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‘Get quacking’ – with less than a month to go

About 5.4 million taxpayers have less than a month to complete their Self Assessment tax returns before the 31 January deadline.

More than 11 million 2018 to 2019 tax returns are due back with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by the end of January. Around 54% of taxpayers have already filed their returns with more than 5.6 million of those completed online (89% of the total returns filed).

Citizens Advice says problems with parcels cost consumers at least £85 million a year

Citizens Advice estimates UK consumers have lost at least £85 million because of parcel problems in the last year. The average cost to the individual who had to pay out of pocket to fix a parcel problem is £15.50. This could include making telephone calls, replacing damaged or lost items, or travel to return the item in person or drop off at a depot.

The charity, which is the statutory consumer advocate for postal services, says the scale of the problem with parcels is a sign of a broken market, rather than simply isolated bad practice.

Problems include parcels being left in an insecure location, delivery instructions being ignored, damaged contents, and parcels arriving late or not at all. For 1 in 6 people, a parcel delivery going wrong caused stress or anxiety.

Citizens Advice found it takes on average 2 hours to fix a parcel problem for those who took the time to do so. Over half of people who tried to address their most recent parcel problem experienced further issues, such as struggling to find contact information or having to chase up their complaint multiple times.

Don’t become a statistic this Black Friday

The UK ECC offers these guidelines for buying from online marketplaces:

• make sure you know who are you buying from
Online marketplaces will often indicate who the goods are being sold by and if so, you can often visit the seller’s page. This way you can establish whether or not it is an individual seller or a business.

• check out your consumer rights for online purchases and ensure you know who is responsible if things go wrong
Your consumer rights are with the seller of the goods, not the marketplace itself. The best way of thinking about this is to imagine you’re in an actual marketplace: if you purchase goods from the stallholder, that’s who your rights are with; not the owner of the marketplace.

RSPCA’s festive Stock the Sleigh appeal

The RSPCA has launched its festive appeal Stock the Sleigh to help needy animals this winter as it reveals last Christmas Day was its busiest for five years.

On 25 December 2018, the charity received 934 calls to its cruelty line – the highest number for five years and almost a third more than in 2017.

This year, the RSPCA is asking people to Stock the Sleigh for the RSPCA to help all the animals the charity cares for over the Christmas period.

Last December, there were more than 61,000 calls coming through to the charity’s cruelty line, up by more than 5,000 the previous year. Of these calls, 3,791 were logged in the East of England.

Whilst most people tuck into their Christmas dinners, the charity’s inspectors will be working 24 hours a day rescuing animals from pets to wildlife and bringing them to safety.

Some animals can spend weeks, months and sometimes years in our care receiving the treatment and rehabilitation they need.

E-shopping and sending parcels made easy for Thameslink rail users

Passengers using Bedford Train Station will soon be able to pick up, drop off and return their parcels as they hop on and off trains. This is thanks to a partnership between Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and InPost.

New automated lockers are being installed at Bedford Station and at ten other stations across the GTR network.

HMRC urges people to get their Self Assessment return in early

With 100 days to go before the 31 January deadline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is reminding customers to complete their tax returns early to beat the Christmas and New Year rush.

Last year more than 2,000 people sent us their tax returns on Christmas Day. Customers should consider submitting their returns early to avoid the stress of a last minute rush. By doing their Self Assessment return now, customers can start planning their festive activities.

Almost half of credit card holders have never switched providers

Millions of credit card customers could be paying more than they need in interest while missing out on potential benefits by not switching provider. Research from comparethemarket.com shows that nearly half of all UK credit card holders (45%) – equating to around 17 million people nationwide – have never switched their card.

Central Bedfordshire Council urges residents to take up the fight against scams

Central Bedfordshire Council’s trading standards is backing a grassroots scheme for a community-based effort against the spiralling number of scams and cons circulating throughout the area.

Friends Against Scams is coordinated by the National Trading Standards Scams Team and promoted by local trading standards teams nationally, and gives people the tools they need to recognise scams and to take steps to make a difference.

The first stage is to take a free,20-minute online training session or attend a presentation which raises awareness of the common types out there, the skills to avoid them and the confidence to spread the word to friends, neighbours and loved ones.

Last chance for Healthy Heart projects to get up to Heart Research UK £10,000 funding

Community groups in Anglia have just two weeks left to apply for a regional grant of up to £10,000 to help local people look after their hearts.

National charity Heart Research UK is urging groups to submit applications for the Heart Research UK and Subway® Healthy Heart Grant before the deadline.

The Grant is available for new and innovative projects that promote healthy hearts and reduce the risk of heart disease in the community.

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