MONEY

Benefits 

 

It's important to make sure that you get all the help that

you're entitled to.

The Department for Work and Pensions has produced an online

guide which can help you check if you qualify for certain benefits.

It can also give you an estimate of how much you may be able to get.

It covers the main benefits including:

  • Attendance Allowance

  • Carer's Allowance

  • Child Benefit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Disability Living Allowance

  • Housing Benefit

  • Income Support

  • Jobseeker's Allowance.

To see the online guide, go to the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

The online guide is only for people aged 18 or over. It also won't be suitable for you if you're a prisoner, non-UK national, a student or permanently living in a nursing home. If you're in these situations, you can find more information on the benefits you might be able to get by following the links on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

There might be other benefits that you can get that are not included in the online guide. To check whether you may be entitled to other benefits, see the citizens advice Benefits section.

If you would like to use a benefit calculator then please click the link below. 

www.entitledto.co.uk

Saving Money 

 

You want to be able to pay for an unexpected repair, but it's

also important to have enough money for a few in a sticky situation. 

Saving just £3 a day adds up to £1095 over a year.

a good rule of thumb is to have three months essential outgoings

available in an instant access savings account. So, if you spend

£1000 a month on mortgage or rent, food, heating bills and other

things you cant live without, you should aim for £3000 in emergency savings.

You will find lots of useful information on www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/how-to-save-money

Bank Accounts 

 

CURRENT ACCOUNTS

Most people use a current account with a bank or building society to manage their day-to-day money.

  • They have all the features you might need, such as automated payments, cash cards, debit cards, Direct Debits and cheques.

  • You can access most current accounts through a high street branch, online, using mobile banking or over the phone.

  • You can get regular statements to help you keep track of your money.

  • Some accounts charge high fees and interest if you go overdrawn,

  • and most have bank charges if there’s not enough in your account

  • to cover a Direct Debit or standing order.

BASIC BANK ACCOUNTS

Basic bank accounts have most of the same features as a current account, such as a card to withdraw cash, and Direct Debits. The main difference is that they don’t provide an overdraft facility.

  • This makes them an option if you’ve got a poor credit history because the bank doesn’t need to carry out a credit check on you.

  • No overdraft also means you can't accidentally spend too much and get into debt.

  • You may be able to arrange for regular statements (eg monthly) to help you keep track, but not all accounts offer this.

  • You may still be charged if there’s not enough in your account to cover a standing order or Direct Debit.

  • Find out more about basic bank accounts

  • Go to our current accounts comparison table and select the ‘basic’ option

  • Find out which basic bank accounts are recommended by MoneySavingExpert.com
     

  • JAM JAR ACCOUNTS (ALSO CALLED RENT ACCOUNTS AND BUDGETING ACCOUNTS)

    With a jam jar account, you divide your account into different 'pots' or 'jars'. Typically, there are different pots for bills and spending and there may be a pot for saving too. You decide how much money goes into each pot by working out how much you need for your bills and how much is left over for spending or saving.

    Some jam jar accounts consist of a basic bank account linked to a prepaid card. So your wages and benefits are paid into the account. You decide how much you need to set aside for bill payments then put the remaining money onto the prepaid card for spending.

    Most jam jar accounts come with budgeting advice and support provided online or over the phone. They help you set up the account and decide how much money you need to set aside for bills and other outgoings each month.

    • The advantage of a jam jar account is that you can be sure that when rent day (or bill day) comes, the money will be there to cover the payment.

    • You may be able to arrange text alerts to warn you if your balance is running low.

    • You might have access to advice on managing your money.

    • The disadvantage is that these accounts charge a fee – usually £5-£15 a month – however, you might decide that it’s a price worth paying if it means you can avoid missed payment charges and overdraft fees.

    If you’re interested in opening a jam jar account, and you rent a council or housing association property, it’s a good idea to speak to your landlord or council. Some social housing landlords and local authorities are making arrangements with providers (such as your local credit union) to offer these types of account and these often have lower fees or they pay the fees for you.

    Alternatively, you could try your local credit union - see below - to see if they offer a jam jar account. Or run an internet search for ‘jam jar accounts’ to see what’s available and compare fees and services.
     

    CREDIT UNION ACCOUNTS

    Credit unions are ‘not-for-profit’ community organisations that are mainly set up to offer savings accounts and loans to their members. Some of them also offer current accounts that allow you to receive electronic payments and set up Direct Debits and standing orders. Some credit unions are also developing jam jar accounts.

    • Credit unions can be an option if you’ve had difficulty opening an account with a bank or building society.

    • They don’t offer overdrafts, but you might be able to apply for a loan. They encourage you to only borrow what you can afford to repay.

    • Not all credit unions offer bank account facilities, and there may not be a credit union where you live – so this is not an option for everyone.

    • Credit union jam jar accounts usually have a monthly fee but this is often fairly low.


     

    POST OFFICE® CARD ACCOUNTS

    Post Office® card accounts are specifically designed for receiving benefits and pension payments.

    • Once the account is open, your benefit payments are credited directly to your account.

    • You can't get into debt as there is no overdraft facility on the card account.

    • You can only withdraw cash or check your balance at a Post Office branch – not at any other cashpoint.

    • You can’t use these accounts to set up automated bill payments such as Direct Debits and standing orders. This will be even more of a downside under Universal Credit because you’ll be responsible for paying your own rent.
       

    PREPAID CARDS

    Although it is possible to have your benefits transferred onto a prepaid card, there are a few things you need to be aware of before going ahead.

    • Prepaid cards come with a variety of charges. You will need to check with the provider before you buy.

    • Having all your money on one card doesn’t allow you to keep your money for bills separate from your money for spending.

    • Not all prepaid cards allow you to set up automated bill payments for your rent, gas or electricity. This can mean having to withdraw large sums of cash each time a bill needs to be paid.

    However, they do have some advantages:

    • You can't get into debt as there is no overdraft facility on a prepaid card.

    • It’s possible to make one-off electronic bill payments with some prepaid cards, giving you control over when the payment is made.

    One way of using a prepaid card is to operate it alongside a bank account. You leave enough money to cover your rent and other bills in your account and load all of your spending money onto the prepaid card. This gives you control over how much you spend and means you avoid bank charges and penalties on your account for returned standing orders or Direct Debits.

Debt 

 

If you’re starting to struggle to make your repayments on time, it’s important you know which debts to pay first.

The debts you should pay first are called priority debts. These aren’t necessarily the largest debts or the debts with the highest interest rate. But if you don’t pay them, you could end up:

  • Losing your home – because you’re not keeping up mortgage or rent payments

  • Being made bankrupt – because you’ve haven’t paid your tax bills

  • Having your heating or lighting cut off – because you haven’t paid your fuel bills

  • Receiving a court summons
     

PRIORITY DEBTS YOU SHOULD PAY OFF FIRST

If you're unable to meet all your bills and debt repayments, you should pay these first:

  • Mortgage, rent and any loans secured against your home

  • Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT

  • Council Tax

  • Gas and electricity bills

  • Child maintenance

  • TV licence

  • Hire purchase agreements, if what you're buying with them is essential

  • Court fines
     

GET FREE HELP IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH DEBT

If you are really struggling, contact one of the many free, confidential and independent debt advice organisations – they will help you work out a solution tailored to your individual circumstances.

Below are some useful organisations.

Step Change Debt Charity - www.stepchange.org

Tel: 0800 138 1111 Mon-Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 9am-3pm

National Debtline- www.nationaldebtline.org

Tel: 0808 808 4000 Mon- Fri 9am-9pm and Sat 9:30am-1pm

Business Debtline - www.bdl.org.uk 

Tel: 0800 197 6026 Mon - Fri 9am - 5.30pm

Kirklees Citizens Advice

Tel: 0844 848 7970 Mon-Fri 9:30am-3:30pm 

Christians Against Poverty CAP- www.capdebthelp.org 

Tel: 0800 328 0006 or 01274 760839