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Citizens Advice Basingstoke: Dealing with Money Issues

Many people are struggling financially during the Covid-19 pandemic. At Citizens Advice Basingstoke we understand how difficult some people find it to deal with money issues and we are here to help.

Last year we helped 5,789 clients with their money issues, including problems with rent arrears, council tax and fuel bills, unsecured loans, credit/store charge card debts and benefit queries. We gave support to enable them to get their finances back into shape. We did this by helping them to take some or all the following actions: - Collecting information about their debts and working out the priority debts - Exploring ways they could increase their income - Investigating how they could reduce their regular living costs, and - Making a plan to pay off their debts. Here is an example of how we helped an individual with his money problems. Mr B came to us for help in claiming his state pension. Although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been helpful, communication with them was difficult as he struggled to read and write. His ex-partner had previously taken care of his finances, but their relationship had finished and he was now dealing with things himself. He had no money and had fallen into debt. He said he was behind with his energy bills and had also received a threatening letter from the housing association because of unpaid rent. He was extremely worried about his situation and needed support. We contacted DWP who confirmed that the pension claim was progressing satisfactorily. It took a few more months for the payments to begin, which then allowed him to pay off his priority debts. In the meantime, we called Mr B’s energy supplier who told us that his account was fully up to date (although he had no recollection of making payments). We looked into why Mr B had received a threatening letter from his housing association, by calling the Council to check that he was receiving the right amount of housing benefit and whether the payments were being paid directly to the housing association. The Council confirmed this was the case, but that there was a shortfall because Mr B’s former partner - who still lived with him - was regarded as a non-dependent and his benefit entitlement had been reduced accordingly. As a result, he now needed to pay arrears of £20 per week, totalling about £400. We saw Mr B over a number of weeks to help him resolve all his difficulties and gave him additional support until his pension payments began. When he came to see us for the last time he said that he finally felt that he was managing to sort out his finances; he was much happier and relieved to be worry-free for the first time in ages. He was very grateful for our help and said he could never have managed without us. Citizens Advice Basingstoke is a local independent charity and is here to help people resolve their problems by providing free, impartial and confidential advice. Call us on 0300 3309 064 Chat online: citizensadvice.org.uk/contact-us Website: www.basingstokeandtadleycab.org.uk Or search on the National Citizens advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk Nicola Dale