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All Staff Conference - Friday 15 November 2019

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Money, benefits and debt advice

Debt advice | Money management tools | Benefits

If you are struggling with your rent payments get in touch with your Income Officer and advise them of your situation. They can refer you to our money and debt specialists for help and advice. More information is available on our Help with rent arrears and benefits page.

Debt advice

Owing money can be very stressful, thankfully there is a lot of help available for you to access if you would like to resolve your debt issues. In 2018/19 alone, our specialist advisors helped more than 2000 residents deal with their debt and benefit issues, securing more than £2M towards rent payments and £1M in other financial benefits for those they helped.

Below is a list of some steps you can take yourself to get started on the process of dealing with your debts. However, remember that you do not have to tackle it on your own we can refer you to a specialist advisor, or signpost you to an external agency. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or call Stepchange for advice over the phone.

When in debt the most important thing is to get organised. So:

  • Don’t take out any further credit.
  • Make a list of:
    • Who you owe money to.
    • How much is owed to each one.
    • What type of debt it is (see below).
    • The type of debts.

Priority debts

These are the ones where serious action can be taken against you if you don’t pay what is owed, or come to a repayment arrangement. These include:

  • rent arrears
  • council tax
  • gas/electricity
  • court fines
  • child maintenance.

Non-Priority debts

These are debts such as credit cards, mobile phone bills, unsecured loans, water bills, benefit overpayments etc.

The action these creditors can take is less serious than with priority debts.

Priority debts should always be taken care of first. 

Debts explained

  • Do a budget to work out how much money you have available to repay your debts. See our money management tools.
  • Get in touch with your most important creditors first and negotiate monthly repayments.
  • Get help. If you feel you can’t cope or handle your debts yourself, contact us or an independent advice agency. 

For more detail you can download the money and debt advice booklet (PDF, 10.7MB).

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Money management tools

If you need help working out how much you can pay towards your rent arrears, an income officer can help you work out a budget, or if you have issues with debt, they can refer you to one of our specialist debt advisors. 

It is often wrongly assumed that budgets should only be used when finances are tight. However creating a budget can help you to understand your incomings and outgoings, making it easier to save for something special or to plan for an event. Work out what your goal is; it could be a treat or a longer-term goal like a holiday, special birthday or Christmas. Knowing your target and how much you want to save for it, gives you more focus you when you have a moment of indecision and can help you to avoid buying on impulse. 

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply writing down what comes in and what goes out is a good first step. Then review what you’re spending and ask yourself: What can I not do without? What could I cut back on? Are cheaper alternatives available?

Entitledto

Budgeting calculator from entitledto.co.uk.

Money Advice Service

Money Advice Service has created a useful Money Manager tool that provides tailored information specifically for Universal Credit claimants. 

Citizen Advice Bureau

The Citizen Advice Bureau have an online budgeting tool.

Our budgeting sheet

You can also download our personal budgeting sheet (PDF, 55KB) to help you to list all the income and expenses for your household, as well as your priority and non-priority debts.

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Benefits

Our website has additional information on benefits including a video on Universal Credit and Help with rent arrears and benefits.

DIY benefits calculators help you work out what benefits you can claim.

You can also read our money and debt advice booklet (PDF, 10.7MB) for tenants.

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