Financial advice: How to quickly access financial support

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Did an unforeseen event in life affect your income? Here’s how to get financial advice and help quickly and easily

The death of a partner, the loss of a job or the diagnosis of an illness are all unexpected events in life that can upset us.

These events change our lives forever. They can also have a pretty sudden impact on our financial situation, maybe when we’re at a rock bottom.

Between four and six million people each year experience a life event that pushes them into poverty, according to the charity Turn2us. However, financial advice and help is available for those in need to prevent a crisis related to a life event “evolving into persistent poverty,” says Liam Evans, head of public relations and external affairs of Turn2us.

“Our role is to encourage people to take action as soon as possible,” Evans told The Big Issue. “We often find that something very small can be a trigger. Maybe one of these life events has happened and then your dishwasher breaks down, your washing machine breaks, or your fridge freezer breaks.

Under these circumstances, people can often borrow hundreds of pounds as a short-term solution from so-called option-to-buy lenders. However, they often have high interest rates and are difficult to repay, causing people to take on long-term debt.

“We’re giving grants to stop this early debt journey and stop a financial crisis before it turns into a long-term problem,” says Evans.

This Big Issue article contains more expert advice on why now is the right time to take control of our finances.

The last 18 months of the pandemic have proven to everyone that life can change suddenly and unexpectedly. Millions of people have been affected by job losses and time off, have been sick with Covid-19 and lost loved ones to the virus.

During the first week of foreclosure in 2020, Turn2us saw demand on its services increase by up to five times more than usual. In 2020, nearly nine million people used its website to access financial support and it awarded emergency coronavirus grants of £ 500 totaling over £ 1.5million.

As we near the end of the leave program, the end of the increase in universal credit and the increase in energy bills from the beginning of October, Turn2us expects higher demand for its services. .

“Our concern is that all of these diets end at the same time,” says Evans. “We would like universal credit never to be cut. We would like this increase to be permanent and extended to legacy benefits. It could be a very dangerous time at the edge of the cliff for millions of people. “

What to do if you need financial advice and help quickly and easily

Check the benefits to which you are entitled

“There can be an uphill battle with benefits because of the shame and stigma rhetoric in the UK that we really need to tackle,” says Evans. “It is really important to encourage people to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.

According to Turn2us, those deemed eligible through its benefits calculator receive on average an additional £ 5,000 per year. To check the benefits to which you are entitled, use a free benefit calculator. There are several available if you search online, including through Stage change, right to Where Policy in practice.

Financial specialists Max Income also have a free confidential service to help you maximize your income as part of their Bounce Back campaign, which aims to help people recover from financial uncertainty. Read all about it in this Big Issue article: You might qualify for free money – here’s how.

Money advice: Budget

Maximizing your income and reducing your expenses are all part of budgeting, which StepChange says is the first step in taking control of your finances. It helps you understand what’s 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 getting into 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 might have grant programs to help you.

In order to receive grants, you will need to apply for all the benefits you are already entitled to and provide bank statements to show if you have any savings.

“Maximizing income is crucial,” says Evans. “It could also include determining if you can work more hours or finding out if you can change jobs. “

Money advice: reduce your expenses

“It’s the opposite of maximizing income,” says Evans. This is where you look at all of your spending and try to cut costs.

“See if you can change your energy bill or cancel your Netflix subscription, that sort of thing,” he adds.

Money advice: Find support, information and help

In addition to a benefit calculator and grant search, Turn2us has a helpline and many 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 fundraising page, which offers information on what to do if you need emergency assistance with cash and food. According to the association, it is the most popular page on its website, with more than 14,000 visitors in July 2021.

“There are so many amazing charities out there that offer tailored information and advice,” says Evans. “It’s really important that you use the resources there for yourself because that’s what we’re here for. “

Caroline Siarkiewicz, CEO of Money and Pensions Service, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a widespread impact on people’s finances. Many people have needed help for the first time and it can be difficult to know where to go for help. Whether your income is declining and you are worried about paying your bills, whether you have lost your job or are facing a layoff, or you are facing the financial impact of divorce or bereavement, MoneyHelper is here to help. Our government-backed service provides free, unbiased phone and online support to help get you back on track.

Siarkiewicz recommends the Money Navigator tool on the MoneyHelper website as a good place to start. The free tool will help you figure out which issues you need to fix first, how to get on top of your bills, and where to find any additional help you’re entitled to, based on your current situation. According to the Money and Pensions Service, three in five people who have received advice on their debts have either reduced or written off their debts in three to six months and three-quarters of people who have received advice feel more in control after having got 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, unbiased advice over the phone (0800 138 7777) or online.

What to do if you get into debt

If you start falling behind on essential bills like rent or council tax, it could be a sign that you have a debt problem and need specialist advice, according to StepChange.

The association offers free and impartial advice by telephone (0800 138 1111) or in line.

“Dealing with financial issues can be intimidating, but you don’t have to do it alone,” says Andy Shaw, Debt Advice Manager at StepChange. “If you’re struggling to manage your finances because of debt, there are a number of completely free charities, including StepChange, that can help you assess your situation and find the best way forward. . “

You can read The Big Issue’s guide to avoid getting into debt here.

Turn2us is one of six finalists in Nesta’s Quick Recovery Challenge.

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