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Financial difficulties paying your bill with Southern Water?

Southern Water provide four help schemes for those having financial issues paying their water bill, as they understand the problems many face in difficult economic times.

Water Direct

This scheme is for those claiming JSA, ESA, income support or pension credit. The Job Centre often considers paying Southern Water directly from your benefits and will take a fixed amount if you fall into £50 arrears to cover what you owe. If you want to be considered for this assistance scheme you can call Southern Water or complete and online application form.


This system is for those who can prove they can start paying any owed water bill arrears in regular instalments. If they do so the company will credit your account with an amount equal to what you pay.
The number is paid annually if you successfully make your payments weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You must owe Southern Water at least £600 or have not paid a bill in the last two year to qualify for this scheme. Again, to apply for the scheme you can use the contact number or fill out the online form.


If you satisfy a certain criteria, use a large amount of water supplied by a water meter, you may be able to apply for a bill reduction. The will reduce your bill by £410 between April 2015 to March 2016 if you qualify for the scheme. You, or someone in your household must be receiving one of the following tax credits or benefits:

· Child Tax Credit (more than the family element)

· Housing Benefit

· Income-based JSA

· Income Support

· Means-tested Council Tax Benefit (not including reductions/discounts)

· Pension Credit

· Working Tax Credit

· Income related ESA

And also be either responsible for three or more children that are living at home and under 19 in full time education, or you, your child or person who receives the benefit have a specific medical condition that means the water usage is higher than normal. The medical conditions are:

· Abdominal stoma

· Crohn’s disease

· Desquamation (flaky skin disease)

· Eczema, psoriasis or varicose ulceration (weeping skin disease)

· Incontinence

· Ulcerative colitis

· Renal failure (where they need home dialysis)

· Another condition which means they have to use a lot of extra water

To apply you can complete an online application form, but must also send some supporting documents as evidence. These can be:

· A photocopy of a prescription form/doctor’s certificate

· A photocopy of the latest ‘notice of entitlement’ to Child Benefit for each child

· A photocopy of the latest ‘notice of entitlement’ for benefits or tax credit

· A doctor’s certificate or a letter from a GP or consultant confirming that this condition needs extra water

Essentials Tariff

In the case your Southern Water charges are worth 5% or more of your household’s total income after housing cost deductions, you could qualify for discounted Essential Tariff for future payments. There is also an online form for this – taking around 20-30 minutes to complete - if you do not wish to call. You will need to have your payment reference number, income and expenditure details, NI number and personal details to hand when doing so.

Completing the online form

All of the above tariffs and schemes require you to fill out a Financial Assistance application form. If you have any trouble doing so, don’t forget you can seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau Money Advice Service or StepChange Debt Charity who can do a simple online debt check for you.

The impact of fat, oil and grease on your drains

Though it should be common knowledge, there are some surprising statistics about the effect of pouring any fat, oil and grease down your drains. Southern Water is one of the utility firms that are trying to make all customers aware of the dangers, encouraging everybody to make some small changes at home and businesses.

The impact

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) account for 75 percent of drain and sewer blockages reported to Southern Water, usually coming from residual food-prep fat, oil, butter, margarine or lard that has been poured down the sink in impatience.

Over £15 million has been spent on clearing FOG blockages across the country, with 3000 homes flooded because of it every year. As it collects in pipes and sewer systems the FOG solidifies into a material as thick as concrete, restricting the flow of wastewater and causing it to back up through sinks and toilets and potentially escape through manholes in the streets.

Adding to the rising pollution in the country, the issue affects networks, homes and businesses and often puts wastewater pumping stations out of action meaning teams upon teams of operative work is needed to keep our sewers flowing smoothly.

Environmental effects

As the fat jams cause household appliances to be plumbed incorrectly, dirty waste water is in hand pumped into the streams and rivers rather than to cleaning treatment works. Undeniably, sewers flooding into your neighbourhood and polluting streams have a harmful effect on the environment; human errors that can be eradicated quite simply.

Effects on homes and businesses

Besides the environmental issues, FOG blockages can be costly to businesses who fail to dispose of waste properly. Simple changes can be made to avoid expensive repairs that often mean businesses have to close while they are being done.

To prevent kitchen FOG build ups you should ideally be wiping and scraping plates and utensils of all foodstuffs and disposing of it in the main rubbish bin before washing them. Strainers should be used in the plughole to collect any food so none is flushed down the pipes.

It’s useful to pour or scrape any grease or oily food waste into a container or jar, allowing it to cool before throwing it away in the usual waste. You can also use fat traps to collect excess oil if you think you will need to dispose of it often.

In the bathroom pipes are usually only four inches wide, so despite the packaging of some wet wipes they are not suitable to be flushed down the toilet. Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed.

Whose responsibility is a blocked sewer?

If you are a customer of Southern Water you can call them to establish whether a FOG build-up is a public or private problem. If they determine that the issue lies in your private drain you must contact a drainage company independently, who can resolve it for you.

If Southern Water are unable to conclude where the FOG has come from over the phone they will arrange a visit to examine the pipes. They will ask you to sign a consent form if they find the blockage is in your private drain and they will clear it if it can be done quickly.

There are many other companies who offer free fat and oil collection. Ensure the waste carrier is a part of the Environment Agency and the fat will go onto be recycled, producing fuel and generating electricity.

Driving licence issues with the VOSA

To drive in the United Kingdom, you need a valid licence. Licences vary from vehicle to vehicle; a regular driving licence does not entitle you to drive a motorcycle, an HGV or a bus. Each different type of vehicle requires a different licence, proving that you are capable of driving the particular vehicle.

For new UK residents, you may need to apply for a UK licence if your current licence is not regarded as a valid driving licence. Through the DVSA, you can apply for a provisional licence, change your current licence, popular edits include name changes and updated photographs, and renew your photo-card licence should it be approaching or past its expiry date.

There are a variety of different categories of driving licence and, depending on when you first passed your driving test, your driving licence will differ from other people’s.

You may also wish to contact the DVSA to discuss penalty points that you’ve received following a driving offence.

Applying for a driving licence through the VOSA

Whether you are applying for your provisional licence or your HGV licence, you can do so through the DVSA.

For a provisional driving licence, you need to be aged 17 or over (barring certain circumstances that involve PIP receivers) and you must meet the minimum eyesight requirements. More information about minimum eyesight requirements can be found here. You must be a resident of Great Britain, but keep in mind that there is a different driving licence service for Northern Ireland.

When applying, you will need to pay a fee of £34, paid by credit or debit card. You’ll also need a valid UK passport, or another form of identity, and know your National Insurance number. You are also required to provide addresses of anywhere you’ve lived over the past three years.

This information is correct for standard car licence applications. If you are applying for another licence, such as an HGV or motorcycle licence, we recommend you research the specific licence as there are a number of regulations that vary based on the vehicle you are applying for.

Changing or renewing your driving licence

You can renew your licence online, provided you have not changed your name or you are not renewing a 5 year truck or bus licence. A photo-card licence must be renewing every 10 years. Renewal costs £14.

There is no renewal charge if you are aged 70 or over. At the age of 70 or over, your licence must be renewed every three years. You can find out more about renewal requirements by calling the Prove I Called VOSA Contact Number.

To change details on your licence, such as your name, title, photograph and address, you will need to head online to the DVSA website and either download the correct form or complete an online application. Name and title changes require a posted form. Photo and address changes can be completed online.

Booking driving and theory tests with the VOSA

In order to receive a full driving licence, you will first need to pass a driving theory and a driving practical test. A theory test pass is required before you can book a driving test date. Having passed your theory test, you have two years to pass your practical test. Your pass expires after two years, meaning you will have to book another theory test and pay the booking fee again.

Theory and practical driving tests must be booked for a specific time and date. This is due to the high demand for the two. Theory tests are booked in order to guarantee a place in front of a testing computer. Practical tests require the presence of a certified instructor, hence the need of a booking.

When am I allowed to book a theory or practical driving test?

As long as you have a provisional driving licence, you will be able to book a theory test. You will need to pass your theory test before you book a practical test, aside from certain extenuating circumstances.

To book a theory test, you will need your provisional driving licence number, an email address (to receive a booking confirmation) and a credit or debit card, in order to pay for the booking fee. The booking fee for a car theory test is £23, the price is the same for a motorcycle theory test.

To book a practical driving test, you will need to have passed a theory test, your Great Britain driving licence number and a credit or debit card to pay the £62 driving test fee. The fee rises to £75 if you book a test after 4.30pm, on a weekend or a bank holiday.

What do I bring to a practical driving test?

You’ll need to bring your driving theory pass certificate and your provisional driving licence. If you do not have a photographic licence, you’ll need to bring a valid passport. Your test will be cancelled if you don’t have the correct documents and your fee will not be refunded.

Call the Prove I Called VOSA Contact Number for more information.

MOT and vehicle testing with the VOSA

MOT stands for the Ministry Of Transport. An MOT test is a full check of a vehicle, making sure it is in road legal shape. It is a legal requirement to MOT your vehicle once a year, as long as the vehicle is three years old or more.

Certain vehicles must be checked when they are a year old, you can find out more about which motor vehicles need this be visiting the DVSA website or by calling the Prove I Called VOSA Contact Number.

You cannot drive your vehicle if the MOT has run out. There are only two exceptions to this rule. You are allowed to drive to a place for repairs. You can also drive to a pre-arranged MOT test. However, it is a lot safer to renew your MOT before its expiry date. You are able to renew your MOT a month before its expiry date.

How do I get an MOT for my car?

When booking an MOT, you need to select an approved MOT test centre. You can tell if a mechanic or repair shop is approved as they will display a blue sign with three upward pointing triangles. To book an MOT, simply call up an approved centre. Agree a time, drop your car off on the day and they’ll complete the MOT.

If your car fails its MOT, you will need to pay for the repairs that will allow your car to pass an MOT. An MOT does not take into account the condition of the engine, gearbox or clutch.

How much does an MOT cost?

Prices will vary from mechanic to mechanic, though there is a maximum price that they can charge. The maximum price depends on the type of vehicle. For a comprehensive list of the maximum price that an MOT centre can charge, take a look at the DVSA website.

What vehicles do not require an MOT?

There are a few vehicles that do not legally require a regular MOT. These include tractors, cars and motorbikes produced before 1960 and goods vehicles powered by electricity.

Wonga – loan applications

Loan eligibility

There are various short-term loan amounts available via Wonga, all of which are said to be flexible. Eligibility for a Wonga loan is largely determined by a customer's ability to meet repayments. Credit checks also influence whether or not you will be granted your loan. Just because you may have been granted a previous Wonga loan, another loan isn't always guaranteed.

Stringent eligibility criteria is in place including:

Age - applicants must be 18+ years old

Credit checks - applicants must hold a satisfactory credit history with Callcredit Ltd/Experian Ltd (these are Wonga's main points of credit reference).

Existing debt - a Wonga loan should not as they suggest be taken out to manage current debt.

Application process

Online calculator

Wonga's website has two handy sliders which will help you calculate loan amount and repayments. Simply set one slider to indicate how much you would like to borrow and the other slider to how long you wish to borrow it for. Thankfully the Wonga calculator will do all the maths for you and give a repayment amount including interest.

There are two options to choose from including:

An instalment loan = as the name suggests this allows repayments made in instalments over 3 months.

A short-term loan = this is a flexible option and is ideal for unexpected expenses.

Selecting your loan depends on your individual circumstances.

Personal info required

Applying for your Wonga loan is pretty straightforward and can be carried out online. There is information you can have ready prior to beginning your application which will speed the process.

You will need:

· Your basic personal information i.e. full name, contact details, work status and number of dependents etc.

· Your average outgoings including: mortgage/rent, credit commitments, utility bills, transport, food and other general monthly expenses.

Please note that if you are unsure of any of the questions, a member of the Wonga team is just a call away. Lines are open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Once your application is completed you should receive a decision about your loan via email within a matter of 3 working days.

Wonga – making a complaint

Reasons to complain to Wonga

Despite having tightened their approach to lending in recent years, Wonga occasionally still get things wrong. Poor customer service and payment quibbles are just two of the common reasons people have for calling to complain. Thankfully, one call to Wonga should put you in contact with an advisor able to address your issue - fast.

Ways to complain to Wonga

Wonga suggest that they always do everything in their power to resolve customer grievances. To air your complaint you can choose to call, write or email using the following contact details.

By phone:

Wonga customer service phone lines are open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year - ensuring there is always somebody there to take your call.

By email:

Complaints can also be emailed to

Including the following information may significantly speed the complaints process:

· Your full name

· The email address associated with your Wonga account

· Full details of the complaint including any supporting documentation

· Suggestions of how Wonga could possibly put things right

By post:

Prefer to write to Wonga? Please send any written complaints to:

The Complaints Manager


S95 1AR

The next step

If you choose to complain via post or email you can expect a response within 5 working days. Wonga suggest that they always try and reach a solution as quickly as possible. The whole process typically takes no longer than 8 weeks and you should receive regular updates along the way.

Still not happy?

You may feel that a Financial Ombudsman is required at this stage. If so, please contact:

The Financial Ombudsman Service

Exchange Tower

Harbour Exchange Square


E14 9SR


Please note that you can also find out more at

Alternative ways to complain

If dissatisfied after the initial Wonga complaints stage you can then choose to contact the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA).

The contact details required are:

The Compliance Manager

Finance & Leasing Association

Imperial House

15-19 Kingsway




Please note that complaints forms are available online via

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Becoming a driving instructor with VOSA

There are certain people in the world that would like to be driving instructors. This short guide will explain the various requirements that you must fulfil in order to become a registered driving instructor. If you have any questions about the application process, you can call the Prove I Called VOSA Contact Number.

What requirements are there to become an approved driving instructor?

To become a driving instructor, you must be aged 21 or over. You must also have had a full driving licence for at least three years. You must also include a current criminal record check for driving instructors. Your application should be made through the DVSA. Penalty points and driving disqualifications can affect your application.

You will not be able to apply to be an instructor if your licence only covers the use of automatic cars. The one exception is if you are limited to automatic cars because of a disability. If this is the case, you may be able to apply to become an instructor.

Are there any tests that must be passed before I can become an instructor?

There are three qualifying ADI (Approved driving instructor) tests that must be passed before you can be approved. Each of these tests comes with a testing fee, £81 for the first and £111 for each of the second and third tests.

Following your successful completion of these tests, there are further fees to pay. Your first ADI certificate costs £300, with each subsequent renewal costing £300. A trainee driving instructor licence will cost £140. Fees will differ if you are applying in Northern Ireland.

What can I do if I have been suspended?

There are a number of reasons that approved instructors may be suspended. If the DVSA believe you to be a threat to public safety, you will be suspended. This can be because of a criminal conviction or poor driving safety advice given to your students.

You can appeal to a judicial review if you believe the ADI registrar has made a mistake. However, bear in mind that the review does not consider whether the decision was correct, rather they check that the correct procedures have been followed.

Wonga – repayment problems

Experiencing payment problems

Despite planning for every eventuality, there are sometimes unexpected expenses which mean you can’t meet your Wonga repayments. Such circumstances are best addressed by speaking directly to a member of Wonga’s customer services team.

Can’t pay your Wonga loan on time?

If you are experiencing problems in meeting your payment dates there are options available. To make life easier we have listed a quick step-by-step process of what to do.

Step 1. Call Wonga customer services – lines are open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year.

Step 2. You will be asked to complete an income and expenditure form (this stage can be completed online).

Step 3. Wonga may be able to create a payment plan for you. Establishing a repayment plan can mean that interest is frozen.

Late payments

Not meeting your Wonga repayment dates on time can result in extra costs.

Typical fees are:

At least £15 will be charged by 11pm on the third day after your due payment day. Continued interest will also be added for up to 30 days after your repayment day. Reassuringly, you should never have to pay more than double your original loan amount.

Please note that you can access payment set-up details via your online Wonga account at

Debt Advice

Struggling with debt can be a frightening experience but with the right guidance it needn’t be. If you require specialist advice on how to manage your debt why not visit:

Step Change Debt Charity - more information can be found online at or by calling their dedicated team. Lines are available from 8am until 8pm on a Monday to Friday and from 8am until 4pm on a Saturday.

You may also like to try:

The National Debtline – further info is available at and you can call from 9am until 9pm on a Monday to Friday and from 9.30am until 1pm on a Saturday.


The Citizens Advice Bureau – find out more via, alternatively pop into your local branch (please note that times may vary).

Want to check your credit rating?

This is a useful way in which to ascertain how your credit score may have been effected by missed or late loan payments. To have a look click onto one of the following:





Managing your Wonga account

Wonga account services

From setting up loan repayments and changing your bank details to updating personal information and changing account passwords, there are many advantages to having a Wonga online account in place. Of course, if you can’t find the services you are looking for, why not call the Wonga customer services team? Lines are open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year.

Your ‘how to’ guide

To make life a little easier we have created a ‘how to’ guide addressing some of the most commonly asked about questions.

Q. How do I change my bank account details?

A. Please note that you will only be able to update bank details if your do not owe Wonga any money. To make changes simply click onto the ‘Payment’ section of your online Wonga account.

Q. I want to change my password, what do I do?

A. This can be easily done via the, ‘Contact Details’ section of your online account.

Q. My employment details have changed, can I update them?

A. Simply log onto your account and head for the, ‘Personal Details’ section.

Q. Is it possible to view my loan history?

A. Unfortunately, your loan history can’t currently be accesses via your Wonga account, however this is a service which may be available in the future.

Q. How long will my PIN number take to arrive?

A. Busy periods may mean that PIN numbers can take longer than anticipated to arrive but be patient, it will reach you – by text. If you feel that no PIN has been sent, another PIN can be easily requested by clicking, ‘resend PIN’ online.

Having difficulty using the online account service?

If you are having trouble managing your online Wonga account or you simply want to raise an enquiry please call the Wonga customer services team. With account lines open from 8am until 6pm on a Monday to Saturday, there is plenty of time to speak with a dedicated Wonga representative. General customer service lines are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, all year round for your convenience.