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workingmums.co.uk has advice on where you can go for help if, like many, you are struggling to pay the bills.
Debt is a huge issue for parents today, with our annual survey showing many have thousands of pounds to pay back and are using everything from scheduled payments to credit cards just to make it through the weeks.
So, as summer comes to an end, we look at what you can do to bring down that debt. The most important thing to do is to seek help as soon as you can. There is lots of free help around.
The Money Helper website has a free budget planner tool, various guides to managing your money in particular circumstances, for instance, if you are worried about the impact of interest rate rises on your mortgage, are self employed, have lost your job or are struggling to pay bills. There is also advice on what to think about when it comes to reducing or pausing pension payments. Another useful tool is the Bill Prioritiser Tool. Money Helper also has a free helpline or webchat and information on where you can go for good, free debt advice.
Money Saving Expert has similar help with budget planning and advice on particular issues, such as energy-saving tips. Most utilities companies have schemes to help people who can’t pay their bills so, if you are struggling, it is a good idea to contact them as soon as you can. In addition, Citizen’s Advice has an online calculator which shows which appliances use the most energy. Citizen’s Advice also has information on help with phone, internet or TV bills.
If you are finding it hard to pay for food, Turn2us.org.uk has a list of food banks and information on cooking on a budget.
Another source of help is StepChange, a national debt charity and provides free debt advice, covering everything from understanding debt problems and debt solutions to debt consolidation.
You should also check your benefits entitlement. Turn2us.org.uk has an easy-to-use online benefits calculator which can tell you what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to. There may be help that you are not aware of from childcare support to help with school meals, school travel and uniform. It’s also worth contacting your school or council when it comes to school uniform. One-off payments like the Sure Start Maternity Grant are available if you are pregnant and on a low income. It doesn’t, however, apply in Scotland. More information is available here. The Healthy Start scheme can also help with food for under fours, if you are on benefits, including Universal Credit, and on a low income. If you or your child have a disability, including a serious mental health issue, Turn2us.org.uk has information on your entitlements here. If you are a carer, information on entitlements ca be found here.
Some charities also have a range of help available with eligibility depending on your background, circumstances and needs. You can find out more here. Local authorities may also be able to help so contact them to find out how they can help if you are struggling to pay your bills.