If you are worried about money, please use this guide to help you. The sooner you take action the better and we can help you to work through all these suggested actions.
Step1 – Check your entitlements
Complete a benefits check. Benefits Calculator – entitled to – independent | accurate | reliable
A benefits check will tell you if there is more money help with your everyday living and housing costs. This could include:
- Universal Credit
- Disability and Carers benefits
- Pension credit
- Help with childcare costs
Always seek help from a specialist adviser if you are applying for a carer or disability / health related benefit.
Other help you can quickly apply for:
- Council Tax Reduction – this is available for households on a low income.
- Healthy Start – if you are 10 weeks or more pregnant, have a child under 4 and receive qualifying benefits Healthy Start – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Prescriptions/ dental / glasses – check your eligibility for free help from the NHS here
- Warm Home Discount – this substantial discount is made direct to your electricity bill for households on a low income. Contact your supplier to find out if they offer and the qualifying criteria and when to apply. Warm Home Discount Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Free school meals – Apply for free school meals – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Help in an emergency
- Foodbanks – can help with short term needs – find your local foodbank here https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
- Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS) – help with food, home furnishing, white goods if on a low income Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme – Cambridgeshire County Council
- Other grants and assistance – Enquire through Citizens Advice, your local authority or housing association if there is other help available.
- Recycled / low cost – try local Facebook / Freecycle/ recycling sites
Step 2 – Make a budget
- Using a budget planner, go through everything you spend – not just regular bills but all expenses, e.g. haircut, pet food, clothes. Keeping a daily record of spending is very helpful.
Step 3 – Save money on everyday costs
Energy (Gas and Electric)
- Check with your supplier if you’re getting the best deal – at the moment with high energy prices a fixed deal may not suit you but ask your energy supplier for advice
- Take meter readings regularly to see how much you are using and consider a smart meter
- If you are on prepayment meter try and top up regularly all year
- If you are older, have young children and /or a health condition or disability ask to go onto the priority services register with your supplier
- Energy saving tips here https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/hub/quick-tips-to-save-energy/
- Ask your water company about their help with water bills.
- A water meter may save you money. Use this calculator to see if you would be better off getting a water meter installed Water Meter Calculator | CCW (ccwater.org.uk)
Phone / Internet / TV packages
- BT, Talk Talk, Hyperoptic, VirginMedia and KCOM offer discounted rates for households on relevant benefits. More information here Cheaper broadband and phone packages – Ofcom
- Use a comparison site to check that you are on the best deal available. Review your subscriptions and ensure that you are only paying for what you need
- TV Licence: If you watch or record live TV or use BBC iPlayer without a licence, you may be prosecuted and fined up to £1000. TV Licence – TV Licensing ™
Step 4 – Take action on debt
- Contact a debt advice agency if you have bills or borrowing that you cannot afford, get free, independent debt advice from a regulated service. A debt advisor can help you get some breathing space to manage your situation better and work out the best way forward.
- Citizens Advice Rural Cambs 0808 278 7807 and online debt chat service
- Cambridge & District Citizens Advice 0808 278 7808
- StepChange StepChange Debt Charity – Free Expert Debt Advice. 0800 138 1111.
- Avoid loan sharks – Loan sharks take advantage of people struggling who feel they have nowhere else to turn. If you are offered money with little paperwork but high charges avoid and contact the free helpline on 0300 555 2222.
Step 5 – Useful websites