how to change your licence, then this simple guide can help you:

  1. Visit Gov.uk and find the ‘Driving and transport’ section.
  2. Here you can select the ‘Driving licences’ section and choose to tell the DVLA you’ve changed your address.
  3. Clicking on this will lead you to a Gov.uk page that gives you the chance to update your address on your driving licence, as well as in your vehicle’s log book (V5C) and you can have the chance to update your details with the DVLA if you pay by Direct Debit for your vehicle tax.
  4. By choosing to apply online for your licence update, you will be directed to a DVLA website that will require your Government Gateway User ID – if you don’t have a Government Gateway account you will need to create one before changing any of your details online
  5. From here you will need to have your current driving licence, any addresses you’ve lived in in the past three years and, if you need to change your photo as well, your passport number so that they can use your passport photo for your licence.

Always make sure that you’re up to date with all of the details for your driving licence, as it could cost you a surprising amount if you’re not completely accurate with all of your details, and isn’t worth the hassle that it can cause for a free and quick update online.