We are a small local charity… donations are always welcome, and very gratefully received!


Budget sheets are available here: http://debtsupportunit.org.uk/resources/Personal%20Budget.pdf

Here, we aim to give an insight as to popular topics where savings may be achieved on spending and also where incomes may be increased. The list is not exhaustive by any means but it does include the ‘top-ten’ areas that are most relevant to our own clients.


BANK ACCOUNTS:
Banking is becoming far more competitive these days, particularly in respect of current accounts. It could be in your own interests to switch accounts. Where income payments – salaries, benefits etc. – are simply being used to pay down an overdraft it could be worth considering opening another current account. This may allow greater access to your money for everyday living expenses, utility bills and housing costs. Post Office accounts and Basic Bank accounts have merit for those who only have ‘simple’ household budgets to manage, and also for those who having, or have had, difficulty in accessing or managing conventional current accounts.


BOARD & LODGINGS:
Our experience demonstrates that many of our clients will not charge non-dependants for board and lodging, particularly their own adult children. This can often be an emotive issue for clients, and we always approach this subject with care. That said, we generally take the view that board should be payable wherever possible as it can have very significant impacts upon your own income. This is particularly true when non-dependant deductions are having an adverse impact upon the clients’ own benefits claims.

It is impossible to advise specifically as to what should be charged for board as many factors will affect this figure… emotions and moral issues included. However, the following sums could be an appropriate starting point: -

£15.00 for non-dependents with low-level benefit income only, or,
£30.00 as a minimum for any wage-earners who work full time. 


CHILD MAINTENANCE:
This will often be an emotive issue and we know from experience that care should be exercised in dealing with maintenance arrangements. Experience tells us that many of our clients are reluctant to claim, or pursue a claim, for child maintenance to which have a legitimate entitlement. A number of factors are relevant here including the mistaken belief that periodic maintenance may affect entitlements to benefits. However, we take the view that maintenance claims should be pursued wherever possible as they can have very significant impacts upon your income.

Voluntary payments arrangements are always preferable as these are much more likely to be honoured. Child Maintenance Options are the best source of information and support if you need help in making such arrangements. Contact details are: -
Phone: 0800 988 0988 Online: www.cmoptions.org/support

      It is always difficult to be precise re: maintenance amounts as a number of factors are relevant, including:-
  • Care arrangements - particularly overnight stays with the absent parent,
  • Other children for whom the absent parent has responsibility, and also,
  • A lack of information re: relevant incomes.

The following figures are intended as a guideline in respect of entitlement to maintenance:

 

1 Child

2 Children

3 Children

Income Basis

Existing Claimants

15%

20%

25%

Net Income

New Claimants

11%

16%

19%

Gross Income

 

ENERGY GRANTS:
Most of the major utility providers have grant funds which can help clients with arrears and also - in the case of British Gas and EDF - with some other priority debts. These funders may also help with the purchase of essential household items such as cooking equipment, fridges, furniture etc. Application is normally made via a form which is available from the following contacts: -


SUPPLIER:

CONTACT:

NOTES:

British Gas

01733 421060 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Other help available!

NPower

01733 421060 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

EDF

01733 421060 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Other help available!

EoN

08000511480 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Scottish Power

No Grant funding at moment – please check their website for any updates if necessary

 

 

The relevant application form can also be completed on-line if you can access the Internet. It seems that most grant funders are now preferring this mode of contact.
Additionally the Turn2us website has a very useful grants search facility but it should be noted that most benevolent funds relate to employment – past or present – and also health conditions.


FREE BOILERS:
Homeowners, and tenants in privately rented accommodation, might be eligible for a 100% grant to replace any boiler which is over 10 years of age. Eligibility can be checked via the following link:
www.boilergrants.co.uk
The rules for claiming are quite complicated, but the following is a useful guideline: -
You should be in receipt of one of the following benefits: -

  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (with a household income of £15,860 or less)
  • Working Tax Credit (with a household income of £15,860 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-Related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

Additionally if you Income Support, JSA, or ESA then one extra qualifying condition will apply from the following list: -

  • You have a child under 16
  • You have a child under 20 in full-time education (not university)
  • You get Child Tax Credit including a disability element
  • You get a Disabled Child Premium
  • You get a Disability Premium
  • You have a Pensioner Premium
  • You have an additional component included within your ESA payment.

Working Tax Credit claimants will also need to satisfy additional criteria such as being in receipt of the Disabled Worker element or Severe Disability element, or be over 60 years of age. We did say it was complicated!


INSURANCES:
We actively encourage all of our clients to shop around for insurance policies, particularly those who have tended to use a ‘traditional’ supplier, or broker. We also warn clients that not all insurance companies can be found on heavily advertised comparison websites such as Compare the Market, Money Supermarket, Go-compare etc.
Clients have told us that Aviva, Churchill and Direct Line can be amongst the cheapest for car and household insurances… these companies will not normally be found on most comparison websites. Clients of the centre have also reported that AgeUK offer good value policies for the over-50’s.
Rotherham Council offers a contents-only household policy which is available to its tenants, and this seems to offer good value for money – premiums start at about £1 per week. An application form for this type of cover can be downloaded from the RMBC website, collected from Key Choices Property Shop in the Old Town Hall, or obtained from 01709 336040.


UTILITY COSTS:
Bitter experience shows us that there is a lack of awareness regarding gas and electricity tariffs, and also a reluctance to change suppliers. This is despite the fact that many of our clients continue to use the more expensive suppliers… many of these clients could easily save £200 – 300 per annum by simply switching their supplier.
www.energyhelpline.com & www.uswitch.com are the most recognisable utility checking websites, and also, we have found, the easiest to use.
In general the following tariffs provide the best value: -

  • Dual-fuel… where gas and electricity are provided by one supplier,
  • Payment is made via monthly Direct Debit, and also,
  • Paperless billing… the bill is submitted to you via email.

If Internet usage is a particular problem for you it may be worthwhile liaising with local library staff as they can normally offer help in respect of basic computer training.
At the moment ‘fixed-rate’ tariffs are proving to be better value that standard tariffs. When checking utility costs it is always prudent to have an accurate recent bill to hand as actual amounts can then be inputted. If these are not available to you then allow 60% of current household utility expenditure to gas usage, and the remaining 40% for electricity. This will not give a totally precise comparison but it will be enough to ensure that options are available for you to consider.

When prompted clients using pre-pay meters should compare potential savings against their providers ‘standard’ tariff. Please bear in mind that those with arrears of more than £500 will not generally be allowed to switch from their current provider, and that changing suppliers will normally incur a fee - £25 per fuel is fairly typical.
WARNING: Be careful about switching if you may also be entitled to a Warm Home Discount as this is normally paid by your current provider – see below. You may lose entitlement if you move from one supplier to another too soon. The Warm Home Discount can be applied to your account at any time between November and March – you are not generally able to specify when it is actually credited to your account.

WATER CHARGES:

The Water Companies also have grant funds to which clients can apply in respect of their current arrears. Applications can be made via the following sources: -


Company:

Telephone No:

Email:

Yorkshire Water Trust

0845 1242426

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Severn Trent Trust Fund

0121 3557766

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

WATER – METERS: Most of our clients receive bills which are un-metered and, therefore, solely based on the ‘rateable’ value of their property. Those who use little water, and also those who have a higher rateable value, may worth consider switching to a water meter. These types of bills are based solely on usage. The general rule is that households with more occupants that bedrooms may well benefit from the installation of a water meter. A single occupant of a 2-bed property should benefit, as would a couple living in a 3-bed home.

Clients should contact their suppliers if you feel that a meter would be of benefit to them.
We also advise our more vulnerable clients to consider Water-Sure. This is a ‘social’ tariff aimed at those who use considerable amounts of water, but they must already have a water meter installed. In order to be eligible for Water-Sure you must be in receipt on an income-based benefit or Tax Credits, and also meet one of the following criteria: -

  • Have a medical condition which requires more water use, or,
  • Have 3 or more children in the household who are <19, and in full-time education.

Past clients who have utilised Water-Sure have reported significant savings so it is definitely something that we would recommend.

Always remember that we are here to help… you can call us, visit one of our ever-popular outreach venues, call in at one of our twice weekly drop-in sessions or even make a pre-booked appointment if you feel that more detailed help is ever needed.

 

 co op banner

Co-op Membership Fund

We are delighted that many local residents have nominated us to receive support via the Co-op Membership Fund. This support, which amounted to £4600, for our centre is very much appreciated - we are very grateful to all those involved in this initiative. Thank you!

 

 

CSA IS CLOSING DOWN!

THE CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY BEING ABOLISHED! The CSA is being wound down, and no longer accepts new assessments for child maintenance.

Read more ...