There are many organisations and services that offer information, leaflets, advice lines and self-assessment tools to help you find out about your rights and entitlements, manage your money and sort out financial problems. These include
- Age UK - includes tax, benefits, debt advice and State Pension Age calculators
- Citizens Advice Bureau - information, sample letters, videos, FAQs and online tools
- First Stop Advice - information for older people, including funding care, benefits and equity release
- Money Advice Service - free, unbiased information to help you manage your money
- Tax Help for Older People - a service from the charity Tax Volunteers providing free, independent and expert help and advice for older people on lower incomes who cannot afford to pay for professional tax advice
Updated February 2016
The Suffolk Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) scheme may be able to help you if you find yourself in a crisis and are in need of food, or essential items when you are setting up home and have no other way of being able to get help.
To access the scheme you will need to talk to the support organisation that you normally deal with. This might be your tenancy or housing support worker, hostel worker, social worker, housing options adviser or care coordinator. If you do not have contact with any support organisation then you may be able to get some information about the scheme from your local Age UK advice service if you are aged 55 or over; your local disability advice service if you have a disability or are a carer of a person with a disability or your local CAB office. See Money Advice for more information about such organisations.
The LWA never provides cash payments. Help will normally be given as a voucher for your local food bank, or furniture project.
If you are struggling to keep afloat financially there is plenty of help available, so you don’t need to worry about it by yourself. When looking for help, be aware of companies charging fees for any debt help services as there are in fact many charitable organisations offering free, confidential and impartial advice.
The StepChange Debt Charity for example, offers a freephone advice service, as well as an online Debt Remedy tool. Their help is completely free, and the Debt Remedy tool is easy to use and can be filled in anonymously so you don’t have to give any personal information.
Talk about debt is a free and independent service where you can get expert and personal debt advice or join an online community and share information and experiences.
Debt Advice in BSL Information Video
- for help with fuel bills see the Suffolk County Council website
- Charis Grants helps people to access grants to meet household bills. Customers of British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, Anglian Water, South East Water, Veolia Water (Central, East, Southeast) may be able to apply
- WaterSure and Water UK help vulnerable people receiving certain benefits and allowances to manage their water bills
- there are a number of local and national charities that offer grants or help with particular needs. Some of them are listed here.
Loan sharks are unlicensed moneylenders who charge very high interest rates, sometimes using intimidation, harassment, threats and violence to frighten people who can't pay back their loan. They often pressurise people into borrowing more from them to repay one debt with another. More information
Suffolk County Council works in conjunction with the Suffolk Credit Unions, savings and loans co-operatives which aim to help people in their local area:
- Eastern Savings and Loans (Previously Ipswich and Suffolk Credit Union Ltd) 61-3 Austin Street, Ipswich, IP2 8DF. Telephone 01473 690690
- Rainbow Saver Anglia Credit Union Ltd Administration Centre, 229 London Road South, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0DS. Telephone 01502 584854
- Suffolk Credit Union is for people who live or work in Suffolk and are a public sector employee. It is also open to the families of members and pensioners of the public sector. Please contact Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich IP1 2BX. Telephone 01473 265000.