Financial advice: how to quickly access financial assistance
Download The Big Exchange app today
Make your money grow and download the free app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
When life gets tough, people can often borrow hundreds of pounds as a short-term solution from so-called rent-to-own lenders – but they often have high interest rates. and are difficult to repay, pushing people into long-term debt.
“We give grants to stop that trip of debt early and stop a financial crisis before it turns into a long-term problem,” says Evans.
This Big Issue article has additional expert advice on why now is a good time to take control of our finances.
The past two years of the pandemic have proven to everyone that life can change suddenly and unexpectedly.
Now Turn2us is focused on helping during the unprecedented cost of living crisis.
The charity explained: “We must not underestimate the scale of the crisis we face, especially as the next 12 months will see thousands of people facing impossible choices between keep a roof over their heads or feed their children to survive.
Some people cut back on food or eat less to pay for heating. Others are in arrears or using credit to pay for essential goods, which compounds the problem.
Many find that increases in wages and benefits do not keep up with these price increases.
But there are ways to lessen the impact of this crisis on your finances.
What to do if you need financial advice and help quickly and easily
Check what benefits you are entitled to
“There can be an uphill battle with benefits due to the discourse of shame and stigma in the UK that we really need to tackle,” says Evans. “It’s really important to encourage people to claim the benefits they are entitled to.”
According to Turn2us, people deemed eligible through its benefits calculator receive, on average, an additional £5,000 a year. To check which benefits you are entitled to, use a free benefit calculator. There are several available if you search online, including via Stage change, right to Where Policy in practice.
Financial specialists IncomeMax also have a free confidential service to help you maximize your income as part of its Bounce Back campaign, which aims to help people recover from financial uncertainty. Read all about it in this Big Issue article: You might be eligible for free money – here’s how.
Financial advice: budget
Maximizing your income and reducing your expenses is an integral part of budgeting, which debt charity StepChange says is the first step to taking control of your finances. It helps you understand what is coming and going and what might change. The charity has a budgeting guide on its website, which includes calculating your total income, listing everything you spend, and then deducting what you spend from your income.
You can also read this Big Issue guide at budgeting and how to avoid debt.
Maximize your income
The next step is to check which grants you are eligible for. Turn2us has a search for grants and there are other charities that may have grant programs to help you.
In order to receive grants, you will need to claim any benefits to which you are already entitled and provide bank statements to show if you have any savings.
“Revenue maximization is crucial,” says Evans. “It could also include whether you can work more hours or whether you can change jobs.”
Financial advice: cut expenses
“It’s the opposite of revenue maximization,” says Evans. This is where you look at all your expenses and try to cut costs.
“See if you can change your energy bills or cancel your Netflix subscription, that sort of thing,” he adds.
Money Tips: Find help, information and help
In addition to a benefits calculator and grant finder, Turn2us offers a helpline and numerous resources on its website. If you need quick financial advice or other support, charities such as Citizens Advice, Trussell Trust or Shelter may be able to help.
StepChange has a emergency funding pagewhich offers information on what to do if you need emergency assistance in the form of money and food.
“There are so many amazing charities out there offering tailored information and advice,” says Evans. “It’s really important that you use the resources there for you because that’s what we’re here for.”
Caroline Siarkiewicz, CEO of Money and Pensions Service, says: “Whether your income is down and you’re worried about paying your bills, or you’ve lost your job or are facing redundancy, or you’re facing the financial impact of a divorce or bereavement, MoneyHelper is here to help. Our government-backed service offers free, unbiased support over the phone and online to help you get back on track.
Siarkiewicz recommends the silver browser tool on the MoneyHelper website as a good starting point. The free tool will help you figure out which issues you need to fix first, how to stay on top of your bills, and where to find any additional help you might be entitled to, depending on your current situation. According to the Money and Pensions Service, three out of five people who received debt advice reduced or settled their debts within three to six months and three-quarters of people who received debt advice debt feel more in control after getting help.
“The sooner you can tackle your money worries, the sooner you can feel empowered to manage your money and your future with confidence,” adds Siarkiewicz.
MoneyHelper, a government-backed service, offers free, impartial advice over the phone (0800 138 7777) or on line.
What to do if you go into debt
If you start to fall behind on essential bills such as rent or council tax, it could be a sign that you have debt problems and need specialist advice, according to StepChange.
The association offers free and impartial advice by telephone (0800 138 1111) or on line.
“Dealing with financial issues can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone,” says Andy Shaw, Head of Debt Counseling Policy at StepChange. “If you’re struggling to manage your finances because of debt, there are a number of completely free charities, including StepChange, who can help you assess your situation and find the best way forward. .”
You can read The Big Issue’s guide to avoiding debt here.
Turn2us is one of six finalists in Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Challenge.
Get career tips and advice in our Jobs & Training series: