Southway has a specialist Advice Team that can offer support on everything relating to you and your money.
From tips on bills, banking and budgeting, to joining our Quids in Food Club and accessing local Food Banks, we have services that can help.
You'll find lots of useful resources below that may help you get much better off!
Debt & Rent Arrears
Don't hide your debt problems - help is available, however large your debts are.
Southway employs a specialist Debt Advisor who will work with you towards becoming debt free whether you owe utility companies, have loans or owe rent. The service is confidential so no one else will know about your problems.
Our Debt Advisor can even negotiate with those you owe. This could include:
Rent arrears Catalogues Council Tax Court fines Utilities Hire purchase Water rates Doorstep lenders Bank debts Credit cards
They can help you to get repayments reduced to affordable levels so that the debt causes less hardship, and they may be able to get interest charges suspended.
To book an appointment with our Debt Advisor contact the Advice Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help with bills and one off costs
Budgeting loans and budgeting advances
These are interest free loans from the DWP to help you pay for essentials such as furniture, clothing, removal expenses, expenses to help you start or prepare for work. If you have already bought the item on hire purchase or credit you can ask for a budgeting loan to repay this.
Budgeting LoanYou can apply for a budgeting loan if you are currently getting and have been receiving Income Support or Income Based JSA or Income Related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit for at least 26 weeks. You will normally have to repay the loan from future benefits over a period of 104 weeks.
To apply, get form SF500 from your local Jobcentre Plus or click here.It is important to explain your circumstances and why you need it.
Budgeting AdvanceYou can apply for a budgeting advance if you are currently getting Universal Credit and have been receiving Universal Credit for 6 months – although time claiming Income Support or Income Based JSA or Income Related Employment and Support Allowance will count towards the 6 months*. You also have to have earned in total less than £2600 (single claimants) or £3600 (couples) in this 6 month period, and be able to show you can afford to repay it. You normally have to repay the loan, out of your Universal Credit, over 12 months.
*It can be less than this if the loan is needed for a necessary item for employment.
To apply, ring the Universal Credit helpline number 0345 6000723.
Gas and Electricity
Gas and electricity prices keep rising and now present a large chunk of the household budget but there are ways to minimise this expense.Check to see:
- If changing supplier would reduce your bills. Click here (uswitch) or click here (moneysavingexpert) for advice.
- If changing the way you pay your bill could help; Contact your gas / electricity supplier.
- If you are in gas and /or electricity arrears see if your supplier has a charitable trust that could help.
- If you qualify for the £140 Warm Home Discount for the months between October and March. Click here.
- If you or your partner qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment. Click here.
There are several different schemes available to help people with the cost of their water bills and any arrears. Whether you can reduce your water bill will depend on whether you have a water meter or pay water rate, and may depend on your income.If you pay your water by way of a water meter you should:
If you pay water rates you should:
- Check to see if you qualify for the WaterSure scheme. Click here: or contact your water supplier.
- If you are a low water user, check to see if your supplier has any special tariffs that you could qualify for.
- Ensure you are using all the water savings products that are available for free. Ask us for more information.
If you are in arrears with you water bill you should:
- Check to see if it would be cheaper for you to have a water meter fitted – but you need to speak to us first.
The WaterSure Scheme
- See if your supplier has a restart scheme or similar.
If you or someone in your household receives certain benefits or tax credits and you live in a property with a water meter, there are government regulations to protect you.To qualify for WaterSure you must have either:
If this applies to you, you do not have to pay more than the average bill for domestic customers on a water meter and could save money. Check on this website for the average in your area: http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/households/customer-assistance/watersure/.
- At least three or more children up to 19 years old in full time education who live with you, and for whom you claim Child Benefit, or
- Someone in your household who has a medical condition which means they use a lot of water.
- Budgeting loans and budgeting advances
Quids in Food Club and Food Banks
About Food Banks
If you find that you and/or your family cannot afford to eat, perhaps because your benefits have been sanctioned or delayed, you can ask us about getting help from a local food bank. Or you may be able to be referred by a doctor, health visitor, social worker, or advice agency.Many food banks are run by the Trussell Trust – you can check on-line where your nearest food bank can be found (http://www.trusselltrust.org/map), or phone them on tel: 01722 580 180.
If you're struggling to make ends meet the Advice Services Team can help. We can assist you with budgeting and can find ways of reducing your household spending or lowering your bills.
We are also running some practical courses that can explore ways of managing on less money.‘Smart With Money’ budgeting sessions
These sessions are primarily aimed at new tenants under 35yrs and those who have never had a tenancy before, but are open to anyone who needs help with money management.
The sessions run in the Boardroom at Aspen House or at community venues every 6 weeks 10am - 4pm starting Thursday 18th May. Lunch and refreshments are provided.Anyone needing budgeting support should contact Elaine Wilkinson, by emailing their details to us - contact us here.
If you need to borrow money, you should consider how much interest you are paying how you are going to manage the repayments.
Being able to borrow at low interest requires a good Credit Score. Paying bills late, not being in work and not being on the Electoral Register will all negatively affect your score making it hard to get cheap credit.
Borrowing at higher interest can very quickly lead to unmanageable debt problems. Doorstep lenders and Pay Day loan companies should particularly be avoided. If you need to borrow but are struggling to get credit it is worth checking your local credit union first.
Credit unions are local financial cooperatives offering savings and loans to their members who are those living or working in a particular area. They usually like you to save before borrowing so you can show ability to afford repayments. They do offer loans without saving but may expect you to have Child Benefit paid in to your account so they can take out the repayments. The annual interest rate on non saver loans is 26.8%, well below that of doorstep lenders which can be 399%.
For South Manchester Credit union phone - 0161 448 0200 or visit www.smcreditunion.co.uk
Or visit their shop at:
187 Fog Lane, Burnage
You will need a bank account to claim your benefits once you switch over to Universal Credit.
If you have concerns about bank charges or worry about overdrawing there are many Basic Bank Accounts that are free and don’t allow you to overdraw. They still allow you to set up Direct Debits to pay your rent and bills.
With Housing Benefit ending the allowance for housing costs will be included in your Universal Credit so you will be responsible for paying your rent. Setting up a Direct Debit to pay the rent means you don’t have to worry about forgetting and if you arrange for payments to come out just after your money comes in then you know there will be funds to cover it. Paying other bills this way can also earn you ‘prompt payment’ discounts.
How can Southway Help?
Staff from the Advice Services Team can advise you on using bank accounts and help find an account that suits your needs.
We can help you set up an account, ensure you have Identity documents (ID) that are acceptable to the banks and can make an appointment with the bank for you to open your account.
We can also assist in setting up Direct Debits to pay your rent and bills.
Contact us and let us know you would like assistance.
‘Rent Direct' account
Manchester Credit Union has created an account specially to help tenants cope with the move to Universal Credit and having responsibility for rent payment. It helps you budget by transferring the rent payment to Southway when your benefit is paid. Unlike Direct Debits you are not charged If your benefit stops and there are no funds available to pay the rent. Opening this account would also give you access to other benefits attached to credit union membership such as low interest loans.
Speak to the Advice Services Team or contact Manchester Credit Union On 0161 231 5222
While many people often hope that nothing will happen to their belongings, sometimes things can go wrong unexpectedly.
Southway can help tenants and residents obtain home contents insurance easily and at a price that is affordable.
With a special scheme, arranged in conjunction with Manchester City Council, Southway tenants and residents can enjoy having their belongings protected and gain peace of mind knowing they have cover if the unexpected happens.
- Other Useful Links
Southway Solutions Loan
Southway Solutions is a new borrowing option just for tenants. If eligible, you can borrow up to £300.
Southway Solutions has:
• A speedy and simple application process
• Affordable and flexible repayment plans
• A competitive interest rate
To apply simply contact us.