We know times are hard at the moment. On this page you will find useful hints and tips to help you make the most of your money and advice on where to go if you need more help.
- Claiming benefits
- Help to pay your Council Tax
- Help to pay essential bills
- Tips to help you manage your money
- Advice and support
- Credit Unions
- Loan sharks
If you are struggling financially then make sure you are claiming all the money you are allowed to.
Use the Government's benefits calculator to see what you could claim. This should only be used as a guide and the results may differ from what you are actually offered.
The Government is providing a £150 one-off Energy Bills Rebate for most households in council tax bands A-D. Details about the discretionary scheme and how to apply for this will be available from April 2022. Find out more details about the Energy Bills Rebate.
If your household income is low, you might be able to get help towards reducing your water bill. Apply online at www.bigdiff.co.uk, read pdf The Big Difference scheme leaflet (70 KB) for more information.
Are you struggling to pay your energy bills due to low income, job losses, reduced pay or higher usage? Act on Energy, a local charity, provides FREE support to any resident living in Worcestershire. They offer a free advice through their helpline, support to access funding for heating and insulation, home visits for support vulnerable households and free energy awareness sessions for professionals and community groups. Contact Act on Energy for more details, visit the Act On Energy website or call 0800 988 2881.
- If you are worried about your finances, then seek help as soon as possible. South
Worcestershire Citizens’ Advice provide a free advice service that is independent, confidential and impartial. They can help with benefits, debt, money advice, housing, employment and more, call their freephone for more information: 0808 2787 891.
- If you would like to find out more about making your money go further, cutting food and fuel bills, helping the environment and reducing food waste by accessing facilities such as community fridges, along with a range of other support to help keep things or to get back on track then please go to our Coronavirus Support page. Many of these services are available to all residents, regardless of household income.
Create a budget
Creating a budget will help you live within your means and avoid getting into debt with loans and credit cards. A budget is a financial plan which lists the money coming into your household (income) against the money going out (expenses). It will also help you work out what you need to spend money on and what you want to spend money on.
To work out a budget for your household follow the steps below:
- List your monthly income
- List your recurring monthly expenses
- Take away your expenses from your income
If your expenses are more than your income, work out how to cut unnecessary spending. You can then develop a savings plan if there is any money left over.
Use the Money Advice Service's online budget planner to help you.
Tips to help you manage your money
- Keep track of your spending. Only spend money you have and avoid getting into debt.
- Plan ahead and protect against unexpected costs or events. Save money if you can.
- Make informed choices. Pay the bills you must pay first (rent/mortgage, Council Tax, living costs).
- Control your spending. Make sure you only buy the important things and don’t buy anything you don’t need. Keep a spending diary.
- Use price comparison websites and switching services to get the best deals on things like your gas and electricity supply, your phone contract and your weekly food shop.
- When you are food shopping, make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Understand what might happen if you lost your job or you got into debt.
- Renegotiate credit card repayments/loan repayments to reduce your monthly out-goings or pay more if you can afford it.
- Do not borrow money from payday lenders with excessive interest rates or Loan Sharks. Try a credit union instead. Visit sixtowns.co.uk for more information.
- Look at ways of increasing your income. Sell things you don’t need, check you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to, look for new work or development opportunities with your existing employer.
- Look at ways to cut your expenses. Shop around for the best deals, cook your own food and eat what you buy. The average family household throws £700 of food away every year. Visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for help.
If you are worried about your finances, then seek help as soon as possible.
Call South Worcestershire Citizens’ Advice Adviceline on 03444 111 303.
Call the Government backed Money Advice Service for free and impartial advice on 0800 138 7777.
Credit Unions are an alternative to high street banks. They are not-for-profit organisations created to support their members rather than shareholders. They can be used by anyone and offer a range of services including current accounts, savings accounts, Christmas saving accounts and loans.
They are a welcome alternative to pay day lenders and loan sharks which we advise you to avoid using.
Have you ever been offered a cash loan? Did they fail to give you paperwork? Did they add huge amounts of interest to your loan? Have they threatened you? Are you scared of people finding out? Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then you could have borrowed money from an illegal money lender, more commonly known as a loan shark. You are not alone. It is estimated 310,000 people across the UK are in debt to illegal money lenders. We support the work of the national Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness of what loan sharks are, support victims and direct people to safe and legal alternatives.
If you suspect a loan shark you can report in confidence by calling 0300 555 2222, text 078600 22116 or use the online form at www.stoploansharks.co.uk where you can also find more information.
If your income is low, you have a poor credit rating or you only need a small amount for a short period of time then there are alternatives to loan sharks that are legal and safe, such as a Credit Union.
If you are in debt and struggling then please seek financial advice.