Money and Debt Advice

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1 Money and Debt Advice

2 Introduction Hyde Plus provides confidential, unbiased advice on a range of money-related topics, no matter how big or small the money worry. This booklet will provide you with some basic money tips so you can take control of these worries. If you would like us to work with you on any money concerns, we also provide a free one-to-one confidential advice service by phone and in person. Contact Hyde Plus for help at Freephone , or or visit The Hyde Group website In this booklet you will find out about Priority debts page 3 Non-priority debts page 4 Budgeting and top tips page 5 Universal Credit page 6-7 Ways to increase your income page 8 Need to borrow money? page 9 Frequently asked money advice questions page Golden rules for dealing with debt page 12 Helpful contacts page 13 Financial statement page

3 Priority debts Some bills are called priority debts. This means that not paying them could have serious consequences. The table below shows priority debts and what may happen if you don t pay these debts. Types of priority debt Risk if you do not pay Rent/secured loans Lose your home Gas/electricity/water Supply cut off Council tax arrears Bailiffs/imprisonment Magistrates court fines Bailiffs/imprisonment Income tax/vat arrears National Insurance Bailiffs/imprisonment Maintenance / Child Support Bailiffs/imprisonment This is not a complete list but get advice for more information. When you have a priority debt it is important you use any money you have to pay these debts first. Talk to the people you owe money to. They may be able to help you work out a repayment plan. It is important you agree an amount that you can stick to on a regular basis. If you continue to miss payments this may mean further action against you. If you are unsure on the amount to pay, get independent advice (see page 13 for organisations that can help). If you can t speak to the companies or organisations you owe money to in person, then write or send an to them with an offer of repayment based on your budget. 3

4 Non-priority debts Non priority debts include credit cards, personal loans, catalogues, payday loans, bank and building society loans and overdrafts. If you have no money left to pay these bills, get advice from either Hyde Plus or any of the free agencies listed on page 13 of this booklet. If you are able to make a repayment arrangement, there are some standard letters you can use on the Citizens Advice Bureau website at uk or you can contact us. It is important you start making the payment you can afford straight away as this will show the company that you are doing all you can to repay the debt. is a legal document that contains details of the debt and any interest due. If you do not have this document you can contact the creditor for a copy under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 section This may cost 1 but has to be supplied within 12 working days. Always check your credit agreement first (it must be in your name); this 4

5 Budgeting A simple budget can help make sure you cover all essential outgoings and show how much you can afford to repay on debts. Spending a few minutes a week reviewing and planning your budget can make a real difference. Once you know what s coming in, what s going out and how much money you ve got left over it will make life a lot easier. Remember, you are not alone, our team is here to work with you to sort this out. Top tips Always set your budget by the frequency of your largest income source; if you get paid monthly make everything monthly and the same for weekly or four weekly payments. Try to add every kind of income you have including benefits, earnings and money from adults in the home or maintenance payments. If you don t know what your expenses are, look at your last month s bank statements and keep receipts for a week or month for all cash payments. This will help you to track where you spend your money. If you find that your income comes in at different times of the month to when your expenses go out, speak to the bill provider and ask if you can pay on a different date. If bills come out at different time of the month, ensure you have the full amount of the bills in your account at the beginning of the month. Paying bills by Direct Debit is the cheapest option so if you can, set up an account just for bills. The little savings you make each day or week can really add up. Switch services, you may also be able to save money by switching your phone, broadband, electricity or gas suppliers. Set up Direct Debits for your payments, so you don t get stung by late-payment charges. Make sure there is enough money in your account; otherwise you may be charged if you go overdrawn. If you have concerns about setting up a bank account or planning a budget, speak to our Hyde Plus team on , ,

6 Universal Credit The Government has introduced Universal Credit (UC), a new benefit that is being rolled out across the UK to replace certain benefits. The idea is to simplify the benefits system and make it easier for people to get into work. It is expected that if you are claiming ANY benefits that are included in UC, you will have moved on to the new system by Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits: Jobseeker s Allowance Housing Benefit Working Tax Credit Child Tax Credit Employment & Support Allowance Income Support So, what is it and how is it different from these benefits? New claims will have to be made online and there will be a period of one month and seven days before they are paid If you are already claiming benefits you will be told when you will move to UC, usually by letter UC will be one payment, paid once a month Payments are made into a bank or building society If you live with a partner and are both claiming UC you will receive a single payment to cover you both. Any help you get with your rent (such as Housing Benefit) will be included with your UC payment and then you will need to pay your landlord yourself. 6

7 Universal Credit What do you need to do to prepare? If you don t have a bank account, now is the time to set one up. UC is paid monthly. This will mean a larger amount paid to you at one time, which will have to last you longer. So make sure you have a monthly budget written out so you know you can cover all your outgoings. You will also be responsible for paying your own rent directly to your landlord. This is easily done by setting up a Direct Debit or standing order payment. If you want to know more about Universal Credit, visit for further information. If you have concerns about Universal Credit speak to our Hyde Plus team on or , or visit your local housing office. 7

8 Ways to increase your income Here are a few tips that may help you to increase your income: Can you raise a lump sum amount by selling something that you don t need or use? You can sell online or at local car-boot sales Do you have any savings or investments that you are able to access? Are you paying the correct Council Tax? Are you entitled to welfare benefits you haven t claimed? Check for free at Do you have insurance cover or any credit agreements that you can claim against? Read your credit agreements, if you can t find them speak to the company and ask for a copy. Review your household budget, make sure you are realistic and honest. List all incomings and outgoings. Are there expenses you could do without? Have you considered changing utility providers to reduce costs and get the best deal? Can you work extra hours or find a second job? Our Hyde Plus Employment Advisers can help you to look at these options - call or or for info. If you have grown up children or adults in your household are they paying enough towards the house keeping? Do not take the financial burden for the whole household, make sure everyone contributes. Can you take in a lodger? Speak to your housing officer for guidance. 8

9 Need to borrow money? Most of us need to borrow money at some point, whether it s a mortgage or a credit card. Make sure you find the cheapest way of borrowing and that you know how much you ll end up paying back. With all forms of loans you ll pay interest on what you borrow, and sometimes there may be other charges. These can vary greatly, so shop around. Some ways of borrowing are cheaper than others, speak to our team who can help advise you on your different options. Beware of:!!! Doorstep lenders (or home credit) These companies lend small amounts of money over short periods. A local agent calls at your home each week to collect their payments. They often charge very high rates of interest. If someone comes to your door make sure you ask to see their lender s licence from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). If they don t have one they are operating illegally, so don t use them. Payday loans Payday or paycheque loans are short-term loans, usually until your next payday. Watch out as they are one of the most expensive borrowing options. If you have no alternative to a payday loan, speak to us first. Illegal lenders (loan sharks) Loan sharks are unlicensed lenders. They operate illegally and their interest rates will be very high and you may find it difficult to keep up the repayments. They may use violence or intimidation to collect debts, or ask for security against the loan like a passport or jewellery. If you ve already taken out a loan with one or are being threatened contact our team for help and advice on or ; or call the confidential Loan Shark Hotline

10 Frequently Asked Money Advice Questions Rent Arrears If you have rent arrears or are concerned about this happening, the first thing you should do is speak to your Income Officer. They will be able to advise you on how to resolve your situation. You have a legal obligation to make rent payments. If you ignore your arrears, they will continue to increase and this will make it harder to sort out later. Our Money and Debt advice team can also help negotiate with the Income Officer on payment arrangements. Council Tax Arrears Check you are the person liable for the council tax bill and any arrears. If you are, then make sure the bill is correct. Does it account for any discounts or benefits you are entitled to? Don t ignore the letters, contact your council tax department to make an offer of repayment that you can afford or get in touch with our Money Advice team for help. I have no money If you have had a recent change to your income, speak to our Money Advice team. There may be emergency funds that you can access from your local authority. You can check your benefit entitlement at or phone Job Centre Plus on We can also help to explore other sources of support that you may be able to access, such as grants. I have no gas or electric If you have run out of credit or been cut off speak to your supplier to see if they can help. Do not agree to making payments that you can t afford. Talk to our Money Advice team, we can help you find the best deal and apply for emergency funds or grants.

11 I have no food Contact the Trussell Trust to find your nearest Food Bank or contact us and we can help to identify your local Food Bank. Phone or I need an item of furniture If you need an essential item of furniture you may want to approach a local furniture recycling depot. There are several that provide white goods and furniture of a high standard for a fraction of the cost. I need a loan but have a poor credit rating Have you tried a Credit Union? Credit unions are based in local areas and lend small amounts at affordable interest rates. They provide competitive rates on loans and savings and are supported and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Contact our Money Advice team for more information. My income has been taken in bank charges Firstly, check the charges are correct. If they are incorrect speak with your bank or contact us and we can support you to do this. If the charges are correct and this is becoming a regular occurrence, contact our team who can help you look at your finances as a whole and offer you appropriate advice. I have received court letters Make sure you read these letters and respond within time to requests for information. Not dealing with requests can make the situation worse. If you need help speak to our Money Advice team or get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Bailiffs are coming or have been to my home Firstly check to see if it is a Bailiff or a Debt Collector. A Bailiff will be appointed once a matter has been to court and a judgment has been ordered. You should be honest with the Bailiff about how much you can afford to repay on the debt. Make sure you can keep to this arrangement. Seek advice if you are unable to do this or need help. A Debt Collector will be sent to recover a debt and has no right to enter your home or make threats and harass you or your family and friends.

12 Golden rules for dealing with debt 1 Don't ignore the problem. It won't go away. The longer you leave it, the worse it will get Check you are claiming all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to. Always pay your priority debt first. If you are sent to court, fill in reply forms, this will help the judge decide how much you can afford. 6 7 Don't borrow money to pay off your debts without thinking carefully about how you will repay them. Get advice first. Get in touch with the people you owe money to (your creditors) straight away. Go and see them, phone them or write to them. 5 Always attend court hearings and take a copy of your budget with you. The County Court won t make you a criminal. There is no jury. You won t go to prison, but you could lose your home. 8 Make reasonable offers to your creditors. A reasonable amount every month will keep them happier than an offer you can't afford or maintain.

13 Helpful contacts National Debtline debtline.co.uk Payplan For tailored advice and some types of formal repayment plan Citizens Advice Bureau Online and face to face help, including factsheets and template letters. Business Debtline (England, Scotland and Wales) For tailored self-help advice and some types of formal repayment plan Action Fraud To report fraud and online crime Information Commissioner s Office Information on how to protect your personal information and how to gain access to official records. Step Change Debt Charity provides free advice at The Money Advice Service Independent and free advice org.uk Get in touch with Hyde Plus on: , , or visit the Hyde Group website facebook.com/hydegroup twitter.com/hydehousing 13

14 Financial statement Name: Address: Priority Debts Rent Mortgage Other secured loans Magistrates court fines Council tax Maintenance or child support Gas Electricity Other Non Priority Creditors Store card 1 Payday Loan 1 Payday Loan 2 Credit card 1 Credit card 2 Additional information 14

15 Monthly income Total salary/wages Total benefits Total pensions Total other income Total income Monthly outgoings Rent Ground rent & service charges Mortgage Other secured loans Mortgage Endowment and MPPI Building and contents insurance Pension and life insurance Council tax Gas Electricity TV Licence Magistrates court fines Maintenance or child support Hire purchase/conditional sale Childcare costs Other - Water Other - cable Other Landline and mobile phones Travel Housekeeping Total Outgoings Total income Minus Total outgoings Total available for creditors

16 Hyde Plus is Hyde s social and economic investment team. Our purpose is to enable residents to fulfil their potential and sustain their tenancies. We do this by providing support services, training and grants in areas that make the most difference to lives and futures money, jobs, technology and community. Get in touch with Hyde Plus , , facebook.com/hydegroup twitter.com/hydehousing Hyde Housing Association Limited is part of the Hyde Group, registered under the industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 No.18195R with exempt charitable status. Hyde New Homes, Hyde Plus, Hyde Northside Homes, and Hyde Minster are operating divisions of Hyde Housing Association Limited. The Registered Office of all the legal entities in the Hyde Group is 30 Park Street, London, SE1 9EQ. Consumer Credit Licence Get in touch with Hyde Plus Money advice team on , ,

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