Financial difficulties

Pay your rent or mortgage

You need to pay your rent or mortgage to avoid losing your home. Start paying again if you have stopped. This is more important than paying towards unsecured loans, credit cards, hire purchase etc - those lenders cannot take your home away from you but your landlord or mortgage company can.

If you cannot afford the whole of your mortgage repayment talk to your lender about this. See mortgage arrears for advice.

If you are already facing eviction because you are behind with your rent see the eviction page.

If you need help to pay the rent, claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, even if you are in work.

  • If you work variable hours, including under a zero-hours contract, then you can claim based on your last 2 months income if you are paid monthly or 5 weeks income if you are paid weekly; you will then need to report your income at the end of each month or week, and your claim will then by adjusted accordingly.
  • If you have applied for Housing Benefit but are not receiving payments then ask the Benefits team if there is a problem and sort it out. You are responsible for paying your rent not the Council, and so you need to take responsibility for making sure the Housing Benefit is paid.

If you receive Housing Benefit you need to spend the whole of each payment on your rent to avoid falling into arrears. This is because rent is normally due a month in advance and if you use your Housing Benefit for something else you will not be able to pay the rent when it is due. It is therefore best to pay your Housing Benefit towards your rent as soon as you receive it.

If your Housing Benefit does not cover the whole of your rent, you need to pay the difference to the landlord from your other income by the due date.

  • If your circumstances have changed so that you can no longer afford your rent you may be granted a Discretionary Housing Payment for a short time (normally up to 13 weeks) to give you time to find a long term solution.
  • If the reason your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element does not cover the whole rent is because you are under-occupying social housing.

Help to sort out your finances

  • Free financial advice is available at The Money Advice Service.
  • For specialist and free debt advice contact National debt line on 0808 808 400 or the Step Change Debt Charity or see My Money Steps.
  • For face to face advice about money, debt, benefits and mortgage difficulties contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
  • DHA provide free advice, advocacy and representation to deal with debt and benefit difficulties: see DHA or call 01332 287 850.
  • Debt Support Trust is a registered national debt advice charity helping people with their debt problems across the UK
  • Free debt management services are available from Payplan.
  • For benefits and finding work contact Jobcentre Plus on 0845 6060 234 or at Job Centre Plus.
  • Work out how much you are receiving and spending by completing a financial statement.
  • If you need to develop the skills to manage your money and bills, get help from a Support Service.
  • For help to manage your water bills see South Staffordshire Water.
  • To cut your energy bills see Heating and Insulation.
  • If you smoke then quitting would save you money; contact Time to Quit free on 0800 0434304 or see smoke free for help.

If you owe money to an illegal money lender (loan shark), especially if they are harassing you, please report them to the Government's Illegal Money Lending Team.

Email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk, or call 0300 555 2222 (available 24 hours), or text LOAN SHARK and the lender’s details to 60003. You do not have to give your name. The service will support you and work with others to keep you safe.

The minimum wage

Make sure you are receiving the minimum wage for any work you do.

If your employer provides you with free accommodation then this is counted as being worth £34.37 per week. If you pay your employer for accommodation, any amount you pay more than £34.37 per week is not counted as wages for minimum wage purposes.

  • Example: You work 40 hours per week at £7 per hour, which is £280 per week. However you pay your employer £100 per week rent. Hence the amount counted as wages is £280 - (£100-£34.37) = £214.37. For 40 hours work this is £5.36 per hour. If aged 21+ you are not receiving the Minimum Wage.

Urgent needs

Door step lenders and pay day loans charge massive interest rates and there are alternatives:

  • If you are on benefits you can normally borrow money from the Government.
  • If not, the Staffordshire County Council Local Crisis Support Scheme can help with lots of emergency needs including food, energy, furniture and domestic appliances. (NOTE: This Scheme ends December 2016 - Last day for white goods applications is 20/12/16, Last day for food and fuel applications is 30/12/16). Call 0300 111 8008.
  • Local churches provide a Soup Kitchen at 22 Rangemore Street in Burton (behind the Town Hall), 12-2pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • The Salvation Army provides food parcels through its Soup Kitchen, and Burton YMCA provides food parcels from the Reconnect Centre on Orchard Street in Burton.
  • If you are behind with your water bills apply for help from the South Staffordshire Water Charitable Trust.

Plan ahead - Credit Unions

Joining a Credit Union is one way to plan ahead for emergencies and expensive times of year. Credit Unions are not-for-profit organisations run by members for members. According to money saving expert Martin Lewis almost a million people in the UK already belong to a Credit Union.

With a Credit Union you can save as little as you can afford, and after saving for a few months you can apply for a loan which is much cheaper than pay-day loans or doorstep lenders, even for just a small amount.

Credit Unions are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and your money is as safe as in normal savings accounts because it is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Residents of East Staffordshire can join the following Credit Unions. If you work you may also be able to join a Credit Union through your employer.

  • Money Spider Credit Union covers the local area, works in partnership with the Borough Council, and has local collection points. For details call (01283) 214434 or see www.moneyspidercu.org.uk.
  • Staffordshire Credit Union covers the whole of Staffordshire, works with the County Council, and allows you to manage your account on-line. For more details call 0845 224 1215 or see www.staffscu.co.uk.