Helping you to to make the most of your money
There will be some customers who are particularly feeling the impact on their household finances because of this tougher economic climate we’re in.
That is why we put together some advice which will hopefully help you to maximise your income or make it work better for you.
Firstly, there is help out there…..and it doesn’t cost anything! The internet can be a confusing place with so many sites offering support. Just remember, “You should never have to pay for advice to get out of debt”. If you find a site offering help for a fee, go elsewhere.
If you are struggling to pay your rent, read this page and see what you might be able to do. But also, don't struggle alone - get in touch and then we can start a conversation.
We’ve asked our teams to come up with their top tips for real and practical help and this is what they came up with:
Complete an income / expenditure form
There are lots of these online but you will probably do best with the Money Helper Budget Planner which is a free and easy to complete form that you can save and refer back to.
Listing all of your income and expenditure will help you with your budgeting as you’ll be able to see where you can possibly increase your household income by reducing what you spend on other areas.
Deal with debts
Contact who you owe money or payments to and request an affordable repayment plan.
If that worries you then contact an independent organisation that offers help and advice to advocate on your behalf, such as
Step Change: StepChange Debt Charity - Free Expert Debt Advice. part of the Money Advice Service. Ring 0800 138 1111 – or complete a contact form via the website. Help available Monday – Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm and Saturday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm.
National Debtline: Debt advice | Free debt advice | National Debtline | National Debtline or ring 0808 808 4000. Help available Monday – Friday between 9.00 am – 8.00 pm and Saturday 9.30 am – 1.00 pm. For help and advice managing debt.
Turn to Us: Fighting UK Poverty - Turn2us or ring 0808 802 2000. Help available from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday. Will provide information about benefit entitlement, grants advice and debt advice. Will tailor advise to fit your situation.
Citizens Advice: find your local centre Citizens Advice or ring 0800 144 8848. Help available from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Check if there are any expenses that can be reduced
You can compare prices on comparison websites for almost everything, but some key household bills are a great place to start e.g. utility bills, broadband and insurance. www.moneysavingexpert.com is a great place to start with this.
Sometimes companies may be able to offer you discounted tariffs e.g. check if you are entitled to a reduced tariff with South West Water. Other ideas include looking at reducing food bills by changing brands, you've probably seen that on some of the TV shows such as Eat Well For Less on the BBC. In fact you may want to play their competition - to see if you can save £1,000 a year through some simple food swaps.
Are you getting all the benefits and support you are entitled to?
You can complete a benefits calculation online to find out. These are really useful tools that do all of the hard work for you. We recommend the online versions that can be found at www.turn2us.org.uk and www.entitledto.co.uk
Organisations such as Age UK and Citizens Advice can offer advice regarding entitlement. Your benefit entitlement will depend on your personal circumstances e.g. age, household members, and if you are you a carer or disabled.
South West Water: South West Water or ring 0344 346 1010. Help available Monday – Friday 8.00 am – 6.00 pm and Saturday 9.00 am – 1.00 pm. Can get tariff help with if on a low income; grant towards debt incurred due to a sudden change of life style or debt matching programme to get debt free. Consider changing to a meter if you are currently on an annual charge. If you have a high water need due to illness, or have child benefit for 3 or more children you can go onto to a fixed weekly charge called WaterSure.
Royal British Legion: Royal British Legion | Armed Forces Charity or ring 0808 802 8080. Help specifically for ex-service personnel and their families. Financial, emotional and grant support available. Help available Monday – Sunday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm
SAFFA: SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity or ring 0800 260 6767. Help specifically for ex-service personnel and their families. Financial, emotional and grant support available. Help available Monday – Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
NHS: The NHS website - NHS (www.nhs.uk) - for advise about prescriptions charges or getting a prepayment certificate or other items needed for your condition. You might be eligialbe for help with other products; speak to your doctor or nurse at your surgery.
Marie Curie: Care and support through terminal illness | Marie Curie or ring 0800 090 2309. Help for people facing terminal illness, help and support from recent diagnosis to ongoing treatments. Help available Monday to Friday 8.00 am - 6.00 pm and Saturday 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Are there any other ways of increasing your household income?
Check out this government website which provides a huge range of options: Help for Households - Get government cost of living support
Sometimes there are others in your household who aren't contributing to your household income but ought to be asked? e.g. asking adult children to contribute to the household income.
If you have a spare room, it may be possible to offer this out to a lodger. You will need your landlord’s permission for this but it may be worth thinking about as it does not affect any universal credit that you may be receiving.
Do you need emergency help with food and money?
There are organisations such as the Trussell Trust across Devon and Cornwall that provide information on how to access foodbanks and where to get help with money in an emergency.
Westward offers a Household Support Fund which all customers are able to apply for, learn more and apply here Household Support Fund.
You can also just search 'foodbanks' online or contact your Local Authority for emergency support.
Are you considering a payday loan? First look at these alternatives.
Payday loans can be a very expensive way to borrow money. If you need to take out credit you should consider your alternatives.
If you're already struggling to get by, then taking out a payday loan will probably only make your situation worse. The best solution is to get free and impartial debt help and a practical solution.
What are the alternatives to payday loans?
- Your local credit union: they provide affordable financial products and are likely to be far cheaper than payday loans, so take a look at rates on Westcountry Savings & Loans
- Sell your unwanted items: have a clear out and turn these into cash through a free sales site such as Facebook marketplace
- Cut back: StepChange debt charity offers great advice on how to reduce your spending as this might be just enough to avoid needing the payday loan trap
- Ask friends or family: if considered carefully a friends and family loan could save you a lot of worry when trying to repay a payday loan. However, first make sure that you’re able to afford the repayments. Before you do anything, you should talk about what might happen if you can’t afford to pay it back and how this could affect your relationship as it might not be worth it
- Get debt advice: if you're considering a payday loan to deal with an existing problem then you'd be much better getting some free and impartial debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity, Citizens Advice or Money Helper
Are you struggling with your rent or council tax?
You may be able to apply for assistance from your local authority e.g. Discretionary Housing Payment or Exceptional Hardship Fund?
Details can be found by searching on your local authority website.
Use a managed account to pay your priority bills
Use a managed account to pay your priority bills
If you are dealing with a reduced income, or income that changes all the time, then you may find a managed account works for you.
It will ensure that the money is taken to pay your priority bills and leave you with the money that is left over to spend.
It’s a useful way of budgeting when you aren’t sure what your income is going to be regularly.
Westcountry Savings and Loans can offer you an account like this or you may be able to find one with another credit union or bank.
The team at Westward are here to help as much as we can.
If you think or know that your rent account is in arrears and you have not set up an arrangement with us, it is now more important than ever that you contact us to discuss your situation. We will make sure that you feel you can manage the payments and that they are realistic for you.
There are many ways that we can help you to begin resolving the financial problems that you may be facing, but we are unable to do this without you speaking to us. We don't want you to lose your home and it's never too late to get in touch.
Our Westward Assurance is:
If you fall behind with your rent payments because you are struggling financially due to the impact of the cost of living crisis, you will not lose your home so long as you are talking to us and working with us.
We just need you to ask us to get in touch by clicking on the Contact Us link. If you are struggling…don’t hesitate, do it now. Book that conversation!
If you are a support customer, please arrange this through your support / housing worker.
Please call us on 0300 100 1010 or get in touch using the Contact Us form above now.