Housing benefit and LHA

Fortunately in this country you can never be homeless, if you ask for help you will surely get it. Councils all over the UK have been housing people for decades at the cost of the tax payer. Unfortunately the days where it was for hard up people are gone, as too many people have abused the system local housing from your council is on a long waiting list, you could be waiting years for a place to live. Don’t worry if you really need help there are other ways.

Did you know you can claim LHA a local housing allowance now instead of council housing or both even. As council housing has a severe shortage of housing applicants are being advised to apply for LHA instead. It means you can find a house or flat that you like in an area that you like and if you are a low earner or on certain benefits you will also qualify. You can get help with a deposit for the flat and grants to buy things like furniture and decorating the home. You can also be placed on the council’s waiting list for council housing in the meantime but if you qualify for LHA and your circumstances never change then it could be paid for indefinitely.

All councils have different limits you can apply for to pay for your rent, you also need to check how many rooms you are entitled to as well. If you are single and under 35 you may only qualify for the flat share amount, in this case you may need to pay the difference if you want a one bedroom flat instead of a house share. If you are a couple some councils allow you to rent a one bedroom property, if you are a single mum then children can also qualify for a room of their own.

LHA is changing so you need to check with your local council and keep and eye on things. If you are entitled to LHA or housing benefit you may also qualify for council tax benefit too, some or all of it may be paid in full. With many young people on low incomes or unemployed it is easy to lose independence so by claiming LHA they can live independently and out of their parents hair!

Cannibilism on the increase causing zombie panic!

Have you read the news lately? There has been a noticible rise on canibilism, there have been reports of people resorting to this strange and unnatural habit from all over the world. In the last week alone the following have been reported:

A married man bit off and ate his wife’s lips in Switzerland because he was convinced she was cheating on him.

A young asexual man from Japan had his testicles medically removed, he kept them and then sold tickets for a dinner party where he then cooked them up and served them to paying guests. A total of 6 people shared this unusual dish, they included a young couple, a young woman and an old man.

A naked man in America was found running after a homeless man naked then jumped on him and ate his face off, the homeless man is in critical condition after losing 70% of his face. It is said that the accused was high in drugs, he had to be shot so he could stop eating the other man.

As a result of all these bizarre happenings a statement from the US has been issued after a spate of panic from the public. Forums have been buzzing that ‘zombies’ have arrived and are infecting people! This thought never crossed my mind, I did find it unusual but now I am a little concerned. I think I watch too many movies! I must have seen all that involve the ‘undead’ and let me tell you there is never a happy ending. So if there is going to be a zombie apocalypse then I would like a little notice to prepare myself and stock up and maybe re-watch all those movies to see if there is anything I can do to ensure my survival but saying that what would happen to the world should the ‘uninfected’ survive? I mean would you really want to go through the stress of rebuilding the world?

Well I think for now at least we are safe so I won’t worry myself too much.

Protect the environment with pay as you go insurance

There is now a lot of awareness programmes regarding the environmental impacts of driving especially about the effects of carbon monoxide emissions and a wider audience is understanding the effects of careless driving down the roads. Nowadays, there are green drives to have fewer cars on the road which are more fuel efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Another reason as to why pay as you drive is getting more famous is that in the past people wanted to pay less when they drove less so as to save on their vehicle insurance costs. Today, though, it has come to the attention of environmentalists that pay as you drive is a better means of driving as it reduces gas emissions to the atmosphere and hence is better for the environment. But before going into environmental details, we will see how pay as you drive works.

The pay monthly car insurance is calculated on a cent per kilometre rate which is in turned based on some factors like age of the driver, driving history and the type of vehicle. There is a certain fixed fee that you must pay for every month and you are also given some kilometres to travel for free. Once you go beyond that fixed number of kilometres, you must pay for the extra distance covered. A tracker is installed in your vehicle by the insurance company so as to monitor the distance that you cover per month. The tracker can also be used to relocate your car if it is stolen which thus adds to the security of the vehicle.

The reason as to why environmentalists believe that pay as you drive is a better insurance coverage for cars is that it encourages drivers to drive less which then results in less carbon monoxide emissions into the atmosphere. When you know that you will be paying every time you drive, you will want to drive less to save on money or else go for public transport. Pay as you drive insurance is readily accepted by those concerned about the environment who would rather go for public transport then or use lift clubs. However, in many countries, even environmental conscious people have to pay for their insurance coverage on a monthly basis even though they are making the efforts to reduce gas emissions to the atmosphere as other people which may not look fair to them then. But if they are actually paying for the time that they are driving, it is a better deal for them.

As can be seen, there are many reasons as to why pay as you drive is a concept that is embraced by a lot of people. While it helps to protect the environment, it also causes those who drive less to save up on their insurance costs.

Things to know about the pay as you drive insurance

There is a wide array of insurance policies for a number of activities. Today, in South Africa, there is a new policy that is called pay as you drive which is calculated on a cent per kilometre rate.

With pay as you drive insurance, you pay for a fixed fee per month for insurance thus covering your vehicle up in case of theft, and pay for the number of kilometres that you cover per month. One of the advantages of using pay as you drive insurance is that you will only start to pay once you have gone beyond a certain amount of distance covered. This makes the insurance policy a great one for those who do not drive a lot and there are also different insurance packages with different distance roll deals. Some plans allow you to monitor the distance that you have covered during the first 2 months so that you can know if you are on the right kilometre track or not.

Through the installation of a tracking device in your car, the insurance company can know just how many kilometres you are covering per month. This device can also be used to track your car if it stolen by satellite navigation. While decreasing the recovery time to get your vehicle back, it also reduces your premiums as there are less risks of theft associated with the car. The device is installed in your car (very discretely so that it does not come to the attention of thieves who may then disable it) by a certified tracking company once you have agreed to the policy; your insurance agency will give you details of where and when to get the device installed.

The insurance premium and the set cent per kilometre rate are based on certain factors regarding your profile such as your age, driving record, address, gender and vehicle that you drive. Your final premium will depend on each of these factors which are all equally important.

Pay as you drive insurance is very common in the commercial industry as employers of businesses have a better control on employees using company cars. Their movements can be monitored through the insurance company’s website. Also, if employers are paying for their employees’ fuel, this device can help them to know in how much exactly they have to pay out.

Pay as you drive is a concept that is greatly supported by environmentalists as they believe that if drivers only pay when they have to drive, total carbon monoxide emissions to the atmosphere is reduced and so reducing the environmental problems on earth.

Haart estate agent Welwyn Garden City review

We decided to sell our house and because Haart were very successful on out street we decided to call them for a valuation. One house on our road sold in just one day! I called explained I was moving away and needed a buyer fast. The agent came round and had a look, sat down and talked to us about how she could help etc. She told us realistically how much we could get and what to market the price at for it to sell now, we were happy with the value.

Fees
The fee would be around £4,000 but an EPC would be £175 as it included loads of other things as well as a premium listing upgrade. We have an existing one so that wasn’t needed and there are not many houses on their books so we didn’t need a premium listing either. Solicitor’s fees were around £1,000 and there is nothing to pay if you pull out of the contract as long as you don’t sell the property after leaving them and within the contracted period. The estate agent wasn’t pushy, listened to us at all times and told us everything we needed to know in terms of selling quickly. She was very laid back but knew what she was talking about and never once fobbed us off. It’s worth doing a little research so you understand ahead when an estate agent comes round so you don’t get tricked into purchasing things you don’t need etc.

Well when we decided to go ahead we go our very first viewing the next evening which was a Friday, then over the weekend we had 7 or so one after another. At first it was great but as you show people round and find out more about them I came to find that none were suitable for our house. Haart does not screen people that want to view a house they just give them the address and send them over. I was a little disappointed because I did say that I needed to sell quickly with no messing about.

We have no bath as we decided it was not needed, instead we have a shower cubicle, they sent round heavily pregnant people, those who were thinking of starting a family and fat people that would not even fit. They also sent round people who were new to the market and had no clue what they were looking for. In all we were very tired and disappointed.

Just when we decided to pull out of the contract with Haart we received an offer, this was just two weeks after we put the house on the market. Of course we negotiated on the price and finally agreed and that was that.

Haart are good but just don’t take their word for anything, you can never trust an estate agent. Also do not buy their EPC package as it’s a waste of money, if a house was sold before 2003 then an EPC already exists and can be retrieved at a nominal fee (less than £10 is reasonable) otherwise you will pay £60 for a new one when it is not needed. Also do not go with their solicitors, they are not reliable at all.

Haart conveyancing

When you buy or sell a house you will want to save as much money as you can in every way, one of the places where you can either save or lose is finding the right solicitor or conveyance for your property. We recently sold our house through Haart and were ‘sold’ on their conveyance package but before we did decide we got around 5 quotes to see what other firms were offering.

It’s always important to shop around as you may save hundreds just by taking the time to do so, to sell my 3 bedroom house the quotes ranged from £700 to £1,200 including VAT. Obviously it is tempting to go with the cheapest but that isn’t necessarily the wisest choice. As we were leaving to live abroad we needed a reliable conveyance and also one that wasn’t too expensive. Also if the sale was to not go through you still need to pay.

Haart solicitors operate a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee and as we already lost some money on the sale of the house we decided to go ahead just in case we lose more money. You have to pay a £60 admin fee and if the sale doesn’t go through that is all you will lose, you won’t have to pay a penny more. Unfortunately it is very misleading and this is how it really works.

Haart solicitors / conveyances
When you ‘go’ with Haarts’ solicitors you are actually paying Haart a £60 admin fee to find a solicitor / conveyance for you and none of that £60 goes to the conveyance. Also as our quotes was £750 only £300 of that actually goes to the conveyancing team, the remainder £450 goes to Haart. So on top of paying Haart £4000 when the house sells they actually get more money if you go with ‘their’ conveyancing team.

It is also misleading as there are other charges to pay, it is supposed to be all inclusive for money transferring, title deeds name transfer, land registry checks etc but it not and these charges will be added on to the supposedly ‘all inclusive’ fee.

They are very slow to start the process too as we had to fax the starter pack twice and then post it, in all we have lost around a month because of lack of organisation and poor estate agents who haven’t a clue what they are doing.

So if you do decide to go with them be aware that there are ‘hidden’ charges and also you may find that the whole process is up to 2 months longer than most other places.

Avon poor delivery service

For years I have been a loyal customer to Avon, some products that they offer are cheaper and better than other brands. They also continuously come up with new ideas and products that appeal to everyone. Whether you are a teenager, middle aged or older you will surely find products to suit both your skin type and budget.

The one thing I don’t like about Avon is no matter how much you spend you still need to pay delivery, most places nowadays offer free delivery if you spend over a certain amount but Avon doesn’t no matter how much you spend. Free delivery is always an incentive for buying but with Avon their standard delivery charge is £3.50 no matter how much you spend. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot but if you only need a few items and it comes up to a mere £20 then adding £3.50 to that doesn’t really seem worth it.

Avon free delivery
Of course you can always contact your local representative and have them deliver it for you free of charge but I find that they are not always reliable and delivery can take weeks in some cases. Also I have had problems with free gifts that are also supposed to come with certain products, they are not always guaranteed through your local Avon representative. Ordering online is easier and also stock is guaranteed.

Avon poor delivery service

On the last few occasions that I have ordered Avon products I have found that the box that it all arrives in is damaged completely, not a squashed box but ripped open. When I called them and complained they said that there was nothing they can do! The call centre is in India so beware, then customer service said to check the box and if anything was missing they would replace it free of charge. I had ordered £200 worth of Avon products, I was very tempted to call and say half of the items were missing but then I was afraid that Karma would come and bite me in the bum so I didn’t. Looking back if I had the time I would have tried my luck but I am very disappointed in Avon for not taking action.

Also Avon does not let you order more than £200 worth of goods at a time if you go over you need to call customer service. I know it seems like a lot of money but I order for my mum and other family members so we don’t all have to pay the delivery charge, plus I am A-List member and get many products cheaper than those who are not. One of the Avon moisturisers that my mum uses is £25 so buying a day cream plus a night cream already costs £50 it’s very easy to spend £100 without realising especially when you are tempted with so many offers.

Connells estate agents Welwyn Garden City review

Nearly three years ago I bought my house through Connells estate agents in Welwyn Garden City, the house was not really what we were looking to buy but it had so much potential that we went ahead. We gutted it completely and did the whole house, it took six months before we could live in it but it was so worth it in the end. Well now three years later we need to sell and fast! After a business opportunity arose we decided to sell and start again in Australia. Well we called Connells because when we bought the house it took only six weeks until the sale was completed but that was mostly down to the house being vacant and I being a first time buyer so there was no chain in either side.

Well an agent came round yesterday and even after explaining when I called for them to come round that we needed the house to sell fast he still asked ‘so we need to establish why I’m here’ I was like duh to sell the house! I told him I had already explained this and he jotted it all down, then he took more details before walking round the house to ‘value’ value the property. Like I said we need to sell fast and now not next week or next month. Before he told us the value he talked us through the process blah blah blah and said ‘well I can sell by Christmas’ I was like CHRISTMAS!!! That’s 10 weeks away, on top of that he’s going on holiday for a few weeks and we all know what that means. I am not being unreasonable when I say this house needs to sell now, if the price is right it will sell fast. He then said he can ‘guarantee’ the house to be sold in 4 weeks, well that is by far too long.

Well anyway he valued the house far too high and we know that it would never sell so we were like hmmm then he said we ‘we’ll push for 15k lower than that’ which still was too high. Looking at the properties selling right now there are bigger and better houses for the price he ‘valued’ the house at. Well on top of that he was just really pushy and not taking into account anything we said.

Fees
On top of all that the estate agent fees were 2% that he then lowered to 1.75% that was £5,000 for sole agency fees and a whopping £10,000 for the multiple agency fees. Also he offered the EPC for around £50 and solicitor fees for £1,000. Then he was like ok you want to sign the contract then, we were like whoa we need to read the contract so he was a little taken back. I did find this strange who signs something without reading the contract first? Well on top of this he wanted us to sign the opt out option that applies to the ‘7 day cooling off period’ that we are entitled to. He was very strange, he was so sure that we would use him as the house was through Connells the first time. We said we’d read it and get back to him. He then got up and started measuring up the rooms thinking he was so in there, what a plonker. There is also a £125 fee you need to pay them if you do decide to break the contract; this is a marketing fee that they pay to advertise the property so if you pull out at any time you need to pay this.

When we asked if there were any penalties to pulling out of the contract if we change our minds he said no, we asked this as we may need to leave suddenly without selling but he then said ‘well leave the keys and we’ll do the rest’ then when the paperwork was done we just need to fly back and sign. We were shocked and said no when leave we won’t be coming back soon!

He called us the next day and we told him that we were waiting on a few other agents to value the property; he was very surprised to say the least. Well we decided to go with Haart instead as we found that they weren’t pushy and listed to us and what we were looking for in term of an agent to sell the house quickly.

So if you do decide to go with Connells then beware and get another quote, their fees are far too high to Haart’s were approximately £1,000 cheaper and every penny counts!

Summer Infant Baby Touch Video Monitor review

I knew that at some point I would need a baby monitor, if I’m downstairs and my baby is upstairs it’s really hard to hear if she is awake or crying. Having a baby monitor also provides us with reassurance that our baby is fine. They range in greatly in price; they can be bought for as little as £20 and as much as £300+, they also have different features such as movement monitoring, night light, lullaby’s etc. When my baby started sleeping through the night at 9 weeks we used to keep her in her travel cot downstairs with us but as time went on we found that we couldn’t talk, laugh or make any noise as it would wake her up. Eventually we decided to get a monitor, I was originally going to get a sound monitor that had a sensor mat so I would be sure that she was ok but my husband insisted what we had a video one instead. The sound monitor would’ve cost around £60-£80 and a video monitor anywhere between £90-£350!

After much research we decided to purchase Summer Infant Baby Touch touch-screen Digital Video Monitor, it didn’t come cheap we paid around £170 for it but there were other places charging as much as £250 for the same thing. Some of the features it has are: zoom and pan, temperature indicator, a large LCD colour screen, two way talk back, wireless and the ability to add additional cameras.

We have found the picture quality to be amazing! My daughter usually has a dummy when she goes to bed and when it falls out she can get upset sometimes with the monitor you can clearly see when it has fallen out, the sound control is good too, can be turned up or down to suit or you can see the lights indicator on the unit when movement is detected.

Now that we have a video monitor I don’t think we could ever settle on a sound one instead, of course features vary depending on the make and model so it’s good to know what you want beforehand as some also have the ability to take pictures but I don’t the quality would be any good. Summer Infant also have fantastic customer service as I had a problem with another product of theirs and they sent me a replacement free of charge!

In my opinion this monitor is fantastic if you can afford it otherwise you can get it second and cheaper on eBay, it is definitely a must for all parents.

Willows farm Review

We all know how hard the school holidays are, kids need entertaining and in most cases that costs money. Whether it’s some more toys, new games for the Wii or a day out, whatever you decide to do it will cost you. Many families nowadays have to work most of the time including during school holidays so when they manage to get time off for the holidays most will take the time to go out for the day usually to a farm or park. Unfortunately most places charge for entry these days but on top of that you may need to fork out extra for other games and activities whilst inside. Food is also a big expense as most places charge silly money for a small plate of chips.

Willows farm
We recently went to Willows farm before the weather decided to act up, it was a lovely sunny day when my partner and I decided we should go for it. We took along our four month old daughter as we thought it would be a nice family day out. First of all entry for adults cost £12.50 and children over two cost £13.50, a day trip for a family of four costs a whopping £77! Then when you get to the entrance there are signs for ‘animal feed’, although it costs a mere 50p for a small cup you may be tempted to buy more than one cup each as there are many animals that need feeding.

As you enter there is a small indoor farmyard favourites area with small animals such as piglets, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens etc, it’s fairly small and can get crowded at times. Be careful as most children have used up all their animal feed by this time. As you continue there are stables that consist of just two horses! It can get so busy that people are lining up just for a glimpse of them, there are various other animals that can be fed around the ‘farm’ such as cows, donkeys, goats sheep, reindeers and wallabies. What was disappointing is that young children couldn’t reach to feed most animals so it wasn’t much of a farm!

There is an abundance of children’s play areas such as swings, slides, ball games, trampolines and more but this was mostly for older children aged 5+, older children seemed to enjoy the so called farm but for younger children there wasn’t much to entertain them with. It is very commercialised and not at all like an actual farm.

I will not go back there and advise all families to steer clear there are far cheaper and real working farms out there that accept visitors for a small and reasonable fee. £77 for a family of four to visit what I can only describe as a park is just a rip off!