Universal Credit and Financial Management Skills
Universal Credit will be paid monthly directly to a nominated bank account within a household.
This has led to concerns over the ability of Universal Credit claimants to manage their finances. Housing associations used to being paid directly by the DWP are concerned that some tenants will fail to prioritise their rent. Changes to entitlement, housing benefit, tax credit and council tax support combined with a weak economy make it increasingly likely that low income household may fall into debt.
This simple and clear guide offers advice to people struggling to pay their bills. I hope it is helpful. Comments are welcome.
Debt Resolution Advice
You are in financial difficulty if:
- You are continually in your overdraft
- You can never pay off all of your credit cards at the end of you month
- You continually need to use pay day loans to survive each month
- You continually incur penalty charges or go overdrawn
- You have demands for payments which can’t be met
- You owe money to loan sharks
- You can’t afford to buy food and have to go hungry
- You cannot pay off all your unsecured debts within 10 months
And you are likely to be in the following circumstances:
- You or your partner are at risk or about to lose your job
- You are self-employed and struggling to find work
- You have lost your job
- You are on an interest only mortgage
- You can barely afford to pay your bills
- Your over exposed to Greece, Spain or Portugal
Here is what you need to do:
Time is of the essence!
- Unpaid debt incurs charges or interest and will grow daily, as will your stress.
Gather all you bank/credit card statements, bills, payment demands, wage slips, benefit letters and anything else financial together.
- Keep them in a safe place, in a well organised folder.
Work out your monthly or weekly expenditure and see how much is left over, write this down.
Contact creditors that you pay with Direct Debits to
- Explain your situation and see if there are alternative ways to pay.
- You could also change the payment date to make sure there is money your account.
- Direct Debit can often be unpredictable and incur charges if they fail.
- Don’t cancel them without permission.
Contact mobile, energy companies, sky etc.
- See if the can switch you to a lower tariff or have an assistance scheme for those in financial difficulty.
Start to seek independent third party financial advice.
But contact the creditors you owe money to.
- See if they can stop collection activity while you see help or cancel any fees and charges.
- Get up to date balances.
You don’t need to pay for financial advice, and any extra money can be used pay your debts off faster.
Recommended organisations for debt and legal advice are:
- The CCCS: 0800 138 1111 www.cccs.co.uk
- National debt line: 0808 808 4000 www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
- Business Debtline: 0800 197 602 www.bdl.org.uk
- Your local Citizens Advice Bureaux: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- Your local Law Works Clinic: www.lawworks.org.uk
- Christians Against Poverty: 01274 760720 www.capuk.org
Additional things to do are:
- Speak to friends and family to see if they can provide financial assistance.
> They won’t charge fees or interest and can be flexible with loans.
- Speak to your employer, union or professional body.
> They often have advice schemes or interest free loan schemes.
> At work, a professional and well organised discussion could get you a pay rise or sympathy if your job is a risk.
> It is often a requirement of your contract or profession that you advise of financial difficulty.
> Making them aware now will reduce the problems you could face later on.
- Sell unwanted items.
> Ebay and Gumtree have lots of customers who want to buy your unwanted items.
> They offer and give extra advice on security.
> The average house hold could raise £2500.00 by doing this.
> You will raise more money than the bailiff and save having to pay their fees.
- Ignorance is bliss but expensive.
> Don’t bury your head in the sand, time is money.
- Get active.
- Know what you owe.
- Organise your finances
- Contact your creditors and explain your situation.
- Get an up to date balance.
- Seek independent FREE financial advice
- Stay calm when dealing with creditors
- Manners will save time and get a more sympathetic response
- Don’t blame others, take possession of your situation
I hope this post has been helpful – now get active and get in control!
Comments and feedback on this post are welcome.