Our Financial Inclusion Officers are on hand to support you in a range of ways, including:
- Help to check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to
- Support to develop computer skills so you can make claims online
- Advice on where to go to access computers
- Support to develop expertise in money management and choosing the right bank account
- Help to build links with local financial support services
Your Housing Officer will provide you with any support that you need to make applications for Housing Benefit. In addition, if you have a Floating Support Officer, they will be able to help you with budgeting and managing your money.
Over the past year, we have seen the continued rollout of Universal Credit across Sussex. However, you don’t need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstances.
For more information and guidance about current changes to welfare benefits in the UK, visit the Money Matters section of our website.
You may find the Entitled To website useful to check your benefits and see if you are getting all that you may be entitled to receive. If you do use this website and have any queries about your benefits as a result please contact the Housing Management team who can ask our Financial Inclusion Officer to make contact with you to assist.
Maximising money and budgeting
As well as accessing support from your Housing Officer and or Floating Support Officer, there are many other ways to help budget your money:
Similar to banks, these are savings and loans co-operatives, owned and operated by their members. You may find that a credit union will lend you money where ordinary high street banks have refused. Their interest rates also tend to be much lower than a lot of commercial banks and payday loans. If you have large debts a credit union may offer you a “consolidation loan” whereby they will pay off all your high interest creditors and you pay the credit union back at a much lower rate.
The East Sussex Credit Union offers a ‘Jam Jar’ account which your benefits or wages can be paid into. Amounts are then allocated for your rent and bills and you can only access the remaining balance.
Click here to go to the West Sussex Credit Union, Boom’s! Webpage. Click here to go to the East Sussex Credit Union’s webpage.
It is important to open a bank account if you don’t already have one, as many benefits and wages are now paid directly by bank transfer. Everyone should be able to open a basic bank account, irrespective of your credit rating. Most banks will now also accept applications without the need for photo identification.
We would never recommend that you use payday loans because the interest rates are so high that debt can easily spiral out of control. If you find yourself in a position where you are considering a payday loan, please call us and speak to our Financial Inclusion Officer for advice.
It is always good to keep track of your income and outgoings so that you are in control of your finances. Before starting a budget, keep a spending diary for a month, noting down all the things you spend money on. Most people are aware of their direct debits and rent but forget to include smaller expenses such as coffees and launderette charges etc. and these can all add up.
Your Housing Officer can arrange for you to have a benefit check to ensure that you are receiving everything that you should be, or to look at your entitlement if your circumstances change.
It is also worth re-assessing your outgoings. Utilities, telephone bills and insurance costs could all potentially be reduced. Comparison websites are great to find the best deals.
If you owe money, it is important to consider which debts are a priority to pay. Will a debt lead to the loss of your home, imprisonment or a disconnection of a service? It’s important that you prioritise paying these debts first. If you are struggling with your finances, do speak to your Housing Officer who can put you in touch with our Financial Inclusion team who are able to guide and help you with maximising income and budgeting.
The cost of heating and lighting your home can be expensive. It may be worth checking how your current deal compares with others which are available. There are many websites which now allow you to compare tariffs and prices and the following websites may be of interest: uSwitch and MoneySupermarket.