Citizens Advice Column - February/March 22
Getting Your Finances In Order – Top Tips For The New Year
Christmas is over and it’s about now that the bills start to roll in. It could be credit card bills, loan payment reminders, overdraft statements, or friends and family coming back to you to ask you to settle up. You will also soon receive, if you haven’t already, Council Tax demands for the upcoming year and, for those who pay quarterly, utility bills.
It can all look daunting and overwhelming especially if you are on a low income or are uncertain of your finances. Below are some top tips for making sure a drama doesn’t turn into a crisis.
- Money and budgeting help: whatever your financial situation we can all do with looking again at our household budgets as we enter a new year. For general help with money matters and budgeting visit Moneyhelper at moneyhelper.org.uk/en/contact-us/money-guidance, call them on 0800 138 7777 (calls are free), or contact your local Citizens Advice.
- Support for the unemployed or low earners: for those who find themselves unemployed, or employed but on a low income, you may be eligible for Universal Credit or a similar ‘earnings replacement’ benefit. Go to gov.uk/universal-credit or call the Help to Claim service on 0800 144 8 444 to find out if you are eligible.
- Support for those subject to a sudden change in their life situation: if you have suffered a recent disability, have become a full-time carer, or turned pension age, there is financial (and other) support available to you. Contact Citizens Advice for details on 0800 144 8848 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/ to check your entitlements.
- Support for those paying the utility bills: contact your supplier immediately if you are struggling with your bills and need help. Alternatively, there is financial help, through the Government’s Household Support Fund, for those most in need. There is also access to charity funds which may help with arrears. Get expert advice from your nearest local Citizens Advice.
- Support for those paying Council Tax: Council Tax bills will soon be at your door. Check with your local authority whether you are exempt from liability, or you can apply for various CT discounts. In exceptional circumstances CT debts can be written-off. Most importantly, find out if you are entitled to Council Tax Support in your area.
- Support for those in debt: keeping up with incoming and ongoing bills is a difficult job by itself. Effectively managing accumulating debts, especially multiple debts, requires expert help. Seek advice early if you can. Contact your nearest local Citizens Advice or visit citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/ to see what we can do to help you.
It is tempting, when faced with multiple claims on a low income, to bury your head and avoid action. This is the time to summon up your strength and seek expert help.
The tips above show that help is out there no matter what your circumstances. You can take control of your finances and you can improve your situation.
If you need support contact your nearest local Citizens Advice office or alternative independent advice agency. Don’t let money worries get you down. Take action as early as you can.
Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.