Your consumer rights this Christmas 

People in the UK collectively spend billions of pounds at Christmas each year.

The average person spends about £1,000 more at Christmas than at any other time of the year. A big chunk of that goes on gifts for friends and family.

But what happens if those gifts need to go back to the shop? What if you're unhappy with the service you have received?

Whenever you buy something, you're protected by a set of rights.

Consumer Rights Act

Any product or service you buy must meet certain standards:

Mental health in the workplace

One in four people is likely to experience a mental health problem at some point.

Having a job tends to be good for your mental health. It lets you develop as a person and meet new people. Plus, it gives you an income to help you do the things you enjoy. It can also keep you busy and offer healthy challenges.

But work can trigger mental health problems, too.

Getting the balance right is important.

'Fake news' and your right to remove it

False information published to mislead people is sometimes called 'fake news'.

Fake news could be about a person, a company, an event or anything else.

It can be spread across the world within seconds on the internet.

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, for example, there was a lot of fake news spread about the virus including various conspiracy theories.

Fact checking websites like Full Fact can help to stop the spread of fake news.

Control of your images online 

A picture is worth a thousand words – so the saying goes.

Billions of photographs are uploaded to the internet every day. And because social media use is on the rise, so are the number of images being shared.

People like to share photos of themselves, their friends and things that they do.

But who owns the images you post? What can you do if someone posts images of you without your permission?

Copyright of images

Photos are generally protected by copyright. This means the person who took the photo usually owns it.

Buying and owning a pet

There are around 51 million pets in the UK. From dogs and cats, to parrots and rabbits, our pets prove we are a nation of animal-lovers.  Almost half of us own a pet.

Research shows that having an animal to care for can help people deal with anxiety and depression. With more people starting to work from home, many are looking for pets to keep them company.

At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, the number of people looking to buy a puppy rose by 168%.

But as the popularity of dogs rose, so did prices, along with the number of complaints about fraudulent sellers.

Clinical negligence: What you need to know

Healthcare professionals are there to help you get better. The care they give is usually very good. But sometimes things can go wrong.

Clinical negligence is when someone suffers harm because of the treatment they have been given – or not given – by a healthcare professional. It can also be called medical negligence.

Clinical negligence can result in physical harm or mental harm.

It can happen in the NHS or in a private healthcare setting. Healthcare professionals include

Your guide to defamation

Has someone said or written something false about you? Is what they said harming your reputation?

If so, you could be a victim of defamation.

There are two types of defamation: Libel and slander.

Libel is when the false statement is written – like in a newspaper or in a social media post.

Slander is when the false statement is spoken.

You do not need to be specifically named in the false statement to be a victim of defamation. But the statement must allow you to be identified.

Defamation cases are on the increase.

Know your rights on eviction

The Covid-19 pandemic has made things tough for lots of people who have rent or mortgages to pay.

Many are struggling, having lost their job or taken a pay cut.

The Government put additional rules in place at the beginning of the lockdown to make sure people were not made homeless as a result of the pandemic.

Between 23 March and 20 September 2020, no one could be evicted from their home – even if they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage.

Moving house during Covid-19

Coronavirus disrupted the property market for a while, but now people can buy and sell houses again in England and Wales. And the market is busy. Estate agents are open, viewings are taking place and house sales are being completed.

Demand is greater than supply, possibly as a result of the lockdown, with some people looking for more living space and a garden as they expect to spend more time at home. Added to this, until April 2021, there is no stamp duty payable on homes up to a value of £500,000. For many, now is a good time to move.

Relationship breakdown during Covid-19

The virus has changed every aspect of our lives.

The restrictions on who we can and can't see means our closest relationships have come into sharp focus.

For some, problems that simmered under the surface are bubbling over.

Even some happy couples have cracked under the strain.

Divorce and separation cases have risen since March.

But help is there for those who need it.

Mediation

Mediation is a way to agree the terms of your separation or divorce without going to court.