Common Advice Questions

Common Advice Questions

Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

Select the category and questions most relevant to you.

The Citizens Advice website has detailed advice about many common issues. Find answers to our most commonly asked questions below.

What is a community pantry?

Community pantries offer access by membership to a range of food products, for a small weekly contribution. Community pantries aim to support those in financial hardship, food vulnerability and in need of community support but there are no criteria that must be met and there is no referral system. Anyone can access their local community pantry. 

For £5/6, you’ll receive goods worth approximately £15/20 (limited to one shop per week). Our local community pantries are: 

Unit 12- Winnall 

Open Monday (10am- 1pm), Tuesday (9:30- 11:30am), Thursday (10am- 2:30pm), Friday (7- 9pm) and Saturday (9:30 – 11:30am)  

Carroll Centre- Stanmore 

Open Monday- Wednesday, Friday (9:30am-12:30pm), Thursday (3- 6pm) 

Wickham Community Food Pantry 

Open Tuesdays (1- 3pm, 6- 7:15pm) at Wickham Community Centre 

How do I access a foodbank?

A lot of food banks need a referral from Citizens Advice or other local charitable organisations in the area. If you are a Winchester or Alresford resident, you can refer yourself to the Winchester Basics Bank for food and clothing up to 8 times in a 12-month period: 

Please remember to bring your own bags. Details of the food hubs and opening times can be found below: 

After 8 self-referrals you can still receive help, but you will need to contact a referral agent who will be able to help you with additional assistance such as maximising your income.  

Citizens Advice can refer you to the food bank. Referral forms will be processed during normal working hours on Tuesdays and Fridays.  

If you live in the Meon Valley then we can refer you to the Meon Valley food bank which is located at the Wickham community centre. The foodbank is open on Tuesdays from 10am-2pm.  

What help is available with the cost of living?

We have a page on our website which outlines support available locally and nationally if you need help with the cost of living:  

The support available may change and it is worth contacting your local Citizens Advice office to see what support is currently available.  

How can I find out what benefits I’m entitled to?

You can carry out your own benefit entitlement check by following the information in the next link: 

Please note that the results will be for indication purposes only. 

You will see there are 2 possible calculators to use, Turn2us and EntitledTo, to help you calculate if you are entitled to any benefits. 

If you are currently in receipt of any benefit support it is important that you use a calculator to check if you are better off than you would be if making a new claim for universal credit. Once a new claim is made your current benefits will cease and cannot be reinstated. If you need support to complete a “what if” calculation please contact us. 

Should you need increased support to complete a benefits calculator, Turn2Us run a helpline to give support and information with means tested benefits to people who find it hard going online. 

The helpline can support you over the phone by completing online tools on your behalf. They then post, email or text you your result.  

Helpline Details: 0808 802 2000, 9am – 5pm Mondays-Fridays. 

All calls are free from a UK landline and from most mobiles. If you are calling from a mobile, please check with your network provider. You can also email Turn2us at: 

You will need to be prepared with the information required to complete a benefit check which can be found in the following link: 

When should I do a benefits check?

We recommend you carry out a benefits check if you are struggling financially. It is also worth checking your eligibility if you have a change of circumstance such as: 

  • Having a child 
  • Reduction in your household income 
  • Losing your job 
  • Moving in with a partner 
  • Separating from a partner  
  • Changes to your long-term health  
  • You’ve reached state pension age  

You can carry out a benefits entitlement check yourself, the calculators in the link below are free and details will be kept anonymous. 

What information do I need for a benefits check?

To check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to, you will need the following information for everyone who lives in your home: 

  • dates of birth 
  • if employed or self-employed – number of hours worked 
  • gross income from employment for the last tax year – April 6 to April 5  - a P60 form will provide this, or if self-employed, last year’s accounts 
  • gross income for this year – payslips or estimate if self-employed 
  • if you are currently receiving benefits, all the benefit award letters/emails 
  • child care costs – details of childcare provider and how much you pay 
  • investment income – details of investments and latest interest payments (bank statements may be the best way to show this) 
  • tenancy agreement or current mortgage repayment details 
  • council tax bill 
How do I fill out a Work Capability Assessment form?

If you get Universal Credit and you can’t work because you’re disabled or have a health condition, you’ll usually get an extra form to fill in. The form is called the ‘work capability questionnaire’ or ‘UC50’. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) use the form to decide whether you: 

  • have to work or look for work 
  • don’t have to work, but have to do things to prepare for work – called ‘limited capability for work’ (LCW) 
  • don’t have to work or prepare for work – called ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ (LCWRA) 

The form can take a long time to fill in. Allow time to take breaks if you can – it’s important to give the DWP enough information so they can make the right decision. 

You have to send the form back within 4 weeks after you get it – otherwise the DWP might decide you can work. If it’s more than 4 weeks since you got the form, you should still fill it in and send it as soon as you can. The DWP might accept it if there’s a good reason you couldn’t send it earlier. 

You can send medical evidence of your condition or disability along with the form. Medical evidence can give the DWP a better idea of how your condition affects your ability to work.  

You should send evidence if it supports what you’re saying on the form. 

We have information on how to fill in the form on our public site:  

Where can I get help with making a Universal Credit claim?

Universal Credit is a benefit you can claim if you are on a low income or unemployed.   

There’s no set level of income where you stop being eligible for Universal Credit – it depends on your situation.  

Check if you can get Universal Credit (EWS) 

To get Universal Credit you must:    

If you live with a partner, their income and savings will be taken into account. 

You should consider how you match with these eligibility criteria, to decide whether to move forwards with applying for Universal Credit. If you are currently in receipt of any benefit support it is important that you understand whether you will be better off than you would be if making a new claim for universal credit. Once a new claim is made your current benefits will cease and cannot be reinstated.  

You could contact our Help to Claim advisers, they can help you with the early stages of your Universal Credit claim. You can talk to them on the phone or online over chat.  Our advisers can help you: 

  • work out if you can get Universal Credit 
  • fill in the Universal Credit application  
  • prepare for your first Jobcentre appointment  
  • check your first payment is correct  

You can find information about how to contact them through the following link: 

Contact us about applying for Universal Credit (EWS)      

How do I appeal a decision about my Personal Independence Payment?

If you disagree with a decision that’s been made about your PIP claim, you can challenge it. 

You can challenge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision about PIP if: 

  • you didn’t get it 
  • you got a lower rate than you expected 
  • you think your award isn’t long enough 

If you’re getting PIP but you want to challenge the amount, the DWP will look at your whole benefit claim again. This means they might decide you should get less benefit or not get the benefit at all. 


Apply for mandatory reconsideration 

The best way to apply for a reconsideration is touse the CRMR1 mandatory reconsideration request formon GOV.UK, or write a letter to the DWP explaining  why you disagree with the decision. 

You can call the DWP to ask for a reconsideration, but it’s better to have everything in writing. If you decide to call, make sure you follow up with a letter and advise the DWP you will be doing this. The contact details will be on the decision letter from DWP. 

Check the date on your decision letter. You need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration within 1 month of that date. If you use the form or send a letter, the DWP will need to receive it within 1 month. 


If you’ve missed the 1 month deadline 

It’s still worth asking for a mandatory reconsideration, as long as it’s within 13 months of the decision. 

You’ll need to explain your reasons for being late – for example if being ill or dealing with difficult personal circumstances meant you couldn’t apply in time. Use your form or letter to explain why your application is late, as well as why you disagree with their decision. 

The DWP can refuse your application if it’s late, but as long as you applied within 13 months of the date on your decision letter you can still appeal their decision at a tribunal. 


What you need to say 

You need to give specific reasons why you disagree with the decision. Use your decision letter, statement of reasons and medical assessment report to make a note of each of the statements you disagree with and why. Give facts, examples and medical evidence (if available) to support what you’re saying. 

This link explains what each of the questions is asking and goes into detail about how to answer each question. 

How do I prepare for a PIP assessment?

The PIP assessment is an opportunity for you to talk about how your condition affects you. Its purpose is not to diagnose your condition or to serve as a medical examination.  It’s important you prepare for the assessment because the DWP will use its conclusions as evidence to decide if you are eligible for PIP. 

You may wish to read the information below which will help you to prepare for your PIP assessment. 

Preparing for your PIP assessment (EWS) 

You, or your (Parent, Partner, family member) could consider keeping a diary for a couple of weeks and record the ways in which you need day to day support.  Getting evidence to support your PIP claim (EWS) § Keeping a PIP diary 

We have also included a link to the charity Scope which has information which will help you to prepare for the assessment:  


Talking about how your condition affects you 

You should be prepared to talk about how your condition affects you even if you’ve already detailed it in your PIP claim form. It will really help if you can talk about:  

  • The kind of things you have difficulty with or can’t do at all. For example, taking medication without prompts from someone else or going up stairs without an aid. 
  • How your condition affects you from day to day. 
  • What a bad day is like for you. For example, ‘on a bad day, I can’t walk at all because my leg hurts so much’, or ‘on a bad day, I’m so depressed I can’t concentrate on anything’.  

It is a good idea to take a copy of your PIP claim form with you. That way you can refer to it in the assessment and help you to remember to tell the assessor everything you want them to know about your condition. 


Observations on what you say and do at the assessment 

The assessor will use the information you gave on your PIP claim form but also from what you say and do on the day. For example, they might ask you how you got to the assessment centre. If you say you came on the bus, they’ll note that you can travel alone on public transport.  

You might be asked to carry out some physical tasks during the assessment. Don’t feel you have to do things in the assessment that you wouldn’t normally be able to do. If you do them on assessment day, the assessor may think you can always do them. If you’re not comfortable with something you can tell the assessor.  

The assessor will also make a note of your mental state during the assessment for example, they’ll record whether you look depressed or happy and how you cope with social interaction. 


Asking for an adjustment  

Make sure to check with your assessment provider that their assessment centre has everything you need to access it. If it doesn’t, you can ask for it by phoning your assessment provider using the number on your appointment letter.  

For example: 

  • Ask if you’ll have to go upstairs, and if there’s a lift that can accommodate a wheelchair if you use one.  
  • Ask how spacious the centre is if you get anxious in enclosed spaces. If the rooms or corridors are small, tell them this could make you anxious and see what they can do to make you feel comfortable.  
  • Ask for an interpreter or signer if you need one. You must do this at least 2 working days before your assessment so they have enough time to arrange it.  
  • Ask for the person carrying out the assessment to be the same gender as you, if it is important to you. 
  • Ask if you can make an audio recording of the assessment. You must do this 3 days before your assessment and ask your provider about their rules for using recording equipment. 

You can claim back your travel costs for the journey to and back from the assessment centre. Ask the receptionist at the centre for a travel expenses claim form and a prepaid self-addressed envelope. Include all your tickets and receipts with the claim form. 

If you have been told you will be assessed over the phone and you’re worried about this, you can have someone aged 16 or over on the call with you. They can take part in discussions and take notes. If you’re not comfortable speaking on the phone, you can let the DWP know – they can assess you by looking at your application and medical evidence. 

You would be penalised in your application if you failed to attend the assessment. Contact your assessment provider straight away if you can’t make your appointment. If you have a good reason for not going, they may reschedule it. The number to contact is on your appointment letter. 

How do I fill out a Personal Independence Payment form?

When you apply for PIP, you’ll need to fill in a form called ‘How your disability affects you’. You can use our guidance to help you. There is advice for each question, including:  

  • what the questions mean  
  • what to write about in your answers  
  • examples of answers people might give 
  • help explaining how your illness or disability affects you 

PIP is based on how your condition affects you. It’s not based on your particular illness or disability, or your medication. 

It’s very important to think about each question. Our help pages will help you to decide if you need to answer each question: 

Am I eligible for Personal Independence Payment?

If you need extra help because of an illness, disability or mental health condition you could get Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  You don’t need to have worked or paid National Insurance to qualify for PIP, and it doesn’t matter what your income is, if you have any savings or you’re working. 

To be eligible for PIP you must be aged between 16 and your State Pension age. You cancheck your State Pension age on GOV.UK.  

You must also:  

  • find it hard to do everyday tasks or get around because of a physical or mental condition – you can make a claim whether you get help from another person or not 
  • have found these things hard for 3 months and expect it to continue for another 9 months 
  • usually be living in England, Scotland or Wales when you apply 
  • have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 years - unless you’re a refugee or an immediate family member of a refugee 
Your illness, disability or mental health condition 

PIP is not based on the condition you have or the medication you take. It is based on the level of help you need because of how your condition affects you. 

You’re assessed on the level of help you need with specific activities. It’s hard to say if the level of help you need will qualify you for PIP. But, if you get or need help with any of the following because of your condition, you should consider applying:  

  • preparing and cooking food 
  • eating and drinking 
  • managing your treatments 
  • washing and bathing 
  • managing toilet needs or incontinence 
  • dressing and undressing 
  • communicating with other people 
  • reading and understanding written information 
  • mixing with others 
  • making decisions about money 
  • planning a journey or following a route 
  • moving around 

The help you get may be from a person, an aid (such as a walking stick or guide dog) or an adaptation to your home or car. 

The next link takes you through the claims process. 

How do I fill out an Attendance Allowance form?

When you apply for Attendance Allowance you will need to fill out a form that the DWP will use to assess your eligibility. They’ll be looking to see: 

  • what difficulties you have, or how much help you need 
  • how often you have difficulties or need help 
  • what sort of help you need 

You don’t have to be getting any help at the moment – the important thing is that you need it. For example, you might need to hold on to furniture to move around your home. 

It’s worth keeping a diary of your needs for at least a week before you fill in the form. You can use our diary template [ 99 kb]. 

The diary can give you a good idea of your ‘care needs’ – this is the help you need to complete personal tasks. 

We recommend that you read our help pages before you start filling in your form:  


Am I eligible for Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is extra money to help with your care needs if you’ve reached pension age and you have an illness or disability. Attendance Allowance isn’t means tested so it doesn’t matter what other money you get. It doesn’t matter how much you have in savings either – there’s no limit. It won’t affect your state pension and you can claim it if you’re still working and earning money. 

If you’re thinking about applying for Attendance Allowance when you reach State Pension age, you might be better off claiming PIP straight away – you might be able to get more money. Read more about claiming PIP 

You should apply for Attendance Allowance if you have a disability or illness and need help or supervision throughout the day or at times during the night (even if you don’t currently get that help): 

  • with your personal care – for example getting dressed, eating or drinking, getting in and out of bed, bathing or showering and going to the toilet 
  • to stay safe 

You should also apply if you have difficulties with personal tasks, for example if they take you a long time, you experience pain or you need physical help, like a chair to lean on. It might help if you compare how you do the personal tasks now to how you used to do them. 

Attendance Allowance isn’t just for people with a physical disability or illness. You should also claim if you need help or supervision throughout the day or night and have: 

  • a mental health condition 
  • learning difficulties 
  • a sensory condition – for example if you’re deaf or blind  

You must have had care or supervision needs because of your disability or illness for at least 6 months before you can get Attendance Allowance. If you’re terminally ill, you can claim Attendance Allowance straight away – you don’t need to wait 6 months. 

You don’t need to have had a diagnosis for your condition to apply for Attendance Allowance. 

You can read further about the eligibility criteria here: Check if you’re entitled to Attendance Allowance (EWS) 


How to claim 

You can either phone for an application form or download a form on GOV.UK.   

It is recommended that you telephone the Attendance Allowance helpline to ask for a form. If you phone for a form your claim will be back-paid to the date of the phone call as long as you return the form within 6 weeks.   

Attendance Allowance helpline: 0800 731 0122 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, calls are free from mobiles and landlines) 

Textphone: 0800 731 0317 

Relay UK – if you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 731 0122 

It’s a good idea to keep a diary of your condition for at least a week before you fill in the form – particularly if you have bad days and good days. The diary will help you when you answer questions on the form. You can also send it with the form to support your claim. 


How to claim Attendance Allowance (EWS) § Keeping a diary 

Where can I get help with business debts?

Business Debtline are experts in dealing with business debts. You can call them on 0800 197 6026, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm.

You can also get advice online at 

Where can I get help with sorting out my debts?

To help you begin to sort out your debts we have information on our website which covers: work out how much money you owe, which debts you should pay back first, how to get free statutory credit reports, sample letters and more. 

In addition you could download a step by step guide from National Debtline called ‘How To Deal With Debt’ which has clear advice for every step of the process:  

If after reading the information above you find that you require further support, you may wish to contact a debt advice organisation such as: 

You could also call the Citizens Advice debt helpline – it’s available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 240 4420.  

You can also talk to us online about a debt problem using chat – we can usually help between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday. 

If you have any debt emergencies such as court forms or visits for bailiffs, please contact us immediately as there may be deadlines to meet. 

What can I do about a problem at work?

If you have a concern, problem or complaint at work, you might want to take this up with your employer. This is called ‘raising a grievance’. 

You might want to raise a grievance about things like: 

  • things you are being asked to do as part of your job 
  • the terms and conditions of your employment contract – for example, your pay 
  • the way you’re being treated at work – for example, if you’re not given a promotion when you think you should be 
  • bullying 
  • discrimination at work – for example, you might think your work colleagues are harassing you because you because of your race, age, disability or sexual orientation 

It may be possible to sort out your complaint by simply talking to your employer informally. 


How to raise a formal grievance 

Your employer should have a formal procedure for raising a grievance. You should try to follow this, where possible. You should be able to find details of your employer’s grievance procedure in your Company Handbook, HR or Personnel manual, on your HR intranet site or in your contract of employment. 

If your employer doesn’t have a formal procedure, you can follow the Acas Code of Practice. 

The Code of Practice sets out standards of fairness and reasonable behaviour that employers and employees are expected to follow in most situations when dealing with a dispute. 

If you do end up making a claim to an employment tribunal, there is a strict time limit within which you’ll need to make your claim. This is usually three months minus one day from the date that the thing you are complaining about last happened. 

What can I do if I have problems with my employer paying me?

Your employer should pay you on time for work you’ve done – they should pay you on your agreed pay day. You can challenge your employer if: 

  • they haven’t paid your wages 
  • they’ve underpaid you 
  • they’ve deducted some or all of your wages – and you don’t agree with their reason 

If you have a payslip, you can check it to help you work out exactly what the problem is. You should talk to your employer to find out why they haven’t paid you what you expected. If they’ve made a mistake, ask them to pay you straight away. You shouldn’t have to wait until your next pay day. 

If you think your pay is wrong or you haven’t been paid, the best thing you can do is talk to your employer to find out why. If you and your employer can’t agree on how much you should have been paid, you can challenge them. 

You should act quickly – it’ll be much harder to get your money back after 3 months from the date the problem arose. 

If you are a member of a trade union you could speak to them to ask for support. You can also raise a grievance and if this is not successful you could speak with ACAS for further support. 

How do I get my landlord to carry out repairs in my private rental property?

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs to your home if you rent privately. This includes: 

  • the structure of the property, for example walls, roof, windows and doors 
  • sinks, baths, toilets 
  • pipes and wiring 
  • heating and hot water, for example the boiler 
  • the safety of gas and electrical appliances 

You’ll be responsible for minor repairs, for example changing fuses and light bulbs. You’ll also have to fix anything you’ve damaged. You won’t be responsible for repairing damage caused by other people, for example vandalism. 

If your home is damp, your landlord might not be responsible. It depends on what type of damp it is – and what caused it. Read more about problems with damp. 


If your home isn’t safe for you to live in 

If your home isn’t safe to live in, it might be ‘unfit for human habitation’ – this includes shared parts of the building like entrance halls and stairs. 

Your landlord has to make sure your home is fit for human habitation. This applies to most types of tenancy – if your landlord doesn’t do this, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. 

Your home might be unfit for human habitation if for example: 

  • it has a serious problem with damp or mould 
  • it gets much too hot or cold 
  • there are too many people living in it 
  • it’s infested with pests like rats or cockroaches 
  • it doesn’t have a safe water supply 

It doesn’t matter if the problem was there at the start of the tenancy or only appeared later. 

Write to your landlord as soon as you notice a problem. You could be held responsible if it gets worse. It’s best to put it in writing – send it to your landlord and keep a copy yourself. 

If a letting agent manages the property for your landlord, write to them and they should talk to your landlord. The letting agent will be responsible for making sure your landlord does the repairs. 

You should get evidence of the problem, for example: 

  • photos of the damage, particularly if the problem gets worse over time 
  • any letters, texts, emails or notes of any conversations between you and your landlord or letting agent 
  • receipts if you’ve had to replace damaged items 
  • letters from your GP if the problem has made you ill 
  • a copy of your tenancy agreement 

Keep any evidence you’ve got – you might need it later if you have to take further action to get repairs done. 

Getting repairs done if you’re renting privately-  


If your landlord won’t do the repairs 

Keep paying your rent. If you don’t, you’ll get into rent arrears and your landlord might then try to evict you. 

You can complain about your landlord or complain about your letting agent if they won’t do the repairs. 

Your landlord can’t just end your tenancy because you’ve made a complaint – but they might try, especially if you’ve got an assured shorthold tenancy. 

Talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re worried about being evicted for making a complaint. 

What can I do if my landlord wants to increase my rent?

Your landlord can’t just increase your rent whenever they like, or by any amount. They need to follow certain rules if they want you to pay more – these depend on the type of tenancy you have. 

Your rent can go up if you agree to it or sign a new agreement. There’s no limit on agreed rent increases for assured shorthold tenants. 

If you get Housing Benefit (or housing costs payments through Universal Credit) you might be able to get extra money to deal with your rent increase. Tell the housing team at the council about the increase before it starts and send evidence, for example a letter from your landlord. 

It’s important to be aware that once you pay the higher amount it legally becomes your new rent – even if you tell your landlord you are unhappy with the increase. 

You do not have to agree to an increase. But your landlord could take steps to end your tenancy if you do not agree. For example, by giving you a section 21 notice. 

You can negotiate if you cannot afford a rent increase or think it’s too much. Your landlord might prefer to keep you as a tenant rather than having to find someone new.  

For example, you could tell your landlord: 

  • that the increase they’re asking for is above market rent 
  • that you could agree to a lower rent increase if it’s affordable 
  • about your financial situation, especially if you cannot get more local housing allowance 

Negotiation is usually the only way to challenge a rent increase if your landlord has used a rent review clause. Some tenants can challenge a section 13 rent increase through a tribunal. 

How do I complain about my neighbour?

If your neighbour is noisy or stops you feeling comfortable, try to discuss it with them if you can. If that doesn’t work there are other ways you can ask them to stop, for example by reporting them to the council. 

Keep records 

Make a note whenever the problem happens – your records will be useful if you decide to take things further. 

Write as much detail as possible. Include what happened, the length of time and how it affected you. For example, ‘22 June – dogs barking from 10:15am to 12:35pm. Loud enough to hear in living room – had to turn up my radio’. 

Keep any messages your neighbour sends you and collect evidence if you feel safe to. For example, take a photo of rubbish that’s been dumped in your garden. 

Talking to your neighbour 

Only talk to your neighbour if you feel safe and comfortable. 

It’s quicker to talk face to face – but you can write, text or call if that’s easier. You can take someone with you for support. 

Tell your neighbour how their behaviour is affecting you and what would help. Listen to your neighbour and see if you can reach a compromise together. 

If you think it’s anti-social behaviour 

If your neighbour’s behaviour is classed as ‘anti-social’ there are steps you can take to stop it happening. It’s likely to be anti-social behaviour if it causes ‘nuisance and annoyance’. This could be, for example, if they: 

  • make a lot of noise 
  • dump rubbish 
  • write graffiti 
  • have a dog that barks a lot or causes trouble 
  • use your garden without permission 
  • harass you because of religion, race, gender, disability or another characteristic 

If you know your neighbour is renting and who from, talk to their landlord first – this might be a private landlord, housing association or the council. 

If that doesn’t sort out the problem you can go to the council if you haven’t already talked to them. Check their website for how to complain about anti-social behaviour. 

You can go straight to the council if: 

  • you don’t know whether your neighbour rents or owns 
  • they rent but you don’t know who from 
  • they own their home 

You can find your council on GOV.UK. 

If you’re unhappy with the council or landlord’s response 

If there have been a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour, you might be able to get the problem looked at again – this is called a ‘community trigger’. Check your local council’s website for how it works in your area. 

If you’re still not happy with a housing association or the council, complain using their complaints process – you’ll find it on their website.  

If you still think they haven’t acted as they should, you can go to an ombudsman. They’ll look at your complaint and decide if the council or housing association should put things right. 

To complain about a housing association, go to the Housing Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman won’t accept your case until 8 weeks after your housing association or council gave you their final response. 

How do I sort out child arrangements after a relationship breakdown?

If your relationship ends and you have children, you’ll need to agree where your children live. You’ll also need to decide how much time they spend with each of you. This is called making ‘child arrangements’. 

Child arrangements are usually an informal agreement – but it can help to write them down. It will be useful to refer back to this in the future, if you can’t remember what you agreed or something isn’t working.  

You can make your own or print one and fill it in. Make sure both you and your ex-partner have a copy. You can change your plan together at any time. 

You’ll only need to go to court if there’s been violence or abuse in your relationship, or you really can’t agree. 

You should always get help making child arrangements if your partner makes you feel anxious or threatened. Refuge and Women’s Aid can give you advice, emotional and practical support and information about where else to get help. They run a 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247 

If you’re a man affected by domestic abuse you can call Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

Making child arrangements (EW) 

The Child Law Advice Service provides legal advice and information on family, child and education law affecting children and families in England. This service is provided via a website packed with how to guides and information pages. Should you require further assistance after reading through the website, there is an email advice service and a dedicated intensive support telephone lines for complex matters and clarifying questions. 

Child Law Advice covers legal issues that may arise following relationship breakdown as well as Local Authority intervention and child protection issues.  


How do I get a divorce / end my civil partnership?

If you want to end your marriage, you can apply for a divorce. If you want to end your civil partnership, you can apply for a dissolution. The process is the same for both. 

You don’t need to give a reason to get a divorce or dissolution – this is sometimes called ‘no fault’. 

You can only get a divorce or dissolution after you’ve been married or in your civil partnership for at least 1 year. If it’s been under 1 year you can find out how to separate from your partner. 

You might be able to get divorced/ a dissolution without needing a solicitor or going to court if you and your ex-partner can agree you both want a divorce/dissolution. 

A divorce or dissolution will take at least 6 months to complete, even if your circumstances are straightforward. It might take longer if you need to sort out issues with money, property or children.

Before you apply, you’ll also need to decide: 

If you’re in the UK as a dependant on your partner’s visa, you’ll also need to check if you can stay in the UK on a visa after separation or a divorce. 

Getting a divorce or ending your civil partnership (EW) 

You’ll need to pay a court fee of £593 when you apply for a divorce or dissolution. You might also have other costs if you’re going to use a solicitor. 

You can share the court fee with your partner. If you’re sharing the fee with your partner but you’re going to make the application, get payment from your partner before you pay the fee.   

Check if you can get help with the court fee 

If you’ll struggle to pay the court fee you might be able to get help with it. For example, you might get help if you get benefits or have a low income.  

You should apply for help with the court fee before you apply for a divorce or dissolution. 

If only one of you is eligible for help, it’s best for that person to make a sole application for the divorce or dissolution. If you’re making a joint application with your partner, you can only get help with the court fee if you’re both eligible. 

You can check if you can get help with your court fee on GOV.UK.  

Deciding if you need a solicitor 

You may wish to get legal advice before you start your divorce or dissolution.  

A solicitor can:   

  • speak to your partner and their solicitor so you don’t have to 
  • represent you in court – this means they’ll talk for you so you don’t have to  
  • make sure you get the best result 

Make sure you get a solicitor who specialises in divorce or dissolution. You might need to look outside your local area. 

You can find a solicitor on the Resolution website. 

You can also check how to find free or affordable legal help 

It’s quicker to apply for your divorce or dissolution online. If you’re using a solicitor they’ll do this for you.  

You can: 

apply online for a divorce on GOV.UK 

apply online for a dissolution on GOV.UK 

How do I find legal advice?

We have information on our website about finding legal help: Finding free or affordable legal help 

It is also worth checking your subscriptions, insurance policies and credit card agreements to see if these provide help with legal expenses.  

The Law Society has a ‘find a solicitor’ function as well as information on using a solicitor.   

Before deciding which solicitor to use, you may want to ask the following questions: 

  • What will the solicitor do for me 
  • How much will this solicitor cost compared to others 
  • What do I get for my money 
  • How often has the solicitor handled this type of work 
  • How long will it take for the legal work to be completed 
  • What can I do if something goes wrong, or I am not satisfied with the service. 

We have a list of local solicitors, please contact us if you would like a copy. 

Connect to Support Hampshire is a useful resource to help you find local groups, activities and services within the community (including care providers and other paid services) that help you stay independent. Visit website

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