Finding independent debt advice and financial support

If you’re finding your bills hard to manage, or you think you may struggle to manage your finances in the future, the most important thing to remember is that help is available.

There is separate advice if you are struggling to pay your energy bills with Bulb.

Whether you prefer to work through the numbers on your own or talk to someone online or over the phone, we’ve included links to tools and trusted organisations that can help.


If you’re not sure about the type of support you need

A good place to start is with StepChange, a charity that helps thousands of people overcome debt every week. Try their:

  • 60-second debt test - answer a few simple questions to find out if you need debt advice, and what your next steps could be
  • Debt Remedy tool - answer questions about your financial situation to understand what to do next, where to get further support and guidance and how to start to take control of your money
  • Guide to the Breathing Space Scheme - this is a guide to the government scheme which could help relieve some of the pressure and stress caused by being in debt

Online tools, calculators and guides

Personal debt calculator

The Debt Advice Foundation provides an easy to use personal debt analyser. Once you’ve filled in the numbers, it will calculate:

  • how much money you have available each month to repay your debts
  • how long it will take you to pay back your unsecured debts in full
  • how to negotiate to reduce your repayments – it will write the letters you need to send to the organisations you owe money to

Before you use the debt analyser, it’s a good idea to have a recent bank statement to hand. You may need it to check what money you have coming in and going out each month.

Check if you can increase your income or lower your living costs

These simple guides from Citizens Advice look at ways you can increase the money you have coming in and decrease your expenses each month:


Get an action plan if your income has been affected by coronavirus

Money Helper is an independent service offering free financial advice. If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you’re worried about your future finances, their Money Navigator Tool will give you an action plan based on your situation.

If you’re getting Universal Credit or think you might be using it in the future

If you’re making a new claim for Universal Credit, Money Manager for Universal Credit claimants will support you through the process. It also offers budgeting help and advice if you’re already getting Universal Credit.

 

Financial benefits and support

There are many reasons why you may qualify for financial support. Turn2Us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. Use their online benefits calculator or grants search tool to find out what support you may be eligible for.

The following list outlines the financial benefits available to help pay towards your energy bills or household costs.


Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is a one-off payment of £140 towards your energy costs during the colder months. If you’re with Bulb and you receive certain benefits, there are 2 ways you can qualify for the payment:

If you’re not with Bulb, these are the other suppliers that offer the Warm Home Discount

Payments in cold weather

During the colder months, there are two payments you may receive automatically if you're eligible. These are:

  • Winter Fuel Payments - if you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.
  • Cold Weather Payments - if you're receiving certain benefits, you’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

The Household Support Fund

The Household Support Fund is a one-off grant towards food, gas and electricity and other essentials. It's available to eligible households through your local council, and eligibility varies by council. When you apply, you will be asked for your National Insurance number, and details of your expenses and earnings. FInd your local council.

 

Tax relief if you work from home

If you have to work at home on a regular basis, (for example, because of coronavirus) you may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs. These costs include gas and electricity, metered water and phone bills. You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

 

Funding for home improvements to lower your energy bills

There are grants available to pay for home improvements which will lower your energy bills. If you receive certain benefits, these grants are available whether you own or rent your home. 

Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme

As part of the government’s ECO scheme, certain energy suppliers will provide funding for energy-saving home improvement projects. To be eligible, you must get certain benefits, and own or privately rent your home, or live in social housing. The funding is available for projects like cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, ​​replacing broken boilers or heaters. Find out more and apply for the ECO scheme with Bulb

Warmer Homes Scotland

This is designed to help people make their homes warmer and more comfortable by installing a range of energy-saving improvements. Improvements available depend on your property but can include different types of insulation and heating. The Home Energy Scotland website has more information about Warmer Homes Scotland and how to apply.

Energy saving advice
For free, or low-cost changes you can make to lower your energy bills, see:

Independent organisations offering debt advice

This is a list of trusted, independent organisations offering free debt advice. Most organisations offer advice online. But many also offer support over the phone, or via online chat.

Finding the right type of support

National Debtline is a charity with a focus on connecting people in debt to the right type of support. If you prefer to speak to someone over the phone, call them on 0808 808 4000. They’re open Monday to Friday between 9am and 8pm, and Saturday 9:30am to 1pm. They’re also available on webchat.

Help to set up an action plan

StepChange is a debt charity which aims to help people get their finances back on track. They provide holistic support, with a focus on debt resolution. Find out the best ways to contact StepChange.

Debt Advice Foundation has a free telephone debt counselling service, which helps over 10,000 people every year. If you are worried about debt you can talk to an adviser in confidence on 0800 043 40 50. They aim to help people regain control of their finances by:

  • reducing monthly payments to a realistic and affordable level
  • stopping creditors taking enforcement action against you
  • protecting important assets such as your home

General advice on personal debts and finances

Citizens Advice offers independent, impartial support and advice to millions of people. Contact them for information about energy, debts and money, your consumer rights and more. Visit Citizens Advice online, or find out how to contact your local branch.

Money Helper is a new service which joins up the government-backed financial guidance providers, Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. 

Similar to Citizens Advice, Money Helper offers a broad range of advice, with a focus on debt, benefits, housing and pensions. There are lots of ways to contact Money Helper, including webchat, phone and WhatsApp.

Information about benefits and grants

Turn2Us is a charity which can help you find benefits and grants you may be entitled to. They also offer general financial advice and information about how to find your local benefits advisors.

If you’re based in Scotland, use the Home Energy Scotland funding finder to search for grants, discounts and funding schemes in your area.

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