Your guide to surviving the credit crunch

Document Sample
Your guide to surviving the credit crunch Powered By Docstoc
					   Money Support Services                                           Backing Kent People

                                                         Your guide to
                                                          surviving the
                                                         credit crunch
                                                                            Practical and helpful
                                                                               tips on managing
                                                                                     your money
                                                                                   FREE INSIDE:
                                                                                Your easy to use
                                                                               ‘Budget Planner’
                                                                                     Increase your
                                                                                  income – reduce
                                                                                       your money

      Support                                Advice                                   Tips
Money Support Services co-ordinated by Town and Country Foundation in partnership with Kent County Council
This issue is jam packed with advice and support
to help you control your money. Throughout the
magazine there are tips and real-life stories from
people who have sought help to their money
worries. So enjoy the read, act on the info and
start being in control of your cash.
                                                             we’re here to help you

                                                          Welcome to Money Box – your
    we’re here to help you . . . . . . . . .          2
                                                          friendly guide to everything to do
                                                          with your money and your home.
    help with rent and                                    First things first
    council tax payments . . . . . . . . . .          4   Closing your eyes to debt or money worries

    coming soon
                                                          does not make it go away.
                                                          Sometimes when you have debt building up or you
                                                          don’t know how you will manage with the money
    – ‘Kent Savers’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6   you have it’s easy to become weighed down with

debtdon’t ignore it . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
                                                          worry. Beginning to manage this situation is not
                                                          the easiest thing to do, so it’s always best to turn
                                                          to someone for advice. Talking really does help
                                                          and if you are having financial difficulties, you

    and training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
                                                          should let your housing provider or lender know as
                                                          soon as possible.
                                                          Remember no matter how bad things can

foodhaving a healthy diet . . . . . . . . . 12
                                                          sometimes look, help is always available
                                                          for you.
                                                          If you have genuine reasons for not being able to pay

                                                          your rent or mortgage, your housing provider or
                                                          lender can usually reach an
                                                          agreement with you.
    and other household bills . . . . 14
                                                          They may be able to

    white goods and furniture . . . . 16
                                                          arrange for you to pay
                                                          off your arrears
                                                          (missed payments)

                                                          gradually, or offer
                                                          some advice on
                                                          benefits you might
    and wellbeing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17        be entitled to.

    make sure you have it . . . . . . . . 19

Find our easy to use budget planner
at the back… give it a go today!

We’re here to help                                                      Gateway offers
The sooner you act the quicker you                                      convenient ways to help
can start to ease your worry.                                           you find the public and
Contact your housing provider as soon as possible.                      voluntary services you
Landlords and housing staff are trained to give advice         need, right on the high-street.
on Housing Benefit, or advise you on other                     Customer Service Advisors are ready to assist you
benefits you may be entitled to.                               in comfortable and modern settings with a wide
They can also help you work out how much rent you              range of enquiries.
need to pay if you are claiming some form of benefit           Services include:
or are on a low income (or both). If you have a family,
you may be able to claim tax credits.                          n Free internet access and payment
Contact your local council, Citizens Advice Bureau,
                                                               n Routine advice and activities – bus
Jobcentre Plus, tax office or Gateway, or ask us for
                                                                 passes, refuse, parking, blue badges,
more details.
                                                                 and licensing
Your housing provider                                          n Daily surgeries by organisations such
                                                                 as Hi Kent, Connexions, and Community
Your housing provider is a direct link between you               Health
and your landlord. They are responsible for providing
support and information to help you.                           n Registrars for births and deaths
                                                               n Council tax, benefits, planning, housing,
Most landlords can provide guidance and support
                                                                 social care, library, and adult education
on learning opportunities and developing your skills.
Social landlords work to improve residents’ budgeting          n Now open in Ashford, Thanet,
and money managing abilities.                                    Tunbridge Wells, Tenterden, Maidstone,
                                                                 Tonbridge and Dover. Two Mobile
Citizens Advice Bureau                                           Gateway units are available to take
                                                                 services out into the heart of rural and
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau has the benefit of             urban communities across Kent
over 70 years of helping people and giving advice on
a wide range of matters. Citizens Advice Bureau helps          Please go to the back page of Money Box to
resolve legal, money and other problems by                     find your local Gateway.
providing free, independent and confidential advice.
With 426 centres in England and Wales, support is
always nearby. To find your local Citizens Advice
Bureau, visit and enter              Jargon Buster
your post code.                                                Arrears – Another term for debt or money owed.
                                                               Housing Benefit – A way to get help with rent
Independent Living                                             or mortgage payment.
Supporting People – helping you manage                         Tax credits – Payments from the Government.
There are many different ways an Independent Living            If you’re responsible for at least one child or
Team can help you. They can help with setting up and           young person who normally lives with you, you
managing your home – including organising your bills.          may qualify for Child Tax Credit. If you work, but
                                                               earn low wages, you may qualify for Working Tax
They can advise and help in managing your finances,
                                                               Credit. Nine out of ten families with children get
making benefit claims and getting you back into
                                                               tax credits, but you don’t need to have children
work. An Independent Living Team can put you in
                                                               to qualify. You may also qualify if you are working
touch with other services to help you maintain your
                                                               and earning low pay.
For details of this service in your area contact Kent County
Council on 08458 247247 or visit
      help with rent and Council Tax payments

Find out how to balance your
budget and maximise your income.
There is a range of benefits available for
people on low income and it may not always
be clear exactly what you are entitled to.
Every year a large proportion of benefits go unclaimed by people
entitled to much needed extra income. This is money which could
make a difference to your standard of living, so check that you are
receiving your full entitlement of benefits for your situation. If you
don’t know where to start, or need help or advice with benefits and
what you may be entitled to, we have listed some important phone
                                                                         If you need help paying
numbers and websites as a first point of contact.
                                                                         your rent or council tax,
                                                                         talk to your council about:
 Pensions and Pension Credit Payments                                    n Housing benefit – this helps
 Make sure that you’re getting                                             people to pay their rent
 what you’re entitled to. Call the                                       n Council tax benefit –
 Pension Service on 0845 6060265                                           this helps people pay their
 (Text Phone 0845 6060285).                                                council tax
                                                                         Both benefits are related to
                                                                         savings and income. People who
  Financial top-ups while working                                        receive Income Support, income
                                                                         based Jobseeker’s Allowance or
  Being employed does not mean an end to the benefits you are
                                                                         the guarantee part of Pension
  entitled to – you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit or Child
                                                                         Credit will usually get help with all
  Tax Credit or both. Contact the Kent Benefits Partnership if you
                                                                         their rent and council tax.
  want advice or help with an application, or telephone Revenue
  and Customs on 0845 300 3900 (Text Phone 0845 300 3909).               If you need help making a claim,
                                                                         contact the Kent Benefits
  Financial help for disabled people                                     Partnership on 0845 345 0310
  You could be entitled to Disability Living Allowance or                between 1pm and 5pm Monday
  Attendance Allowance (depending on your age). Contact the              to Friday. They can help you with
  Kent Benefits Partnership for help with an application, or             forms and visit you in your home
  telephone 0800 882200 (Text phone 0800 243355).                        to collect evidence needed to
  You can also claim online at              support your claim.
  DisabledPeople/FinancialSupport/DisabilityLiving                       Contact details for your council
  Allowance/DG_10011925                                                  are on the back page.

        keep control of your spending

Why Budget?
Budgeting helps you remain in control of your
spending. Knowing exactly what you can spend after
you have paid your bills helps you plan for the future,
and there are some simple exercises you can carry
out to stay on top of your spending. By looking at
your income and outgoings you will see what scope
you have to make changes to your spending and
where you may even save money.
Knowing exactly what money you have to spend can
be a very effective brake on large impulse spending.
By being in control of your outgoings you can ensure
you keep up with agreed payments.
Most importantly, budgeting will help to
reduce your stress levels.

  Our easy to use budget
  planner is available with
  this issue of Money Box.

  Give it a go today
  Do I spend more than I earn?
  The budget planner will answer this question
  and give you a real grip on your finances.

  What can I afford to spend?
  The most important thing is to prioritise your
  expenditure and stick within your means. By
  doing this you may find you have more money
  to spend than you would expect.
  For help and assistance in completing your
  budget planner you can talk to your housing
  provider, local Citizens Advice Bureau or visit
  your local Gateway.

c               redit
      coming soon - ‘Kent Savers’ - 0300 456 9990
                                           (subject to authorisation)       (phone line from 1st November)

The Credit Union in Kent will be called ‘Kent
Savers’. There are three other credit unions
operating in Canterbury, Thanet and Medway.
‘Kent Savers’ is the latest and will begin operating from the end
of November 2009 (subject to authorisation). ‘Kent Savers’ will
also be offering a range of attractive savings products. Go online
to register your interest now or call
0300 456 9990 from 1st November.
A credit union acts like a bank or building society and offers
extremely favourable repayment rates. It is a far safer and more
trusted route for taking out loans and other forms of credit than
private individuals or loan sharks.                                     Thinking of getting
  Typical examples:                                                     a credit card or
  A £500 Instant Loan costs just £10 per week for 57 weeks.             store card?
  Total repaid: £570 (26.8% APR).
                                                                        Credit cards can be seen as an
  Perfect for people with poor credit histories:                        easy answer to get the things you
  payments are accepted over the Pay Point network and                  want when you want them and not
  you can save at the same time you borrow. Compare us                  necessarily when you can afford
  to Provident and save up to £285. On a typical £500 loan              them. But unless you can afford the
  over 57 weeks Provident charge £15 per week.                          repayments they can spiral out of
  Total repaid: £915 (183% APR).                                        control, mounting up increasing
  Remember: the higher the APR the more you will                        debt through high interest rates.
  repay in total.                                                       n Don’t take on more credit
                                                                          than you can afford to repay.
Contact details for existing credit unions in Kent                        This is where budgeting will
Canterbury                                                                help you know what you can
The District of Canterbury Credit Union                                   afford.
DCCU, PO BOX 825, Canterbury, CT4 6WB                                   n Don’t sign up for a credit or
Tel: 0845 257 5012                              store card without checking
Thanet                                                                    the interest rate (the APR).
Wantsum – The Isle of Thanet Credit Union                               n Make sure you understand
9 High St, Margate, Kent, CT9 1DL                                         the costs and charges.
Tel: 01843 295022
                                                                        n Ask yourself whether a
                                                                          credit or store card is the
Medway Credit Union
                                                                          best solution – a loan might
270 High Street, Chatham, ME4 4BP
                                                                          be cheaper.
Tel: 01634 403335

Beware of unscrupulous
lenders – loan sharks
Beware of unscrupulous lenders–
there is no law about maximum
interest that people can charge.
Recently a loan shark was found to
be charging 117,000% interest (APR)
for its repayment rate, and another
woman paid back over £88,000 on a
loan of just £500. Don’t become a
victim of a loan shark.
Loan sharks are not the answer to your money worries
no matter how appealing easy cash may seem.
Remember it is always best to apply for a loan from a
reputable high street bank, building society or a Credit     The Illegal Money Lending
Union. This way you will know that the interest rates will   Team is here to help
be fair. There is also far more chance of them being
reasonable should you run into unexpected difficulties       If you have any information, however small,
with repayments.                                             on loan shark activities they can help.
A loan shark is someone who lends money without the          n Have you been offered a cash loan?
right licence from the Office of Fair Trading. Loan sharks
                                                             n Have you been threatened when
rarely, if ever, give any paperwork and if payments are
                                                               you couldn’t pay?
missed they often use intimidation and violence to get
money from their ‘clients’.                                  n Has your bank card been taken from
                                                               you as a security?
                                                             n Does what you owe keep growing
  Jargon Buster                                                even though you make payments?
  Loan shark – A person or body that offers loans at         If you can answer yes to any of the above
  high interest rates to individuals, often backed by        then you may have been bitten by a loan
  blackmail or threats of violence.                          shark. If you, or anyone you know, is
                                                             experiencing any of the above or has any
  Credit cards – A bank or store issued card that            knowledge of loan shark activities then
  allows people to purchase goods or services from a         contact the team in confidence.
  merchant and pay for the goods later with
  instalments or a single payment.                           The Illegal Money Lending Team can
                                                             be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days
  Interest rate – A rate which is charged or paid for        a week on 0121 693 1122, by e-mail at
  borrowing money.                                 ,
  APR – Annual Percentage Rate. The yearly cost of a         or by text to: loan(space)shark(space) + your
  loan including interest, insurance, and the                message to 60003
  administration fees, expressed as a percentage.

debt                   don’t ignore it
Being in debt is one of the biggest
worries we face and can lead to stress
                                                                     Citizens Advice Bureau can
related illnesses. Debt has to be tackled                            offer advice and support
at some point so it’s best to do it straight                         If you are worried about how to deal with
                                                                     your debts, there is free, confidential advice
away if possible.                                                    available. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau
Don’t ignore the problem – it won’t go away. The longer              can give you advice about debt problems.
you leave it, the worse it gets.                                     To search for details of your nearest Citizens
                                                                     Advice Bureau call directory enquiries,
Make the most of your income – check you are claiming
                                                                     look in the phone book or go to
all the benefits and tax credits you can. If you’ve lost your job,
or are off work because you’re ill, check if any debts are
covered by payment protection insurance.
Tackle your priority debts first – for example, debts that           Who else can help with debt?
could mean losing your home, or having your gas or electric
                                                                     National Debtline A helpline that
cut off.
                                                                     provides free, confidential and independent
Work out your personal budget – show it to your                      advice on how to deal with debt problems.
creditors when you contact them.                                     Contact on 0808 808 40000 or visit
Get in touch with your creditors straight away –           
explain your situation. Contact all your creditors. If you arrange   Money Advice Plus A registered
to pay some but not others, you may get into difficulty again.       charity that provides free, confidential and
You do not need to offer payment straight away.                      independent money and debt advice services
Work out a reasonable offer for each creditor. Don’t                 by phone. Contact on 01323 635999 or
worry if the offer seems small. Creditors prefer a regular small     visit
amount to an offer you can’t afford.
Don’t give up trying to agree an offer, even if creditors are
difficult. If the first person you speak to is unhelpful, ask to
speak to someone more senior. They may be able to agree
to what you want.
Always keep copies of letters and papers you send or
Don’t borrow money to pay off your bills without thinking
carefully. Get advice first. This kind of borrowing could lead
to you losing your home.
Get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau or other
independent advice services. If you get taken to court,
do this urgently. Fill in reply forms to court papers, and
let the court have all the facts. Always go to court
hearings and take your personal budget with you.

                                                           Citizens Advice
Four easy steps to help                                    Bureau – Case study
you deal with debt                                       A 51 year old self-employed gardener came

1    Make a list of your debts. Before you               to see us as his constantly changing
     can tackle a debt problem, you need to collect      income meant that he had problems
     together information about your money. Make a       meeting all of his financial commitments.
     list of all the people and companies you owe        He had problems budgeting which meant that his
     money to.                                           priority payments such as rent and council tax

2    Work out your budget. List all the income           were falling behind involving him in legal action,
     and expenses for your household. Be honest and      additional costs and a lot of stress and worry.
     make sure that the amounts are realistic.           There were other debts due, including utility

3    What debts need to be sorted out                    arrears and tax, that were proving overwhelming.
     first? – these are known as priority debts.         By putting together an income and expenditure
                                                         statement it became apparent that the client was
    	• Mortgage or rent arrears: If you don’t pay        not able to service all of this debt and would be
       these, you could lose your home                   eligible for a debt relief order.
    • Fuel arrears: If you don’t pay these, you          This was processed and relieved the client of
      can have your supply disconnected                  unmanageable historical debt from which he
    • Council tax arrears: If you don’t pay              could make a fresh start.
      these, a court can use bailiffs to take your       Once a budget plan was put together without debt
      goods                                              repayments it meant that the client could manage
    • Court fines (such as magistrates’ court            his finances much more effectively in future ensuring
      fines for traffic offences): If you don’t pay      that all his priority payments were regularly met. It
      these, the court can use bailiffs to take          also improved his sense of well-being and left him
      your goods                                         feeling in control of his life again.
    • Maintenance arrears payable to an
      ex-partner or children (this includes Child
      Support you owe to the Child Support               Jargon Buster
      Agency): If you don’t pay these,                   Creditors – A person, company or organisation
      a court can use bailiffs to take your goods        which is owed money.
    • Income tax or VAT arrears: If you don’t            Child Support – A payment a parent makes
      pay these, you can be sent to prison               towards the costs of raising her or his child.
     Don’t ignore letters or phone calls                 Child Support Agency – A body which helps
     from your priority creditors. Get in                with the collection of child support income for
     touch with them as early as possible                single parents.
     and explain to them why you are in
                                                         Income tax – A Government charge on both
     debt. An advice agency such as your
                                                         earned income (wages, salaries, commission) and
     local Citizens Advice Bureau can help
                                                         unearned income (dividends, interest, rents).
     you write to your creditors.

                                                         VAT – Value Added Tax, a tax on goods and
     What debts need to be sorted out                    services. Some goods such as food are not
     next? After dealing with your priority debts, you   affected.
     will need to work out how to deal with your
     non-priority debts. How you deal with your          Priority debts – Debts which must be paid first.
     non-priority debts will depend on whether you       Non-priority debts – Debts which need to be
     have any money left over from dealing with your     paid after you have sorted out your priority debts.
     priority debts and paying for essential household
     expenses like housing costs and food.

e mployment            and training
Searching for a new job can seem daunting
and stressful. We want to help you to get the
information, help and advice you need to find
the job you want. Training is also often
available for people wanting to go back to
work or change careers.

Help with finding the
right job for you                 Jobcentre Plus is part of the               RBLI
gives you access to a wide variety     Department for Work and                     Employment
of jobs in Kent. You can register      Pensions, bringing together
your details for e-mail alerts of      employment and benefit services             Solutions
suitable jobs. The site also           for people of working age.        RBLI (Royal British Legion
provides useful advice on looking      It provides a professional and    Industries) Employment Solutions
for work. Included is information      modern service for employers      works with employers to provide
on completing application forms,       and those seeking work. Visit     job opportunities for people with
writing CVs and how to best            a health condition or a disability.
present yourself at interviews, as     or call 0845 6060 234.            It provides skilled advisers to
well as contact details and links to                                     help with employment and
other organisations that can help                                        training advice and support.
you find work.                                                           To find out more or to arrange
                                                                         an appointment with an advisor
                                                                         call 0800 319 6841 or visit


                              There is a wide variety of apprenticeships
                              available to help you gain a qualification and
Volunteering                  skills whilst being paid. For more information
                              visit the Department for Employment and
Volunteering is a fantastic   Learning’s website:
way to learn new skills to
help you find a new job.
You will also meet new        Kent County Council’s Key Training Services also run successful
people and enjoy new          apprenticeship programmes both within the council and with
experiences whilst getting    hundreds of other employers throughout Kent. To learn more visit
involved in supporting
your local community.         work-based-learning, e-mail
                              or call free on 0800 7314297.
There is a wide variety of
volunteering opportunities
available to suit whatever
skills you already have, or
you could try something        Large employers often run graduate
you’ve never done before.      programmes where you can work and
If you’d like to know what     develop skills for your future career
is available in your area,     development. Kent County Council runs the
contact your local             Kent Graduate Programme on an annual
volunteer centre.              basis – for more information visit
Details are available from     Some universities offer access to their careers
www.volunteercentres           advice service, although there may be a or visit your      charge for this.
local Gateway.                 provides a database of previous graduate
                               employers. You can use this list to target
                               graduate supportive employers.

food                having a healthy diet
                                    Balancing your budget can mean making difficult
                                    choices when you are on a limited income, but
                                    feeding yourself and your family is important.
                                         Good food gives you energy and strength and helps to keep you
                                         healthy. It can also help you and your family ward off those autumn
                                         and winter colds and flu viruses. We know this becomes more
                                         difficult with the onset of the colder weather when heating bills are
                                         high, but this is why knowing how to prioritise your income
                                         throughout the year is important. A healthy diet does not need to
                                         be expensive and there are many low cost options which can be
                                         taken to improve your lifestyle and that of your family’s. You can
                                         introduce vegetables to children (and adults who turn their noses
                                         up at them!) by chopping them up finely and adding them to
                                         pasta and soups (ready made or home made).
                                         Fruit can be chopped up and added to
                                         cereal or stewed in a few minutes
                                         and served with yoghurt
                                         or custard.

 Grow your own
 Growing fruit and vegetables is not                   Or if you have children get them interested too.
 difficult and can be fun. It certainly can            You’ll be amazed how keen they will be to eat fruit
                                                       and vegetables that they have grown themselves.
 be a cheaper way to get your 5-a-day
 portions of fruit and vegetables.                     The kinds of vegetables that are easy to grow and
                                                       look after are potatoes, onions, peas, runner
 You do not need a large garden or plot of land to     beans, courgettes, cabbage, lettuce and carrots.
 have fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. You   Easy to grow fruits are raspberries and
 only need a small back yard or a few containers       strawberries – they just need planting in small
 and pots – buckets, old tin dustbins, used cans       containers or pots.
 and even your children’s old wellies will do as
 planters, but you can also get cheap pots at local    Other fruits are more difficult because you need
 stores and hardware shops. So even if you live in     a bit more space, but perhaps your children’s
 the smallest of properties you can take part in       school or local community centre will be happy
 something fun, healthy and nutritious – but most      to plant a couple of fruit trees. Apples and pears
 of all cheap. You could even swap what you grow       are expensive to buy, but cost nothing to pick off
 with friends who are growing their own.               a tree!

  Try this tasty recipe – packed with flavour and vegetables!

  Sunshine Chunky Pasta
  • 300g dried pasta twists
  • 4 rashers lean unsmoked back bacon
  • 200g baby carrots, scrubbed and halved lengthways
  • 200g runner beans, trimmed and sliced
  • 200g peas
  • 200g broccoli, trimmed into small florets                        Community food
  • 3tbsp red pesto sauce
  Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta
  and cook for 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.              If you would like to grow your
                                                                     own but you simply do not have
  Meanwhile, grill the bacon until crisp and cut into small          the room or it is not practical,
  pieces. Place a steamer above a saucepan of boiling water          then there are a number of
  and steam the carrots and runner beans for 10 minutes,             options run by community food
  then add the peas and broccoli for a further 5 minutes.            projects which allow you to
  Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan, add the pesto       participate.
  sauce and 2tbsp water and heat through for 2 minutes.              The Fresh Ideas Network supports
  Arrange the carrots around four plates. Mix the remaining          community food projects in the south
  vegetables and the bacon with the pasta and spoon onto             east, which aim to make healthy,
  plates.                                                            locally sourced and produced food
                                                                     more easily available for all. Its aim is
  Recipe from – visit the
                                                                     to link projects and people involved in
  website for many more.
                                                                     food work at ground level, supporting
                                                                     them by offering information, training
                                                                     and a chance to meet and share ideas.
                                                                     Visit to
                                                                     view a project directory with
                                                                     information about a wide range of
                                                                     food projects that run many different
                                                                     activities, from fruit and veg bag
Preparation and planning can save you time and                       schemes to healthy eating cookery
money and reduce food waste. By planning your                        courses. There are 15 projects listed
meals for the week or even a fortnight, you can add                  for Kent and Medway, so you can
variety and make use of all the ingredients in your                  check what’s going on in your area.
cupboards, fridge and freezer.                                       The website also has information
                                                                     about events, conferences, training
Food websites such as can
                                                                     and resources. Call Chiara on
even help you decide the correct portions of food for adults
                                                                     01273 431710 and Louisa on
and children, which will also help eliminate leftovers and
                                                                     01273 431711 to find out more.
reduce waste. On the site you will also find some fantastic
tasty recipes.
A good varied diet of basic fruit and vegetables, balanced with      Places for support and help
meat, fish, pasta and pulses is beneficial to good health. There
are ways to ensure that you and your family eat healthily no
matter what your budget is. A great tip is to buy produce  
when it is in season – that way it will be plentiful, local and at
the best available price.
f          uel
              and other household
Do you have to make the choice
between heating and eating?                             Are you paying too
Spiralling gas and electricity prices
mean that many people can’t afford                      much for your gas
to do both properly. Anyone who
pays more than 10% of their
                                                        and electricity?
household income for heating and
lighting their home is in what is                       If you are paying with a pre-payment key
                                                        or card meter it could be costing you a
known as ‘fuel poverty’.                                much higher rate for each unit of gas or

Are you entitled to the                                 Talk to your supplier and ask them to change
                                                        the type of meter you have to give you a better
winter fuel payment?                                    tariff. The Government has recently put pressure
                                                        on energy suppliers to reduce pre-payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual payment of up      meter tariffs, so it is worth speaking with your
to £400 to help people aged 60 and over with the        supplier to make sure you are getting the lowest
costs of keeping warm. Have you had yours this year?    rate possible. Even if you have spoken to them
Claims need to be made before 30th March                in the past it may be worth calling again as
2010. The Winter Fuel Payment Helpline is on 08459      things can change.
1515 15 (0845 601 5613 for text phone users).           Most suppliers give discounted fuel tariffs for
Details of you local Housing Benefit Offices can        people in fuel poverty. These are called
be found in the benefits section of this publication.   Social Tariffs and can give a discount of up to
                                                        20%. Different companies have different criteria
                                                        for when you become eligible, so contact your
                                                        supplier to see if you qualify.

 Top tips to keep
 your bills down
 n Switch lights off when you leave a room
 n Replace standard light bulbs with energy-
   saving ones                                          Case Study
 n Appliances left on stand-by use up to 85%            A resident of Town & Country Housing has
   of energy to keep them powered – turn                spoken with us about her experience of
   them off                                             the problems that tenants face with their
 n Don’t overfill your kettle – boil only what          energy bills and also about how she now
   you need                                             helps out other residents by giving them
                                                        her time and experience.
 n Choose a 30 degrees programme when
   using your washing machine                           “When I first moved into my housing association
                                                        home it already had a key meter fitted for the
 n Have a shower instead of a bath as this uses
                                                        electricity and a card meter for the gas. These
   less water
                                                        both had debts on them from the previous
 n Turn down your heating by just 1 degree              tenant. When I tried to get these debts removed,
   – this can save up to £60 per year                   I was told to pay the outstanding amount and
 n Adjust radiator controls to avoid over-              then claim a refund. I did this but it took a long
   heating rooms that don’t need it                     time and a lot of letters and phone calls to get
                                                        the money repaid.
 To find out how you can save on your energy bills go
 to the Energy Savings Trust website for hints and      After I had lived at my home for a few months I
 tips and a questionnaire to help save you money.       calculated that I was paying about £25 per week
                                                        on gas and £15 a week in electricity. After doing
 For free, independent, energy saving advice call the   some research, I found that by having a key and
 Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 or visit           card meter I was paying a standard daily charge                           for the meter and also an increased tariff for each
                                                        unit of electricity I used. After talking with both
                                                        suppliers and giving a budget of my finances I was
                                                        able to get a reduced social tariff which greatly
                                                        reduced my weekly costs.
                                                        I now volunteer for the Housing Association as a
                                                        Financial Inclusion Champion and attend housing
                                                        surgeries helping other residents with making
                                                        claims for benefits and entitlements.”

g                oods
                     white goods and furniture
One of the biggest struggles and                       Household items at affordable prices
worries can be what to do when                         You can buy second hand furniture or white goods
an appliance such as a washing                         such as washing machines and fridges (tested if
                                                       electrical) from the following charity warehouses:
machine or fridge fails.
Buying new is often not an option or one that may      Within West Kent British Heart Foundation
lead to taking out a loan or adding to a credit card   (furniture and white goods) 0844 248 9110
debt, but there are alternatives. While the local      Hospice in the Weald Furniture Warehouse
free papers and websites such as eBay offer            (also mobility equipment) 01892 536442
bargain second-hand goods these are often not          West Kent YMCA Furniture Warehouse
tested for safety, especially where electrical goods   Tunbridge Wells 01892 615612
are concerned. There are organisations within the      Tonbridge 01732 367764
Furniture Re-Use Network who test white goods to       Within East Kent Furniture Re-use Network
make sure you are buying safely.                       is always a good source of furniture and white goods
                                                       and the website ( offers a number
                                                       of outlets in the area.
                                                       Ashford Gateway Church Furniture & Baby
                                                       01233 638878
                                                       Bromley Give2Give
                                                       0845 680 6888
                                                       Canterbury Necessary Furniture Project
                                                       01227 712680
                                                       Crayford Sense Trading
                                                       01322 554999
                                                       Dover St Martins Emmaus
                                                       01304 204550
                                                       Margate British Heart Foundation
                                                       0844 499 4187
                                                       Rochester Re Computer Recycling
                                                       01634 715382
                                                       Sevenoaks Abacus Furniture
                                                       01732 743365
  If you have moved to a smaller home
  or have any unwanted furniture or                    Sittingbourne Neighbourhood Furniture Store
  white goods, why not donate them to                  01795 478550
  the YMCA furniture scheme? You can                   Tonbridge Bridge Trust For The Homeless
  contact them on the numbers opposite                 01732 368 363
  and they may even pick up your items.                Tunbridge Wells/Maidstone West Kent YMCA
  The items need to be in good                         01892 615 612
  condition and working order.                         Wye Wyecycle Ltd
                                                       01233 813298

health               and wellbeing
Looking after your own health and that of your
family can be difficult on a low income; social
circumstances can also affect health. Diet, stress
and abuse are just three factors which can lead
to changes in your circumstances and well-being.
When you are unwell your ability to cope with the simple
things in life, let alone the more pressing, can be traumatic
and in-turn this can add to your stress. Sometimes more
specialist care is needed but you may not know where to
turn. Often a visit to your doctor is the best option as they
have details and advice on organisations that can help
with a variety of health related issues. Like debt, issues
which affect your health are best shared with experts
and friends or family and not ignored.

  Credit Crunch Stressline 0300 123 2000
  Stress brought on through unemployment or
  fear of unemployment is perfectly normal and
  during a recession more people suffer from
  distress, depression and anxiety. Worries mount
  up about jobs, debt, and housing. By seeking
  advice and support early on you can prevent
  more serious problems. Expert advice from
  them will help you get your life back on track.
  The National Health Service (NHS) has set up the
  Credit Crunch Stressline for people who are worried
  by the credit crunch. This service supports and links
  with a range of help already available through the
  NHS. The Credit Crunch Stressline is staffed by health
  advisers who will talk to you over the phone and give
  you the help you need to overcome your difficulties.
  The Stressline will
  1. listen to you
  2. offer you useful information you can trust
  3. guide you through your crisis
  4. help you to get back in control of your life

health                  who can you turn to?
Support for health issues is also
available if you are suffering from
                                                              Who can you call if you are
physical and mental abuse.                                    experiencing any of these?
Often if you are suffering any form of abuse you may          Talk to your housing provider, local Citizens Advice
find it difficult to turn to friends or family, but help is   Bureau or Gateway who will be able to offer help
available and you don’t need to feel alone.                   and guidance through local support, this may be
                                                              a helpline or advocate who will be able to support
                                                              you in the decisions you need to make, or advice
What help is available?                                       on the changes you want to make.
Access to counselling support                                 Call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Services for people experiencing                              – 0808 2000 247
domestic abuse                                                Call Rights of Women – 0207 251 6577
Domestic abuse is all about power and control.                Call the Men’s advice line – 0808 801 0327
Abusive partners may use control over financial               Call Broken Rainbow (Gay helpline) –
resources (such as money) as one of the ways to               0845 260 4460 or 0300 999 5428
try and apply their ‘power’ over others.
                                                              Call the Credit Crunch Stressline –
Services for people experiencing                              0300 123 2000
economic abuse
                                                              Contact Refuge on for a
Economic abuse can take many forms. These can                 copy of ‘You can afford to leave’ – a financial
include:                                                      guide for women and children experiencing
n Preventing you from getting or keeping                      domestic abuse.
  a job
n Making you ask for money
n Making you account for every penny you                      Jargon Buster
  spend by showing receipts/giving all
                                                              Counselling support – Advice and guidance
  change back
                                                              for domestic and health issues.
n Not allowing you to spend money on
                                                              Domestic abuse – Can take the form of
  yourself or your children
                                                              physical or mental abuse. Domestic abuse is used
n Spending money allocated to bills/                          by a partner, spouse or other person to dominate
  groceries on themselves                                     or control a relationship.
n Controlling your bank account                               Economic abuse – Another controlling kind of
n Stealing, taking or demanding money                         abuse in a relationship used to bully, force and
  from you                                                    control a partner. Economic abuse is also a type
n Taking control of any benefits you receive                  of mental and domestic abuse.
n Insisting that all the utility bills or any
  credit is in your name

insurance make sure you have it!
Home contents insurance                                        There are household insurance
If you are working to a tight budget                           schemes available which offer
or have a low income then home                                 benefits to people on low income
insurance may be one of the areas                              or living in rented accommodation.
you neglect or do away with to make                            Schemes specifically tailored to social housing
a saving. Like all insurance it can                            tenants can have a number of advantages over
seem an inconvenient extravagance                              other high street insurance schemes.
until you actually need it.                                    n No policy excess
In rented accommodation your landlord is                       n Policy covers accidental damage to
responsible for most repairs within your home. If a              glazing which many insurers will only
tile falls off the roof they will replace it. If your toilet     cover at an extra cost
leaks they will mend it. But they are not generally            n No minimum security requirements
responsible for damage to your decorations, carpets              – many insurers ask that window locks
and furnishings caused by fire and flood etc.                    are fitted, particularly in some high
Everyone is encouraged to take out home contents                 risk post code areas
insurance so that they are covered in the event of
any damage.                                                    n Premiums can be paid weekly, monthly
                                                                 or yearly – these can be paid in cash
                                                                 and so do not exempt our tenants who
                                                                 do not have bank accounts
                                                               n Cover can be arranged over the phone
                                                                 with assistants who are used to
                                                                 dealing with people with reading and
                                                                 writing difficulties and elderly people
                                                                 who may be easily confused
                                                               n No annual commitment – cover can be
                                                                 cancelled at any time with no penalties
                                                                 (other insurers often have a minimum
                                                                 term of contract – usually one year)
                                                               n Preferable charges for over 60’s
                                                               To find out more about preferential insurance
                                                               schemes contact the Money Box team.

           your                                     Simply write down how much money comes in
                                                    and how much goes out. It’s up to you whether
                                                    you do it for each week or for each month. By adding
                                                    up how much money you have coming in and then
                                                    taking away everything that goes out, it will show how
                                                    much money you have left. Be honest with yourself!

              planner                               Keep your financial details up-to-date by
                                                    downloading spare copies of this budget planner

How much is coming in?                              How much is going out?
Are you claiming all the benefits that you are      Are you spending more than 10 per cent of your
entitled to? If your income has fallen you may be   income on heating and lighting your home? If so then
entitled to more housing benefit.                   you are in what the Government calls ‘fuel poverty’
                                                    and you could be entitled to special cheap rates –
Housing benefit                                     called social tariffs – from your energy supplier.
                                                    Regular bills
Wages after tax
                                                    Mortgage or rent
Partner’s wages after tax
                                                    Council tax
Child benefit
Disability benefits
                                                    Maintenance payments
Income support
Maintenance payments
Tax credits
                                                    Water and sewerage
                                                    Home phone/mobile phone
Savings interest
                                                    TV Licence/NTL/Sky TV
Other income

Total incoming                                      Credit card repayments

Car tax                                 Evening classes                 Have you remembered?
£                                       £                               Regular savings
Car insurance                           Other                           £
£                                       £                               Hair cuts and beauty
School costs (dinners)                  Occasional costs
£                                       Birthdays
                                        £                               Socialising (cinema, eating
Appliance rental
£                                       Pocket money for kids           £
Internet bills                          £
                                                                        Sports club membership
£                                       School trips                    £
Life insurance                          £
                                                                        Newspapers and magazines
£                                       Car repairs/MOT/servicing       £
Medical Insurance                       £
                                                                        Casual spending (sweets etc)
£                                       Clothing                        £
Pension                                 £
£                                       Decorating                      £
Other                                   £
                                                                        Trips out
£                                       Dentist/optician                £
Everyday spending                       £
                                                                        National lottery
Childcare                               Holidays                        £
£                                       £
Food/groceries                          Christmas club                  £
£                                       £
Petrol                                  Vet bills/insurance             Total outgoing
£                                       £
Public transport

  How much is left                                         Total incoming
  Look at how much money you could save by
  going out a little less or cutting down on luxuries
                                                           Total outgoing
  such as cigarettes. If you have access to the
  internet, why not try the interactive budget
  planner at
                                                           Money left over/money needed
                              Turn to the back page

        f o u n d a t i o n
                              to see where you can
                              get FREE help.               £
     your community

                                                             Maidstone Gateway King Street,                Tonbridge Gateway
                                                             Maidstone, ME15 6JQ. 01622 602000             Tonbridge Castle,
                                                             Opening hours :                               Castle Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BG.
                                                             Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday &                  01732 876322
                                                             Friday 8.30 to 5.30                           Monday to Friday 8.30 to 5.00
                                                             Thursday 8.30 to 7.00                         Saturday 9.00 to 5.00
                                                             Saturday 9.00 to 1.00                         Sunday 10.30 to 5.00
                                                                                                           Shorter hours will apply for Saturday
                                                             Tenterden Gateway 2 Manor Row,                and Sunday during winter.
Ashford Gateway 14 Park Mall,                                High Street, TN30 6HP.
Ashford, TN24 8RY. 01233 208610                              01233 330283                                  Tunbridge Wells Gateway
Opening hours:                                               01580 762558 - library.                       8 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday &                                 Opening hours :                               TN1 2AB. 01892 526121
Friday 9.00 to 5.00                                          Monday to Friday 9.00 to 5.30                 Opening hours :
Thursday 10.00 to 5.00                                       Saturday 9.00 to 4.00                         Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday &
Saturday 9.00 to 4.00                                                                                      Friday 9.00 to 5.00
                                                             Thanet’s Gateway Plus Cecil Street,           Thursday 9.00 to 6.30
Dover Gateway 71 Castle Street,                              Margate, CT9 1XZ. 01843 577000                Saturday 10.00 to 4.00
Dover, CT16 1PD. 01304 821199                                Opening hours :
Opening hours :                                              Monday - Friday 9.00 to 6.00
Monday - Friday 9.00 to 5.00                                 Thursday late night opening until 8.00
Saturday 9.00 to 1.00                                        Saturday 9.00 to 5.00

                    Working together for you                                                               08458 247202
Contact details for your local housing benefit office
Ashford Borough Council                                      Gravesham Borough Council                      Swale Borough Council                                                  
01233 331111                                                 01474 337710                                   01795 424341
Canterbury City Council                                      Maidstone Borough Council                      Thanet District Council                                               
01227 862300                                                 01622 602557                                   01843 577000
Crawley Borough Council                                      Medway Council                                 Tonbridge & Malling                                                               Borough Council
01293 438611                                                 01634 306000                         
Dartford Borough Council                                     Kingston Council                               01732 876376                                                            Tunbridge Wells
01322 343705                                                 02085 475198                                   Borough Council
Dover District Council                                       Sevenoaks District Council                                                                         01892 526121
01304 872199                                                 01732 227000                                   Wealden District Council
Eastbourne Borough Council                                   Shepway District Council                                                                        01323 442666
01323 410000                                                 01303 853000

Money Box is brought to you as part of Money Support Services
and the Backing Kent People Campaign which is delivered by Town
and Country Foundation in partnership with Kent County Council.                                                                              people
                                                                                                                                        Real help in tough times

If you need this document in any other format please                                                  f o u n d a t i o n

contact the Money Box team on 01892 501652.                                                       your community
Designed and produced in the UK by Zest.

Shared By: