Financial help and advice
There are many things you can do to ensure you don’t fall into debt, including budgeting, contacting your creditors to see which options are available to you and applying for benefits which you’re entitled to.
If you’re concerned we recommend you look into all of the options available, to see what you’re eligible for and what suits your personal situation, such as:
You may also find that using a budget planner, such as this from the Money Advice Service, can help you to gain a better understanding of your current situation, and how to manage your outgoings to ensure your bills are still being paid.
If you find that your income still doesn’t meet your outgoings, then there are a number of ways that you can manage your bills such as:
- taking a mortgage payment holiday
- talking to your creditors if you think you’re going to miss payments
- checking your insurance policies to see what situations it covers
- contact your energy and water providers if you’re unable to pay to see if they have special measures in place to help
Do also take a look at these websites.
- Debt Test – Many people who fall into debt do not realise until it is too late. This debt test will help you understand how close you are to having a debt problem.
- GOV.UK insolvency section – There are options available to help with paying off debts. The GOV.UK website provides support options for those who are stuck with too much debt, as well as connecting you with a debt advisor.
- Help with budget planning – Learn how to best manage your budgets and save money throughout the year.
- If you’re over 60 and need help and advice, contact the local Age UK group. They can provide help with checking your finances and finding out what’s available to you.
We run an emergency assistance scheme where you can get financial support with clothes, goods, bills and food.
Under the Housing Grant and Assistance Policy we have discretionary assistance for occupiers over the age of 65, or those with chronic or severe health conditions (including children and younger adults) affected by poor housing conditions and provides:
- essential repairs to their home in order to remain safe and healthy
- a gas central heating system of suitable design and installation for a homeowner with vulnerable occupiers, where previously there has been no such system, or where the existing system, in the opinion of the contractor/surveyor, cannot be effectively repaired at reasonable cost or where it has been condemned by a suitable competent person
- assistance to owner occupiers where works are needed to make the dwelling wind and weatherproof or reduce a hazard.
This assistance is means tests and the maximum amount is £12,000.
Please talk to us first to get support as we can make sure you can access the right benefits for you.
You’ll find lots of information on our benefits pages.
Calculate what you might get
The GOV.UK website provides a free and anonymous benefits calculator to check what you could be entitled to.
You could be benefitting from cut-price broadband.
The Government is working with mobile phone and internet providers to offer social tariffs to people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits, to help them afford broadband or phone services.
The Energy Doctors scheme is a joint service between Havering Council and Age UK East London to help residents in tackling the cost of living.
The service will make it easier for Havering residents to save money on energy bills and get their homes ready for next winter, by offering professional advice on energy efficiency and making small changes and repairs to their homes.
The free service is open to all residents in the borough, though appointments will be prioritised for those most vulnerable to fuel poverty.
Expert Energy Doctors will visit residents’ homes to carry out assessments, which will identify areas where energy is being wasted and provide tailored advice on how to make savings.
The teams will also make small repairs where possible, including fitting draught excluders and radiator reflectors, along with swapping older light bulbs for energy efficient bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
They will also give advice on tackling issues with mould and condensation.
For more information, or to make a referral for yourself or someone else, please contact the Energy Doctors on 020 3011 1241 or send an email to email@example.com.
General energy advice
Your utilities provider will have their own help and support, just make sure you speak to them sooner rather than later.
- Go to our energy pages for advice on reducing your bills
- Switching tariffs
- Ofgem advice
- Bill helper - How to prioritise and speak to utilities companies.
- The Seasonal Health Intervention Network (SHINE) is a fuel poverty referral network and free energy advice service. They offer an Energy Doctor service that can check your home.
- Check if it is only your property served by your water pipe. If so a meter might be cheaper. Dig out your bill, then contact your supplier or check by using the Water Meter Calculator.
Damp and mould
If you pay Council Tax, and you cannot afford to make payments due to coronavirus please contact us immediately to discuss. We can help.
You can also call 01708 433997.
For working age tax payers, Council Tax Support may reduce your bill by up to 80 percent.
If you think it’s unlikely you will be eligible for Council Tax Support, please contact us anyway as we can still help you.
We are also accepting applications for longer-term payment plans to help our residents.
You can also call 01708 433996.
Council tax discretionary hardship payments will be available for residents made economically vulnerable residents by coronavirus.
Council Tax Support Fund 2023 to 2024
The government has given more funding to local authorities for 2023 to 2024 to support economically vulnerable households with their council tax bills.
In Havering, this funding has been used to reduce council tax bills for working and pension age Council Tax Support (CTS) claimants by a one-off non-refundable credit up to a maximum of £25.
If you are in receipt of CTS on 1 April 2023, there is no need for you to do anything as the non-refundable credit has automatically been applied to your March 2023 Council tax bill.
Any household making a successful CTS claim for the first time during 2023-24 may also receive a non-refundable credit of up to £25 automatically to their council tax account.
More information can be found on GOV.UK - Council Tax Support Fund guidance.
To be eligible for the credit of up to £25, there must be a council tax charge of up to £25 remaining on the council tax account of the CTS claimant.
This credit can only be used against the council tax account and cannot be refunded to the CTS claimant.
£100 for pensioner residents receiving Council Tax Support
In early 2023 the Government announced further funding through the Household Support grant to help low income pensioners with the increased cost of living.
If you are a resident of pension age receiving Council Tax Support on 22 May 2023, you may be entitled to a one off payment of £100 to assist you with the increased cost of living.
There is no need to apply for this. If you are eligible you will be contacted directly by letter or email.
The £100 payment will be credited to your Council Tax account and you can ask for a refund from that account to your bank account.
To get the £100 refunded, please complete the request a refund form on the refunds page to tell us that you would like the refund to be paid into your bank account and please mention the £100 in your refund request.
In and between term school meal support for children
See what between term time meal support you can get if you are eligible.
Apply for free school meals for Reception, Year 1 and 2. To prepare a packed lunch that is equivalent to a nutritious school meal, and has the variety of a different meal a day, will cost on average £2.25 per day.
Family Services Hub
Holiday Activity and Food Programme
The Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) is a funded initiative that provides fun activity and food provision for children aged 4-16 who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals during the Easter, Summer and Christmas Holidays.
Open a Tax Free Childcare account
Don't forget to open a Tax-Free Childcare account today to save up to £2,000 per child on your yearly childcare bills.
You can use your Tax-Free Childcare account to pay for any approved childcare including holiday clubs, breakfast and after school clubs, child minders and nurseries.
The scheme, from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), provides working families up to £2,000 a year per child for children up to the age of 11.
Children that have a disability are eligible for £4,000 a year, up to the age of 16.
For every £8 paid into a Tax-Free Childcare account, the government will automatically top up £2.
You can save up to £500 every three months for each child, or £1,000 if your child is disabled.
Child Trust Fund
Nearly a million accounts have not been accessed!
A Child Trust Fund is a long-term tax-free savings account for children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011.
Any child born between 2002 and 2011 was eligible to receive at least £250 in a savings pot, which they could access as soon as they turned 18.
Find a Child Trust Fund as a parent or if you are over 16.
- List of food banks and emergency assistance in and around Havering
- Harold Hill Community Food Shop
- The Trolley website best price finder compares grocery prices from over 15 supermarkets to help you find the best deals.
- Free school meals for Reception, Year 1 and 2. To prepare a packed lunch that is equivalent to a nutritious school meal, and has the variety of a different meal a day, will cost on average £2.25 per day.
- Holiday Activity and Food Programme
- Healthy Start Scheme - You may qualify for milk, fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, infant formula milk, and fresh, dried, and tinned pulses.
- Warm Coats Initative - Free coats can be picked up from our libraries until 31 March 2023.
- Go to our mental health and wellbeing page to find information and help.
If you’re a council tenant and you don’t think you’re going to be able to pay your rent, you can claim Universal Credit straight away.
Please make sure you contact us so that we can provide help and advice to prevent debt which may become unmanageable in the future.
The same advice applies for private tenants. Please make a Universal Credit claim.
If you’re unable to afford your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible.
The Royal British Legion (RBL) has launched its new Everyday Needs Grants Programme, aimed at members of the Armed Forces community who are struggling with the rising cost of living.
The grant provides a quick and easy way to help members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families with everyday essentials such as kitchen appliances, clothes, and energy costs.
This programme is open to anyone who is eligible for support and struggling to pay for items and services they need.
You can check eligibility and apply online through the Royal British Legion website cost of living page.
They aim to assess your application within five days of submission.
Eligible applicants will receive a grant of up to £2,400 over 12 months.
- Havering Council’s money and debt advice
- The Money Advice Service – Coronavirus and your money
- StepChange – Debt and Coronavirus
- Citizens Advice Havering
- Anglian Water help scheme
If you’re still struggling to find support, you can contact us directly. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Cost of Living helpline on 01708 432280.
Please note, these lines may be busy, so make sure you have checked this page for information before calling.
If you know of any elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives that need support, but are unable to access the internet, please share the helpline number with them.