What you need to know

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1 Running an Aspire Home What you need to know

2 Running a home can prove to be very expensive and if it s your first time it can be quite a scary experience. This booklet contains information and advice about setting up your new home and will give you an idea of what you will have to budget for. If you are managing a household budget for the first time or are moving to a larger property you will need to think carefully about how much money you will need to set up home and pay your bills. You will need to make sure that you can afford these costs before you accept any offer of a home that Aspire Housing might make you. Rent If you move into one of our homes you will sign a tenancy agreement. This means that you are committed to paying us rent and if you don t pay then you could lose your home - so paying your rent is a priority. Aspire Housing s preferred method of payment is Direct Debit and it is the easiest way to pay your rent. Details will be provided if you sign for one of our homes. The charges opposite are some average rent figures for our different property types (excluding any support or service charges):

3 Average weekly rent Studio/bedsit bed bed bed bed bed or more Housing Benefit may be able to help with your rent if you are on a low income. We can do a benefit calculation with you when you register for housing and before you sign for a property to see if you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. We have a team of specially trained officers who can give you help and advise about benefits, bank accounts, personal debt and credit unions. Contact us on Tel: for more information. Council Tax Council Tax is payable in addition to rent for general services provided by the Borough Council or which the Council has to contribute to, e.g. Fire Service. Aspire Housing homes are usually in Band A or Band B. Costs can vary dependant upon the area of the Borough of Newcastle that you live, but the average costs are currently:- Council Tax charges for Band A Band B Weekly Yearly If you live in a property on your own you will be entitled to 25% discount off your bill. Dependent on your circumstances you may also be entitled to claim Council Tax benefit. We can do a Council Tax benefit calculation

4 with you when you register for housing and before you sign for a property to see if you may be entitled to Council Tax Benefit. Water Rates The use of water in your home is measured by actual water usage if a meter is installed or is based on the rateable value of the property. If your water bill is based on the property s rateable value then this will be a fixed amount irrespective of the amount of water you use. A single person or couple may benefit from having a water meter so if there isn t one fitted and you think that having one could save you money then you can contact the water supplier. Bills for properties with a water meter vary from around 3 per week for one person to over 12 per week for a family. Water rates are calculated on the rateable value of the property (or what council tax band you are in) For homes without a meter a rough idea of bills would be: 6.85 per week The above figures are only rough estimates so make sure you check with your water supplier, Severn Trent Water, for accurate prices.

5 Gas and Electric You will need to heat and light your home and cook and operate electrical appliances. Having the same supplier for your gas and electric (dual fuel) and paying by Direct Debit generally will save you money on your bills. You should also regularly compare energy prices to get the best price. You can do this via price comparison websites such as moneyangels.co.uk. Energywatch has provided the following guide as to how much your combined gas and electricity bill is likely to cost, though it will depend on the size of your home and how often you use your things like your central heating, electrical appliances etc. 1 bed flat 12 per week 2 bed house 20 per week 3 bed house 25 per week TV Licence If you have a television in your home then by law you must buy a TV licence. Current charges are for a colour TV and 49 for a back and white TV. You can purchase this annually or set up payments on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis to help you budget. For more information visit

6 Home Contents Insurance Although it s not a legal requirement to insure the contents of your home we strongly advise it. Think about how much it would cost if you had to replace things if you were burgled or had a fire. Aspire Housing has negotiated a low cost Home Insurance specifically designed for tenants and cover can start from as little as 3.15 per month. As an Aspire tenant you would not be obliged to have insurance from ourselves and we recommend that you compare prices with other insurance companies to ensure that you are getting the best deal. Food Your food and household goods costs will vary from household to household, but typical costs, according to the national debtline website are: Single person 40 per week 2 people 75 per week Per child 16 to 30 per week If you have children and they have school meals you will also need to budget for this. Average school meals cost: Primary School 9 per week Secondary School 15 per week Free school meals are available to children whose parents receive Income Support, Income-Based JSA, Income Related Employment and Support

7 Allowance or Child Tax Credit with an annual income less than 16,190. For further details on school meals contact Staffordshire County Council on Other costs There are a number of other costs that you need to consider when running a home: Clothing allow per month per child (particularly for young children) and per month per adult Travel if you own a car you need to allow for the amount you spend on petrol, tax, insurance and maintenance of your vehicle. If you regularly use public transport you may find that a Travel Card will help to keep costs down. Landline/Mobile phone BT line rental is approximately 12 per month plus the cost of you calls. Other supplier s line rental and call costs may vary so check with the individual supplier for details. If you have a mobile phone, don t forget to budget for contract, call charges or top-up costs Your First Home? If this is the first time you have thought about setting up your own home there are extra costs you will need to think about in addition to the costs described above. Standard items such as a new fridge or sofa can cost over 200. Here are some of the basics you may need to buy: Furniture Carpets & Curtains Cooker Washing machine White goods e.g fridge, freezer Bed linen Towels Kitchen utensils Television Vacuum cleaner Aspire Housing can provide advice on ways to furnish and equip your home with a limited budget.

8 Loans You can apply for a budgeting loan to pay for essential household items if you have received Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers allowance or Pension Credit for at least 26 weeks. These are interest free so you only have to pay back what you borrow. Go to for more info. If you don t qualify for a budgeting loan you could get a low cost loan from the Credit Union. Go to for more info. You may be entitled to a Community Care Grant (which you do not need to pay back). To check if you qualify go to or contact your local Jobcentre Plus. Beware the Loan Sharks! If you can t afford new household items, don t be tempted into borrowing from doorstep sales people or money lenders. You will pay very high interest rates, which will make your loan difficult to pay off. You should also be wary of furniture stores that charge a high rate of interest as you could end up paying a lot more than you bargained for. Also if you are working beware Pay day Loans, if in doubt come and talk to our Income Team for assistance. If you are struggling with bills or debt and need help then our Income Management Team can help. We can advise on benefits, how to budget, manage debts, opening a bank account and other general enquires about money. Call us on Tel:

9 My Personal Budget - Tear off and keep This simple budget sheet will let you see how much money you have coming in every week or month and an average of how much you would have to pay out to run your home. Make sure that all your incomings and outgoings are changed into weekly amounts. Incomings Weekly Monthly Wages Jobseekers Allowance Income Support Incapacity Benefit Child Benefit Child Tax Credit Working Tax Credit Pension Pension Credit Maintenance Other Total (A) Outgoings Weekly Monthly Rent (after Housing Benefit) Council Tax Water Gas Electricity Home Contents Insurance TV License Food Household expenses Clothing Landline/Mobile Car insurance & Tax Petrol/diesel Public Transport Childcare costs School Meals Credit Card payments Loan repayments Fines Store Cards Other Total (B)

10 Total A Minus - Total B Disposable Income = Remember, you must pay your bills as a priority RENT COUNCIL TAX ELECTRICITY GAS WATER If your disposable income figure is positive then you can probably afford the costs of running a home based on your current circumstances. If this figure is negative then you will be paying out more than you have coming in each week and this means that you are in risk of debt. If this would apply to you then you need to seriously consider whether you are in a position to set up home at the moment. Taking on your own tenancy is a serious decision to make and statistics show that many tenancies fail as people dont realise just how much it costs to run a home. Questions you might want to ask your self as you make this decision are: Can I really afford this? Is there anyway that I can reduce these costs? Would someone be prepared to move in with me and share the tenancy so that we can share the bills? Do I have to move right now? Or shall I wait until I have some savings to help me? If you cant afford to pay your rent and bills every month you may face serious consequences. Think about it!

11 How Aspire may be able to help you Aspire currently offers a range of services to customers who are moving in or would like to move in to an Aspire tenancy. Moving on Moving in A range of courses that are designed to give you the skills and knowledge to help you settle into your new home. The courses are free and are primarily aimed at the under 25 s however if you are over 25 and think you could benefit from attending move on move in then you are welcome to attend. For more information or to book a place on a course contact us on Soft Furnishings A service providing carpets, curtains and selected flat pack bedroom furniture to new and existing Aspire tenants based on vulnerability and income. Further information and assessment of suitability for this service can be provided if you are offered a tenancy with Aspire. Furniture Mine The Furniture mine collects unwanted furniture and passes them on to people in the community who are on benefits or low incomes. Further information and assessment of suitability for this service can be provided if you are offered a tenancy with Aspire. PM Training PM Training works mainly with young people with limited formal qualifications, preparing them for the world of work through: Practical work experience Social and personal skills Off the job training Readiness for work skills For more information contact PM Training on

12 If you would like further advice on benefits, debt or money management then contact us on Tel: Disclaimer Aspire Housing has taken all reasonable care to ensure the information provided in this leaflet is accurate. All figures however are estimates and by way of illustration only and will vary depending on your own personal circumstances. Aspire Housing will not be held responsible for any direct or indirect loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any reliance, by any person, on any inaccuracy, error or omission within this document. Aspire Housing Kingsley, The Brampton Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire ST5 0QW T: F: minicom: E: June 2011

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