Financial Help & Advice
Housing Benefit Changes
The Welfare Reform Act will change the benefits that people receive from April 2013. Some of these changes will affect the amount of housing benefit that people receive, and the way it will be paid.
You can use our online calculator (opens a new window) to find out how you will be affected. Also this leaflet will tell you who will be affected, and where you can get further information on the changes. Please contact your housing officer if you would like to speak to someone about the proposed changes.
How we can help
If you are having problems paying your rent or service charge, contact us as soon as possible. We can offer confidential help, advice and support.
We can make agreements with you to reduce your arrears by paying a little extra each week until your arrears are cleared in full.
We can visit you in your home to discuss any problems, help you complete any forms and make sure you have the correct supporting documents.
If you are worried about debt you can get free and confidential advice and help.
Debts tend to grow so it is important you begin to sort out your problems now. The best way to tackle debts is to make a plan.
- Work out all the money you have coming in. Can your income be increased? For instance, can you claim more benefits or tax credits?
- Work out your regular expenditure (other than your debts). Is there any way to reduce your spending?
- Work out how much you have left to pay your debts and prioritise your debts.
- Get help from a non-profit debt counselling service.
- Think very carefully before borrowing money to pay off your debts.
Do not be pushed into making payments you cannot afford. If you are being harassed by a creditor call National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
Maximise your income: benefits and tax credits
Extra income might be available to you if you belong to one or more of the following groups:
- Families with dependent children and an income of less than £26,000.
- People without children earning less than £18,000.
- People out of work.
- People with an illness or disability.
- Carers, guardians and people over sixty.
You can use our online benefit checker (opens a new window) to work out how much you could claim.
Credit Unions are not for profit cooperatives offering loans at reasonable rates of interest. They are regulated by the Financial Services Authority like banks and building societies, but are more flexible and you could borrow money even if you have had credit problems in the past.
|Credit Union||27% APR|
|Doorstep lender||177% APR|
You can also save with a Credit Union. Contact the Credit Union association ABCUL on 0161 832 3694 for more information.
Help with your utility bills
There are lots of ways to save money on utility bills, helping you to reduce spending.
- Pay by direct debit and paperless billing.
- Take regular meter readings. Bills based on estimated readings mean that you could end up paying more than you use.
- Compare suppliers. There are a number of comparison websites where you can find the best prices.
- Save energy. Small changes to the way you use energy and water can have noticeable effects on your bills.
Your supplier may have a social tariff—a reduced rate for the elderly and those on low incomes and benefits. Contact your supplier to find out if you are eligible.
If you are aged 60 or over you may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with the costs of keeping warm in winter. Contact the Winter Fuel Payments Helpline on 08459 15 15 15 for more information.
For more information about reducing your fuel bills, see our Fuel Information Pack.
Remember, you cannot be disconnected for water rates debts.
Some water companies threaten to disconnect a property because ‘they think the property is empty’. Make sure you keep in touch with the company as they may try to do this if nobody has answered their letters for some time.
If your water company has threatened to disconnect your supply, ring them and make sure that they understand that you are still in the property and they cannot disconnect the supply.
My Home Energy Switch
My Home Energy Switch is a partnership between the National Housing Federation and uSwitch.com. You can save money on gas and electricity using their free, impartial online or telephone service.
You can compare all the suppliers and tariffs by visiting http://www.myhomeenergyswitch.org.uk or by calling the helpline on 0800 0515346. It only takes a few minutes to switch and they take care of all the paperwork.
All you need is a recent energy bill for the online service. Call the number above if you do not have one.
Below is a list of organisations who can help you.
- StepChange Debt Charity Tel: 0800 138 1111
- If you are seeking help with your debts, make sure you don’t have to pay for it. Charities such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service can provide you with all the services, help and support you need to be debt free without costing you a penny. To get started, use their online assessment tool, Debt Remedy, which will give you personalised budgeting and free debt advice specific to your situation.
- Citizens Advice Tel: 08444 111 444
- The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free information and advice.
- ABCUL Credit Unions Tel: 0161 832 3694
- The home site of the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd, the main trade association for credit unions.
- National Debtline Tel: 0808 808 4000
- The helpline that provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.
- Turn2us helps people access the money available to them—through welfare benefits, grants and other financial help.
- Home Heat Helpline Tel: 0800 33 66 99
- The helpline is a free, not for profit phone line set up to help people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills.
- Age UK Tel: 0800 169 65 65
- Promoting the well-being of all older people and to help make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
- Community Legal Advice Tel: 0845 3454 345
- Free, confidential and independent legal advice from the Legal Services Commission.
- Credit Action
- Credit Action is a national money education charity offering a range of resources, tools and training to help everybody handle their money well.
- Insolvency Service
- Useful leaflets about dealing with debt from the Insolvency Service.
- Learn Direct
- Details on a range of courses to help you with life skills, including managing your money, and other skills to help with looking for work, using computers and business skills.
- AdviceKit is the Manchester City Council’s free and confidential online advice and information service available to all Manchester residents and employees of Manchester City Council.