Financial management advice
On this page you will find help for anyone struggling with money due to the recent recession's effects on the UK economy and the welfare reforms, as well as some useful contacts from whom you can obtain free advice.
Free benefit and pension entitlement check
You can still visit or phone Citizens Advice to find out, for free, if you are missing out on any benefits.
You will need to have the following details to hand:
- Your earnings, net and gross
- Any benefits or tax credits you are currently receiving, with values
- Any maintenance payments you are receiving, with values
- Any other income you are receiving, e.g. pension
- Any savings you have, e.g. ISAs, National Savings Certificates, capital and income bonds, life insurance policies, shares, etc.
- Details of any mortgage
- Details of any rent payments
- Your home's council tax band and value
State Pension calculator
Calculate when you'll reach State Pension age or Pension Credit qualifying age and how much you may get in today's money for your basic State Pension using the GOV.UK State Pension calculator.
Additional State Pension
If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 you may be eligible for additional State Pension. The Additional State Pension is an extra amount of money you could get with your basic State Pension. It's based on your National Insurance contributions. Find out more on GOV.UK.
Sources of help
The current economic climate means many individuals and families are struggling to stay on top of rent and tax payments, as their finances are stretched to breaking point. An increase in redundancies and a higher cost of borrowing, along with generally higher prices for food and fuel, is putting tremendous pressure on millions of people across the country.
Although getting into debt is extremely stressful, and it can be tempting to simply pretend that it's not happening, the golden rule you should remember when struggling financially is: do not ignore the problem.
Burying your head in the sand will not improve your situation; in fact it is likely to lead to even more debt.
The following tips should help you stabilise your financial situation:
Contact the organisation you owe money to.
Tell them you're having problems - they are likely to have mechanisms in place for scenarios such as yours and will be able to discuss options for repaying what you owe.
Pay priority debts first.
These could be your mortgage, rent, council tax, or gas or electricity arrears. A debt adviser should be able to help you budget to keep your finances in check.
Think carefully before borrowing money to repay debts.
Borrowing more money when you're already in debt can be very dangerous. Seek advice before deciding to borrow against your home. You are likely to end up paying more overall and you risk losing your home.
You might be able to get extra time to repay a debt through a court.
This does not always apply, but in some circumstances you may be able to get more time to pay off your arrears. Speak to a debt adviser before considering this approach.
Get free help and advice
The law is complex and your rights and options may vary wildly depending on the type of agreement you have with your lender. However, you can get free help and advice from a number of organisations, some of which are detailed below.
If you are falling behind with rent payments or want to know if you are entitled to benefits you are currently not receiving, the following contacts should help.
Uttlesford District Council
The Council has professional advisers who can offer advice on benefits and housing rent payments, for both council and private tenants. More information on housing benefit and other help available can be found at the Benefits section of the website
Information on housing options and homelessness can be found at the Housing section of the site. You can also get advice by coming to the Council Offices on London Road, Saffron Walden, and asking to speak to the duty housing officer, who can also be called on 01799 510510.
Full contact details and opening times can be found on the Contact Us page.
Citizens Advice provides advice free of charge on all manner of issues, including what to do if you are struggling financially.
There is a permanent branch in Saffron Walden and drop-in sessions in both Dunmow and Thaxted, details of which are below:
- Saffron Walden
Barnard's Yard at the top of the High Street. Open 9.30am-3.30pm every weekday except Wednesday. Call 01799 618840.
- Great Dunmow
The Chestnuts, Suite 8, 4 Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, Essex CM6 1DA. Open 9.30am-3.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 01799 618840.
Thaxted Information Centre, Town Street, Thaxted. Open 9.30am-12.30pm Fridays. Appointments only: call 01799 618840 between 9.30am and 12.30pm any weekday except Thursday.
- Bishop's Stortford
74 South Street. Open 10am-4pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 01799 618840 between 10am and 4pm Monday to Thursday.
You can also visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Peabody provide the following support services:
- Sorting out rent arrears
- Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax Support advice and claims
- Budgeting support
- Accessing financial advice
They also offer good quality, affordable homes to rent and buy, as well as care and support services to thousands of people who need extra support.
They provide a range of opportunities for our customers such as training, employment and access to learning so they can improve their prospects, find new opportunities and move on. Shared ownership forms a large part of our business, helping people into home ownership.
Financial Services Authority Money Advice Service
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is an independent national financial watchdog that offers advice alongside a selection of useful guides and tools related to money management.
The nationwide service aims to provide free and independent information to help consumers needing practical money advice, whatever their financial circumstances. Consumers can view its website here: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
The Money Advice Service was set up by the government and is paid for by the financial services industry. Its aim is to enhance the understanding and knowledge of the public about their finances. The Service has an independent Chairman and board appointed by the Financial Services Authority.
The Money Advice Service can be contacted on 0300 500 5000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Debtline offers free, confidential, independent advice. Phone 0808 808 4000 between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday or 9.30am and 1pm Saturday, or visit www.nationaldebtline.org for debt advice and information.
Business Debtline provides free advice and resources to help people deal with their business finances and business debts. Phone 0800 197 6026 between 9am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday, or visit businessdebtline.org for debt advice and information.
Talk About Debt
Talk About Debt provides free and independent guidance on which of the national debt help charities is best suited to help you with your particular financial situation.
The website offers lots of useful information and tips to help you ensure that you receive the right debt advice to suit your individual needs. Visit www.talkaboutdebt.co.uk.
Debt Support Trust
Debt Support Trust is a not-for-profit debt charity (SC041902) with trained, friendly debt advisors ready to advise you on your available debt solutions. The experienced debt advisors can provide you with telephone or internet-based debt advice. Phone the Helpline from 8am until 7pm Monday to Friday on 0800 085 0226, or visit www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk.
Financial Ombudsman Service
If you have a complaint that you can't resolve with your lender, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help. Phone 020 7964 0500 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday or visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
Age Concern Essex
Age Concern is an independent local charity working with and for senior citizens in the region. Based in Chelmsford, the charity represents the views of older people on a wide variety of issues and can provide advice on topics including welfare benefits, social care and housing. Call them on 01245 346106 between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/essex/.
If your business is struggling to survive in the current unforgiving economic conditions, Gov.uk may be able to help. This government-funded service acts in the best interests of businesses and its business finance and support finder searches for publicly-backed finance or support for your business. You can search for: finance -- eg loans, grants and investors or for business support -- eg mentoring, consultancy, initiatives. Get started on the Gov.uk business support finder
Get advice on work and benefits and hunt for a job at the Jobcentre Plus. Small emergency loans are also available for people in urgent need of cash. The nearest branches to Uttlesford are in Haverhill, Cambridge and Braintree. Call 0800 055 6688 free, between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday to discuss benefits, or 0345 606 0234 during the same hours to discuss job opportunities. You can also find contact details for your nearest jobcentre online at https://www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus.
Business Debt Line
Small businesses falling into arrears can get free, confidential and independent advice by calling the Business Debt Line on 0800 197 6026, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. For more information visit www.bdl.org.uk.
Debt Options focuses on helping people with serious debt problems. Their website holds a lot of useful information on a range of debt-related issues that many people find very helpful. They offer free, nationwide, impartial and confidential advice for people who need information and help solving their debt problems. Call them free on 0800 234 3605 or visit www.debtoptions.co.uk/.
Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre
Although it may not be an obvious way to make savings, the impartial advice offered by the Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre can help you save a significant amount of money from fuel bills, as well as giving you information on grants available for energy efficiency home improvements. Call them on 0800 512015 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.
This national housing and homelessness charity runs a helpline, has a network of housing centres and works with local Citizens Advice Bureaux to help people with accommodation problems. You can call them free on 0800 800 4444, between 8am and 8pm seven days a week, or visit them at www.shelter.org.uk.
(Some of the information on this page was sourced from an Office of Fair Trading publication)