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Coronavirus: Updates and advice

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Money management

Help is available

This might be the first time you, a friend or family member, have experienced financial difficulties or you're feeling stressed or worried right now. You might feel unsure who to turn to, or just need some advice about which bill to pay, or what to do next.

Talk to someone now: Whether it's paying the rent, or mortgage, keeping up with bill payments, redundancy, free school meals, benefits, mental health or relationship support, speak to someone now.

We want you to know you're not alone, there is a range of help and support available. Specialist advisers can help you with immediate problems and help plan for the longer term.

Telephone Dorset Citizens Advice, and often a chat with a specialist adviser is enough to set you in the right direction, help you with immediate problems and help you plan for the longer term.

Telephone Citizens Advice line 0344 411 1444. All advice is free, confidential and impartial. Calls cost the same as calls to landline numbers.  

Managing your money (budgeting)

It's important to keep a track of your finances so that you don't spend more than you can afford.

If you want to keep on top of your finances, a budget is a really good way to start. This is just a record of the money you have coming in (from things like your salary or wages, pensions or benefits) and payments that you make (such as your rent or mortgage, insurance and Council Tax, as well as living expenses and other regular spending).

Creating a budget allows you to work out if you have enough money to do the things you need to do or would like to do. Many people spend more than they realise.

If you don't have enough money to do everything you would like to, think about using your budget to help you decide what is most important to you.

The Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice have useful tips to help you manage your money, including a tool to help you set up your budget.

Saving money on your energy bills will help you to reduce your outgoings.

Future planning

We have information on financial care planning.

Debt advice

If you have debts and find that you are not able to make your repayments, or if you're facing the threat of court action, you should get help quickly. Don't ignore the debt, it won't just go away. It's very important that you seek advice as soon as possible. You can get free independent advice.

Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service provide a range of information and advice.

Our service provider directory lists a number of organisations who provide advice and support.

Bills

If you're unable to pay your gas, electricity or water bills, many of the companies offer schemes to help you; contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.

Citizens Advice across Dorset is able to help households experiencing financial difficulties with energy costs. They can help with:

  1. Topping up pre-payment meters
  2. Eligibility for extra income
  3. Advice if struggling with energy bills
  4. Resolving issues with energy suppliers

If you need help or advice, contact by email energyadvice@cabnet.org.uk or telephone 0344 411 1444.

Energy advice:

Ofgem: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your energy supply

Citizens Advice: Problems getting to or topping up your prepayment meter

Centre for sustainable energy provides a list of what some suppliers are doing.

Financial help

'Friends of the Elderly’ charity provides small grants to older people living in England and Wales who are living on low incomes. They have three grant schemes; digital connection, home essentials, and financial support. For more information see their website or telephone 0330 332 1110 or email hello@fote.org.uk

Benefits

You may be entitled to benefits if you are on a low income.

Food banks

If you do not have enough money for food you can ask to be referred to a food bank by a social worker, health visitor, church leader, Dorset Fire and Rescue Community Support Officer, your housing association or an adviser from Citizens Advice. They will assess you and if you meet the criteria, issue you with a voucher and advise you of your nearest food bank.

Find your nearest food bank

Borrowing money

Before you borrow money think about whether you really need to, or if you can pay for what you need in another way. You may want to think about saving up for your purchase. If you do need to borrow money, the first thing you should do is check you can afford the payments. Take a look at our information above on budgeting.

Before you borrow money carefully consider the choices that are available, the interest you will be charged and any fees you may have to pay. There are many ways to borrow money; from your bank, a credit union or other loan companies.

Payday loans

Payday loans are high cost short-term loans to tide people over until payday. Typically you have until your next payday to pay back your loan plus interest. Only take out a payday loan if you are really sure you can repay it on time. If you're already in financial difficulty a payday loan is unlikely to help you in the long run.

Make sure that you only borrow money from an approved lender. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all licensed lenders, as well as everyone who has applied for a licence or has had one taken away or suspended. If a lender isn't listed as having a current licence, don't borrow money from them and don't let them come into your home.

Check the FCA register to see if a lender is licensed.

Loan sharks

Loan sharks are illegal lenders who often target low income and desperate families. They may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea - even if your credit rating is poor or you only need a small amount for a short while.

If you have been approached by someone who you think is a loan shark, you can report them anonymously.

Contact the police if you are in immediate danger.

Advice and support

Our service provider directory lists a number of organisations who provide advice and support in Dorset.