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WINTER 2018

M O N E Y

t n e R IAL

C E SP

H E L P

A D V I C E

Inside:

WAYS TO PAY YOUR RENT COPING WITH UNIVERSAL CREDIT ESCAPING DEBT POP UP BUSINESS SCHOOL AND LOTS MORE!

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£1.50 WHERE SOLD

UNIVERSAL 6th Edition

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CREDIT

Advice

✔ Applying for it Universal Cred r ✔ Getting you budget sorted ✔ Finding the unt right acco

EXPERT ADVICE

Martin Lewis The money saving expert!

e Jack Monro blogger Internet food

BANKING

BUDGETING

BROADBAND

? Y D A E R

u Are yo

pitfalls ng the UC , avoidi y on e systemople alread ing th pe Access ning from ar le and

YOUR MONEY

BE INFORMED

Jessie Pavelka

Motivation can be the key

Duncan Winsome The budgeting

queen bee

L TAKE CONTRO

Coming soon


WELCOME

Contents 03 Welcome 13 Taking Control of Your Energy Costs 04 Six Ways to Pay Your Rent 14 Eat Down the Pantry 06 Coping with Universal Credit 16 Coming Soon - Building Your Future 06 Don’t Get Caught Out when You Move Out 16 Work & Skills Wise 06 Don’t Take the Risk 17 Getting Money Wise 06 Why Rent First Matters 18 Active Inclusion 08 Universal Credit - 20 PopUp Business School Be Prepared 22 Good As Gold Scheme 09 Struggling to Pay Your 23 Find Your Ideal Home in Rent? Abergavenny 09 Good News from 24 Changes to Your Rent BrightHouse Notice 10 Escape a Christmas Debt 26 Get Online @ Home Hangover 12 Pay Plan & Step Change 28 Salvage Heroes

30 Budgeting Loan 31 The Discretionary

Assistance Fund

32 Basic Bank Accounts 34 Have Your Work or

Household Circumstances Changed?

35 Budget Planner

If you would like this Newsletter in a different format (e.g. large print, electronically, etc.) or in Welsh please contact Louise Davies on 01495 761104 or email louise.davies@monmouthshirehousing.co.uk 0345 677 2277 customerservices@monmouthshirehousing.co.uk www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk facebook.com/Monmouthshire.Housing twitter.com/mon_housing instagram.com/monhousing

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www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

Scan the QR code to access the MHA website.


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Welcome

Wales is enjoying a vibrant economic time. It has its lowest ever levels of unemployment and its highest ever number of people in work. Yet for many, it doesn’t feel like a boom. Although many tenants are in work it is often short hours and low paid. From what tenants are telling us money is tight in almost every household and people are having to constantly decide which of their bills has the highest priority. We at Monmouthshire Housing are lucky that the vast majority of our tenants firmly believe that having a safe and secure home over their family’s head, with low rents and running costs and free repairs is a priority. As a result our rent arrears are very low and we don’t have to invest too heavily in chasing money we are owed. It’s this belief which allows us to continually invest in your homes and services, which is our priority. But how can we keep this up? Especially as changes to the benefits system is making it more difficult for people to access benefits. At MHA we have the “Rent First” approach. The

idea behind “Rent First” is to emphasise the importance of paying your rent and ensuring that out of all your outgoings rent is the priority. Without a permanent home everything becomes so much more difficult and expensive; disrupting earnings, family life and quality of life. We know this can only work if we work closely with you and have designed a whole range of services and help for tenants based on what tenants have told us they want. We will help you budget your money, apply for and appeal against benefits decisions, help you into training courses, help you into work,

prepare you for interviews and give you work experience. We will help you negotiate with utility companies and other people you might owe money to, including door step lenders, credit card companies and catalogue companies. By working through this together we can achieve satisfaction all round. We are determined to give you all the help you require, don’t sit at home and fret about your financial worries, contact us we are here to help and want to.

John Keegan Chief Executive

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Six Ways to Pay • Ask them to call MHA on 01495 761107 and quote ‘DD referral’ and give the name and address of the person who has recommended them.

DIRECT DEBIT

• Once the new tenant has made consecutive payments for three months by Direct Debit and has a clear rent account, a £25 voucher will be sent to both tenants.

• If you would like to pay your rent by Direct Debit please contact us on 01495 745770 or 01495 761109 to set up over the phone • A Direct Debit can be set up for any day of the month and for any frequency including weekly, fortnightly, monthly, four weekly and quarterly. Please advise us when you call your preferred choice Refer a Friend to pay by Direct Debit • Tenants who already pay their rent by Direct Debit, can recommend a friend, relative or neighbour to sign up to pay their rent by Direct Debit and receive a £25 voucher each; one for you, and one for your recommended friend. To qualify all you need to do is: • Recommend a friend, family member or neighbour to sign up to the Direct Debit scheme

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INTERNET BANKING • Payments are made via MHA’s website – www. monmouthshirehousing. co.uk • Payments are credited to your account within 2 working days

STANDING ORDER • You can set up a standing order with your bank or building society to pay an amount on a day or date you decide using Account Number 40601837 and Sort Code 20-01-43. • Standing Orders are made between you and your bank or building society and cannot be varied by MHA. • Payments are credited to your account within 2 working days. • Please note – ensure you give your tenancy reference or property address when making payments – otherwise we will not be able to credit the payment to your account.

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• If you use internet banking via your bank or building society’s website or mobile phone app, you can set up MHA as a payee for your rent using Account Number 40601837 and Sort Code 20-01-43 • Please note - ensure you give your tenancy reference or property address when making payments - otherwise we will not be able to credit the payment to your account


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Your Rent ALLPAY

TELEPHONE

• Firstly, you need to register your AllPay reference Number (the number that appears on your AllPay card) on the AllPay website: www.allpayments. net. You will need your email address to do this. You need to do this for the service below: • The AllPay Payment App • Pay by text • 24 hour telephone payment line • AllPay website • Payment Card • An AllPay payment card can be used at any post office or outlet displaying the ‘PayPoint Logo’ • Payments are credited to your account in 3 – 4 working days from the date paid • All receipts must be kept as proof of payment

• You can make a payment over the phone using a debit or credit card by calling us free on 0303 123 1127 - Select option 1 for the 24 hour automated payment line or; select option 2 if you wish to speak to an advisor (between the hours of 8:30am-5:00pm MondayThursday, or 8:30am-4:30pm Friday. • Payments are credited to your account on the next working day. • If you select 1, you will need to have already registered you AllPay reference number.

CASH OR CHEQUE • Cash can be paid into any branch of Barclays Bank using Account Number 40601837 and Sort Code 20-01-43 • All receipts must be kept as proof of payment • Please make cheques payable to Monmouthshire Housing Association Ltd and post to: Monmouthshire Housing Association, Nant-Y-Pia House, Mamhilad Technology Park, Mamhilad, Monmouthshire, NP4 0JJ • Payments may take up to 5 working days to be credited to your account

• Please call 01495 745770 to order a AllPay Payment Card • For further information call 0345 677 2277 or visit our website www. monmouthshirehouysing. co.uk/allpay twitter.com/mon_housing

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Coping with Universal Credit Julie’s Story

“It’s been dead awkward. Six weeks with no money, that was the hardest part. My advice to anyone moving onto Universal Credit would be to try and get some savings together – even a little bit can make a real difference.” After finishing caring full-time for her elderly mother, MHA tenant Julie was asked to apply to move onto the government’s Universal Credit benefits system. Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment replacing Jobseeker’s Allowance and other workrelated benefits. It usually takes 5 to 6 weeks for a new claim to be assessed and for the first payment to arrive. Julie admits she has found things difficult at times, but despite some challenges she’s coped well. Julie explains: “It was a lot easier to manage my finances previously when I received fortnightly benefits payments. But once I found out I was going to apply for Universal Credit I knew I had to prepare. I always have tins and long-life food in

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the cupboard, so I can get by during hard times. “I’m confident enough with the basics of using a computer, I set up an email address and bank account and felt fairly comfortable applying for Universal Credit myself. Staff in the Job Centre were there to help if I needed it. I did have to call the helpline a couple of times, which was a bit of a fiddle, but I got by. “I had help from Claire (Claire Osman, MHA Income Officer) too – she’s been great. She helped me budget effectively, so I had enough money to cover my bills, and called me to make sure I was okay during the six weeks without money – that was easily the hardest part. It’s lucky I had an overdraft. I’ve been an MHA tenant for over 20 years and my rent always comes first. I don’t want to lose my home. It’s comforting knowing that Claire’s at the end of the phone if I need help.” Claire said: “Julie has done really well. She’s managed to cope with the strain Universal Credit has placed on her finances and has come through ok. I was able to write to the DWP explaining Julie was coming from legacy benefits, saving her an extra seven days of waiting for money to come through. She’s very resilient and hasn’t really needed a lot of help from me.”

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Don’t get caught out when you move out You may have former tenant arrears if you have moved out of your MHA home or moved to another MHA property without paying all your rent or other housing related charges owing. You must pay back any rent that you owe. If you are having trouble paying all your debt at once, please contact MHA to organise a payment plan. You may continue to pay by instalments once your tenancy has ended as long as you maintain your agreement. Failure to make payment, or an arrangement for payment, can affect your credit status. It can also affect any housing application you make. If you have any queries about your former tenant arrears or require further information, or if you think you won’t be able to pay in full, please contact ???


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Don’t Take the Risk! There are very real consequences to not paying your rent – from the possibility of a county court judgement (CCJ), a poor credit rating and the potential of your future housing options being affected. Ultimately, there is even a risk you could lose your home. Losing your home through eviction can be one of the most horrendous things that can happen to you. Not only do you have to face the prospect of standing before a district judge in a court of law, as well as significant legal bills, but the loss of a home can have dramatic effect on you and your family’s physical and mental health. MHA is committed to making sure our tenants have every opportunity to stay living in their homes and our dedicated Income Team can help you a wide range of ways to keep on top of your rent and in your home.

Eviction is always the last resort, however, there have been 14 households evicted by MHA since April 2016. In all these cases MHA staff have worked relentlessly to try and work with the affected tenants, but the people involved chose not to engage with us. It’s often the hardest call to make – but by getting in touch with MHA to discuss any issues you are having with paying your rent means we can start looking at ways to help – and keep you and your family in your home.

Why Rent First Matters! We face all sorts of financial pressures in our day to day lives, but keeping a roof over our heads should always be the first priority every month. There are many ways you could be affected by not keeping up to date with your rent – from a county court judgement (CCJ), a poor credit rating, and limited housing options in the future and potentially even losing your home. MHA can help you in all sorts of ways if you are struggling to pay your rent. Our income team can help you to budget effectively and setting up a payment plan. Our Money Wise team can help you reduce your outgoings and maximise your income, and our Work and Skills Wise team can help you look at new employment, training and educational opportunities. There is also a guide to the range of ways you can pay your rent to MHA in this edition of Money Matters Above all, making sure you are up to date with your rent offers you the peace of mind that you and your family are safe and secure in your home. So if you are struggling to pay your rent, don’t bury your head in the sand and call MHA – we’re here to help! twitter.com/mon_housing

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UNIVERSAL CREDIT:

BE PREPARED STOP

1. Stop & think 2. Understand what Universal Credit (UC) is 3. Know when it’s going to hit you

GET READY

1. Six weeks = no cash 2. Manage your debts & start budgeting 3. Get online

GO

1. Open a bank account 2. Start saving 3. Tell us as soon as you are asked to apply for UC

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Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Good News!

TAKE ACTIO N

Don’t bury your head in the sand Since April 2016, MHA has EVICTED 14 households due to their rent debt. These have been cases where MHA has worked hard to contact and support tenants but they have chosen not to engage with us. Eviction is always a last resort, so if you are struggling then please contact us – we have lots of support available. Please don’t leave it too late.

If you need support we are here to help! Call the Income Team on 01495 761 016.

Bright House

to refund interest & charges Following an investigation by the FCA, BrightHouse have agreed to pay back around £14.8 million to 249,000 of their customers in respect of agreements which may not have been affordable and refunds that should have been made. BrightHouse will write to all affected customers to explain the refund or balance adjustment that they will receive. Clients do not need to take any action until they are contacted by BrightHouse. Those wishing to find out if they might be due a refund and those who have moved since buying from BrightHouse can call BrightHouse’s new dedicated helpline on 0800 30 40 80.

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ESCAPE A

CHRISTMAS

DEBT HANGOVER How to avoid a debt Spiral and reduce your spending Overspent this Christmas and struggling to pay all your bills? It is not easy to suddenly reduce spending and most of us have tried and failed to change our spending habits. Avoid the Christmas debt hangover and entering the debt spiral.

One of our tenants recently found herself in a debt spiral due to overspending. Here is her story: Miss x lives with her partner and two teenage sons as homemaker alongside caring for her elderly mother. Her partner, Mr x pays the bills and Miss x spends

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her child tax credit and child benefit on the children and herself. Everything was fine until is Mr x leaves her and Miss x is devastated financially. The rent


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

A sudden drop in income does not always mean an instant change in lifestyle has to happen. Could you tell your child they can’t watch their favourite programme because sky is gone, Christmas is cancelled and they can’t have any pocket money and have to quit their hobbies. It’s easy to say just stop spending and incredibly hard to do it in real life. Spending needs to be within your means for the spiral to stop repeating itself. It may take a few times around before change happens.

Here are some of the best tips to help you in 2018

What could Mrs X do? 1. Decide what is a priority and what could be economised 2. Carefully plan how she can cut back on overspending but maintain a decent lifestyle. 3. Manage debts first and stop borrowing. There are hundreds of tips and ways to save but it all depends on your lifestyle goals and your priorities it’s an individual thing. For help with budgeting or saving contact the Money Advice team. * The names and some details have been changed to protect the identity.

an You spend more thin you have coming

You borrow from various sources to fill the gap More of your income is used on paying back debts

You keep borrowing to maintain repayments and your lifestyle You reach crisis point and no longer have anything left after Debt Repayments

1. Make a really honest budget including one off annual costs like mots or birthdays add in some flexibility and contingency there are always small unexpected costs. 2. Look for ways to save money without affecting your lifestyle perhaps swapping pricey Sky TV for Netflix or Freeview. Switch gas and electric suppliers or go on cheaper tariffs. Reduce pocket money and ask for help, a granddad or an aunty may be happy to pay for a child’s hobby as a gift. Buy clothes from a charity shop or eBay instead of a catalogue? 3. Increase income. You are allowed to earn £116 a week whilst on carers allowance. Could you work part time or sell unwanted things?

TIP P O

T

arrears start to build and bills go unpaid, as the tax credits and Child Benefit are used to buy food. Miss x has never claimed benefits by herself and doesn’t know what to do or where to start. When she is referred to money advice things are worse and she is a month in arrears and receiving calls and letters for utility bills. The money advice team help her apply for housing benefit and council tax benefit and Carers Allowance alongside the existing benefits - we also arrange direct debit management system for gas electric and water. However Miss x did not alter here spending habits and is still overspending by £30 a week, which although does not sound like a lot but can quickly get out of control. To keep maintaining her lifestyle and pay the bills she borrows money from her family and a door step lender. Miss x knows she is struggling and does more betting to try and win some money. At this point she starts to enter a debt spiral which is slowly turning into a crisis.

our y n a Pl g list n i p shop nce and n va in ad hop whe rs neve r hungry you twitter.com/mon_housing

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Pay Plan & Step Change Free Debt Management Plans

Are you or is someone you know being harassed by constant phone calls and letters from companies you owe money too? Signing up to a debt management plan put a stop to any worrying letters or phone calls from your creditors, it can also help you pay back what you owe and getting out of debt altogether – at a manageable rate and without having to go insolvent. Being in any type of Debt can be really stressful and Payplan and Step change are both Independent Debt charities that can help you sort things out for free. Their advice is telephone based and they are funded by donations from the Credit Industry. PayPlans website says “Payplan offer 100% free debt advice and 100% free debt management plans. We don’t charge our clients anything” Step changes website says “We offer free debt advice that is based on

a comprehensive assessment of your situation. We’ll then provide practical help and support for however long it’s needed.” They both offer a full range of debt solutions from Debt Management Plans to Debt Relief orders Bankruptcy depending on your circumstances. Step change offer a self-management Debt tool on their website and they are a bigger organisation but they are both equally effective. You have probably seen adverts for Commercial Debt Management companies & may have experience of using a Debt Management company and there is nothing wrong with however they usually charge you a monthly fee for their Debt Management Plans and this

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means that it will take longer to pay off your debts then using a free service. They make money by charging you fees on a monthly basis Telephone advice is not for everyone and some people need support whilst they are going through the Stepchange/ Payplan process either with the paperwork they send out or help with the telephone appts. The MHA Moneywise Debt advice service is here to offer help and support you through the process and get you back in control of your Money. Call Abi: 01495 767181 Stepchange: 0800 138 1111 Payplan: 0808 250 4545


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Taking control of your energy costs

As energy prices rise it’s vital that we don’t pay more than we have to. Here are our top 5 tips to bring your gas and electricity costs under control.

Check you’re on the best energy deal! • Check you are on the best gas and electricity deal via visiting www.energycompare. citizensadvice.org.uk, www. uswitch.com or www. moneysupermarket.com

Don’t Use More Than You Have to • Turning down the thermostat • Setting the timing • Using radiator thermostats

Fill it up! • Make sure appliances are used to their full capacity - don’t waste and fill up

Just turn it off! • Turning off the lights when you leave • Turning the TV off when you’re not in the room • Not leaving things on standby will help cut costs

Get Smart • Smart meter displays can deliver important benefits • Puts you in visual control of your energy use • There will be no more estimated meter readings • You pay for what you use • There will be no more digging around in the cupboard to take readings • There is no upfront costs for installation

• Most of all, they are free! You just have to ask your energy supplier for one

Fuel Saver Get to know your dials

Check your heating comes on and off at times that fit with your daily routine, and check it’s at the right temperature. 1 degree lower could save you around £75/year. This might sound obvious but it’s an easy one to forget amongst busy lifestyles. Making sure you have these in check will not only keep you warm when you’re at home, but can also help you save money. twitter.com/mon_housing

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P O TI T

Take cash t super o the mark e you d on’t g t so o ov budge t on y er our debit card

P

n w o D Eat Y R T N A P E H T

Still suffering from Christmas debt hangover? Save on this week’s shopping bill and make it your mission to use up what you have lurking in the house. It’s surprising what we find in the back of cupboards and freezers and with just a little imagination you can create some great dishes (be safe though and check perishable dates first!)

Stew Visit your local supermarket and pick up a vegetable stew/ casserole pack in the fresh section (ranging from 73p) and use up any chops, steaks, chicken thighs/breasts you have in the freezer. Chop and fry off the meat in a large pan, add chopped vegetables, a little flour and stock and simmer for 50 minutes. Meat alternative - add canned mixed beans or something similar, zing it up with some herbs and spices from the pantry or include dough balls.

Pizza Roll Ups Defrost, cover with grease-proof paper, get a rolling pin and flatten out the pizza. Add a little extra cheese and roll up into a sausage shape. Slice the roll into 1-1½ thick pieces. Lay out on a baking tray and cook for 20/25 minutes Gas mark 4/180c. Viola! A tasty snack to enjoy with a dips or make a meal out of it by adding salad or chips.

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Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Scotch Eggs Have a freezer full of sausages? • Defrost, slice skins along the length and peel off. • Hard boil a few eggs, dip in plain flour and mould sausage pulp around the egg. • Dip in beaten egg, roll in breadcrumbs and either deep fry for 8-10 mins or bake in the oven for 25 mins (Gas mark 5/190c)

Meatballs Transform your unwanted burgers into tasty meatballs! • Defrost and make lots of small tight balls of mince beef/ pork (if consistency is too loose add a little beaten egg to bind it together). • Lightly fry until golden add chopped onion, mushrooms, garlic – cook until softened. • Add 1-2 tinned chopped tomatoes, a little gravy granule stock and simmer for 10 mins. • Serve with spaghetti, pasta shapes, vegetables or a sprinkle of cheese and a hunk of bread.

Why not try out this tasty and inexpensive meal plan for the week? Breakfast

Dinner

Tea

Roast chicken dinner

Cheese & ham wraps

Monday French toast

Jacket Potato with beans and cheese

Leftover chicken with pasta in a mustard sauce

Tuesday Porridge with fruit & nuts

Bacon & cheese omelette

Sausage casserole

Wednesday Scrambled egg ‘n’ toast

Fruity couscous/rice salad

Roast gammon dinner

Thursday Fruit and yoghurt topped with museli

Leftover gammon & pea frittata wedges with salad

Cheese & potato pie with baked beans

Corned beef & pickle sandwiches

Meatballs

Bacon and cheese potato wedges ‘n’ salad

Toad in the Hole

Sunday Bacon rolls

Friday Potato rosti with fried egg Saturday Cereal and toast

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Coming Soon

Build Your Future

Want to build a career?

Contact us to gain qualifications, experience and access vacancies to climb the construction ladder.

Care about your future Exploring the care sector

Buying into your future

Getting into and progressing in the retail sector Contact Work & Skills Wise for more information: T: 01495 745769 E: wsw@ monmouthshirehousing. co.uk

Work & Skills Wise Hi, my name’s Cath Murray and I am the Work & Skills Wise Advisor for South Monmouthshire in the Chepstow, Caldicot & surrounding areas. 2017 has been a great year for Work & Skills Wise clients, of whom we have supported a record number of customers into employment this financial year. Our Work & Skills Wise Service can support you with developing your skills and experience to help you progress, grow and lead you into your next job as well as assisting you to progress in your chosen career.

Work & Skills Wise can support you with: • Accessing volunteering opportunities in your chosen field of interest, to gain experience and references or to try out a trade. Through this, there is also an opportunity to gain a Level 1 Award in Work Related Education through our accreditation of the Work Experience Unit via Adult Learning Wales.

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• Provide you with a ‘Computer in the Community’ laptop loan for you to use in the comfort of your own home, to enable you to complete coursework at home, practice your IT skills and job search. • We can also assist you with training via our bursary scheme and one to one job searching support. If you are interested in any of these opportunities available via Work & Skills Wise and live in the South of Monmouthshire, please do give me a call to arrange an informal appointment for us to discuss how we can support you into accessing training, employment or volunteering opportunities.

T: 07891 685 750/01495 767193 E: wsw@monmouthshirehousing. co.uk


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Getting Money Wise

Hi I’m Matt – I work for the South of the county and am returning to work after a period of leave. The service has remodelled slightly to make sure we can provide advice to as many people as possible. I am available Monday to Friday to offer telephone based advice to our customer on Welfare benefits, Money Management and basic debt issues. If you need advice on any of the above please give me a call on 01495 767182.

Hi, Im Sarah, I cover the North of the county on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday along with Claire. I can help with applying for and appealing benefits, We have a great record of taking cases to appeal. With Christmas over, are you ready to start saving for next year? Did you know that if you wanted to open a savings account with Credit Union, MHA will start of your account with a £10 voucher, a great way to put a bit aside every week! Credit Union have many accounts available, including special Christmas accounts where your money is held until November. Get in touch if you wanted help with a savings account, or anything else we offer! If you need advice on any of the above please give me a call on 01495 767181/07725 824800.

My name is Abi, Im the specialist Debt Advisor in the Moneywise Team. I help MHA tenants deal with problem Debts. I work Wednesday to Friday mainly on the phone but I can do home appointments if required. If you or someone you know is struggling with Debts you can phone me on 01495 767181 or you can Whatsapp me text me or phone me on my mobile 07725824800. I can now help you access your credit report for free all I need is your last six years addresses. Its never too early or too late or too early to deal with money problems and there is plenty of help out there whatever the situation.

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Active Inclusion Monmouthshire Employment Pathway The Work & Skills Wise Service were fortunate enough to be awarded European Social Fund ‘Active Inclusion’ funding to provide 12 paid, supported work placements to support people in Monmouthshire who were seeking work.

As part of the Work & Skills Wise Services, we developed the Monmouthshire Employment Pathway. We provided all candidates with the Work & Skills Wise, Level 1 Award in Work Related Education through the Job Seeking Skills Programme as well as relevant training such as IOSH, CSCS etc. These 12 candidates have been placed both within MHA itself and with partner organisations such as SERS, Cosgrove Construction Ltd, Sales Academy 2012, Nicholls of Abergavenny & Pink Angels. This has involved cross departmental & private sector organisational working.

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Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Results of the Monmouthshire Employment Pathway are: • Engage with 13 participants, getting 12 into paid ‘supported work placements’ • Work placements ranged from construction based roles to receptionist, office administration and café assistant roles. • This resulted in 8 of these customers gaining sustainable job outcomes as a result • We support 1 client into higher education • Assist 1 client into a volunteer placement If you are interested in any initiatives Work & Skills Wise offer to support people into work, contact the team on wsw@ monmouthshirehousing.co.uk or call 01495 745769.

“I Believed my building industry career has failed and didn’t think I’d ever work again after falling off a roof. The Active Inclusion project got me back on the ladder. “ “It is a fantastic project and I would recommend it to anyone who has been out of work a long time.” John

“Active Inclusion provided a stepping stone back into work allowing you to build up slowly. It has been a really positive impact on my life, getting me into work and being able to stay in work.” Julie

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Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

P

op up Business School helps people set up their own Businesses and get their big ideas off the ground. Based around a series of interactive workshops – from building a website for free to getting the confidence to start up on your own. Pop up Business school offers the ideal starting point to turn your ideas into reality. In September 2017 Pop up Business School returned to Newport Market in September 2017 We met up with Anthony and Daisy at Pop up Business School, who wanted to turn their business dream into reality and were in the process of starting of the new business selling natural beauty products. The idea came from Daisy whose young child suffered with severe nappy rash which has removed a layer of skin, Daisy decided to

carry out some research on baby products and what products were actually in them and started learning about different cosmetics. Daisy tried using natural oils on the babies skin, which helped clear the nappy rash and realised there was a need to develop a line for testing of baby products. Daisy being the brains of sales and developing the product and Anthony being both business minded, manufacturing of the product, creating and designing the website and setting up pricing plan in readiness to sell the final product. Pop up Business School has provided them with the skills to develop their own business and aim to start selling their products locally at markets and by having product parties. Daisy commented that “Pop up Business School has given them

the driving force they needed and were naming their Business Daisy’s Pure Skincare.” Some of the products on offer were coconut and coffee shower melts, peppermint and eucalyptus body scrub which helps clear blocked noses and also body balms and lip balms. Daisy said “MHA is more than just housing and realised that support doesn’t stop there and courses like Pop up Business School are amazing and a great opportunity. Anthony told us “Pop up Business School removed any doubts we had and why we should just go for it. It is a life changing opportunity which has given us the confidence to move forward with our ideas and we are extremely grateful to Monmouthshire Housing (MHA) to have been given the stepping stones to get us started.” twitter.com/mon_housing

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MHA’s Good as Gold Scheme is a quarterly free prize draw giving five MHA tenants the chance to win £50. The draw is for ALL tenants who keep up to date with their rent payments and are not in arrears. Remember every penny paid in rent is returned in services and improvements for tenants of Monmouthshire Housing and it will not cost you anything to participate. All you need to do it keep your rent up to date and you will be entered into the quarterly draw to win £50

22 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Find your ideal home in Abergavenny Monmouthshire Housing Association has a range of brand new, affordable homes to rent for people aged 55+ at our new high quality developments in Abergavenny. To rent your affordable new home in Abergavenny you must be registered with Monmouthshire Homesearch – Monmouthshire’s choice based lettings scheme. To register visit www.monmouthshirehomesearch.co.uk or call 0345 900 2956 during office hours for more information.

www.mhahomes.co.uk/abergavenny-independent-living

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23


RENT SPECIAL

Changes to Your Rent Notice... (De-pooling service charges)

During March you will receive your annual rent and service charge notice which will take effect from 2nd April 2018. Up until now your rent has included charges that cover the costs of maintaining your home and surrounding area. Your new rent notice will show you a breakdown of the service charges* making it clearer to understand what services you are paying for. The majority of service charges will apply to flats and bungalows.

*

Don’t worry...

We’re just letting you know that your rent notice will look a little different in future. Please continue to pay your rent as usual.

24 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

Window cleaning Grass cutting & landscaping


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277 How will it change for me? You will continue to pay as you normally would. All that’s changed is we are now showing you a breakdown of what services you are being charged for. These charges have always been included within your rent but not clearly identified.

Are these extra charges to what I normally pay when I pay my rent? No.

Will my rent go up? Welsh Government sets the rents for housing associations and usually there is a rent increase every April linked to inflation. Tenants rent will not increase as a result of the de-pooling changes, however service charges are based on the actual costs of the service, so service charges could go up or down in the future.

How do I pay for these service charges? Please continue to pay your rent as normal.

I claim Housing Benefit will this cover my service charges? All service charges are covered by Housing Benefit (called eligible service charges) and we will be working closely with the Housing Benefit department to make them aware of these changes. A list of all Service charges with a description will be included in your rent notice.

I claim Universal Credit will this cover my service charges? All service charges are also covered by Universal Credit.

Is there anyone I can speak to about this if I need further information? You can visit our website www. monmouthshirehousing.co.uk for more information or please contact our Customer Services Advisors on 0345 677 2277 or, email customerservices@monmouthshirehousing. co.uk

I don’t pay rent? All tenants pay rent, however, your rent may be fully covered or partially covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Fire safety & security

Communal lighting

Lift maintenance

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25


RENT SPECIAL

PC (Computer): PC (Computer): £99£99 17” TFT Monitor o 17”oTFT Monitor o Core 2 Duo Processor o Core 2 Duo Processor o 3GB RAM o 3GB RAM HDD o 80GB o 80GB HDD Drive o DVDRW o Keyboard o DVDRW Drive& Mouse o Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2010 o Keyboard & Mouse (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook), o Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2010 Windows Defender (Antivirus) (Word, Excel,Warranty PowerPoint & Outlook), o 6 Month & Telephone Windows Defender (Antivirus) Support o Delivery o 6 Month Warranty & Telephone Support PC Upgrade Options o Delivery o Wi-Fi Adapter: £15 o I3 Processor: £20 PC Upgrade Options o I5 Processor: £40 o Wi-Fi Adapter: o Increase to £15 4GB RAM: £15 o Increase to£20 6GB RAM (available with o I3 Processor: i3 & i5 processor o I5 Processor: £40 only): £30 o Increase to RAM£15 (available with o Increase to 4GB8GB RAM: i3 & i5 processor only): £40 o 160GB o Increase 6GB£20 RAM (available with Hardto Drive: i3 &o i5250GB processor only):£25 £30 Hard Drive: o Increase to Hard 8GBDrive: RAM£30 (available with o 320GB Hard drive: £35 i3 &o i5500GB processor only): £40 o 160GB o 12 Month warranty: £25 Hard Drive: £20 o 12GB PAYG Mobile broadband o 250GB Hard Drive: £25 Dongle (service provider Three) : o 320GB Hard Drive: £30 £59.99 o 500GB Hard drive: £35 o 12 Month warranty: £25 o 12GB PAYG Mobile broadband Dongle (service provider Three) : £59.99

26 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

Laptop: £149 Laptop: £149 oo 14”14” (minimum) Screen size size (minimum) Screen o Core 2 duo Processor o 3GB RAM Core 2 duo Processor o 3GB RAM oo 80GB HDD 80GBDrive HDD oo DVDRW DVDRW oo Wi-Fi enabledDrive oo Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2010 Wi-Fi enabled Excel, 10, PowerPoint & Outlook), o(Word, Windows Microsoft Office 2010 Windows Defender (Antivirus) (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook), o 6 Month Warranty & Telephone Windows Defender (Antivirus) Support 6 Month Warranty & Telephone oo Delivery

Support

Laptop Upgrade Options o Delivery o I3 Processor: £20 o Laptop I5 Processor: £40 Options Upgrade o Increase to 4GB RAM: £15 I3 Processor: £20(available oo Increase to 6GB RAM owithI5i3Processor: £40only): £30 & i5 processor oo Increase to 8GB RAM(available with Increase to 4GB RAM: £15 i5 processor only):RAM £40 (available oi3 &Increase to 6GB o 160GB Hard Drive: £20 with i3 & i5 processor only): £30 o 250GB Hard Drive: £25 Increase to 8GB oo 320GB Hard Drive: £30RAM(available with i3 & Hard i5 processor o 500GB drive: £35only): £40 Hard Drive: oo 12160GB Month warranty: £25 £20 oo 12GB PAYGHard Mobile broadband 250GB Drive: £25 (service oDongle 320GB Hardprovider Drive:Three): £30 £59.99

o 500GB Hard drive: £35 o 12 Month warranty: £25 o 12GB PAYG Mobile broadband Dongle (service provider Three): £59.99


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

FREE Computer

*

when you sign up to a broadband deal

or Buy a Windows 10 PC or Laptop from only

£99

**

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Call 03719 100 100 email info@computerrecyclersuk.com Web: http://www.getonlineathome.org

*I’M LOOKING FOR BROADBAND We’ll find the best broadband deals available to you. If you decide to sign up, then you’ll receive a FREE windows 10 refurbished PC or we can offer you a Windows 10 refurbished laptop for £59.00

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email info@computerrecyclersuk.com Web: http://broadband.getonlineathome.org

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27


RENT SPECIAL

Salvage Heroes

Despite the fact it’s a bitterly cold Monday morning, business is booming at the Monmouthshire branch of the Forest Upcycling Project. More than a dozen people pass through the large warehouse during the 45 minutes I’m there – all looking for affordable second hand furniture, white goods and other household items. The Forest Upcycling Project is a charity that resells donated household goods at affordable prices. From tables and chairs to beds, sofas, fridges, artworks and even fish tanks – there is a huge range of high quality goods available, and the project sees hundreds of visitors every week. The project supports local people with disabilities to get practical work experience and practical, employment focused training. The project branched out into Chepstow in 2016, after initially launching in Cinderford in 2014, with the same aim of supporting vulnerable people in the local area.

MHA tenant Dafydd Williams is one of 12 volunteers working part-time at the Chepstow project. He has learning difficulties, Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and struggles with concentrating on specific tasks and distractions around him. Dafydd, 20, was encouraged to apply for a volunteering role at the project by Cath Murray from MHA’s Work & Skills Wise service after expressing an interest in finding work. Dafydd also received support from MHA Social Inclusion Officer Terri

28 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

Power, who referred him into the Work and Skills Wise service. The Work and Skills Wise team worked with Dafydd to help him find and apply for the work placement with the Monmouthshire Upcycling Project. Cath is also helping him work towards a Level 1 Award in Work Related Education. Dafydd attends college four days a week and volunteers at the Upcycling Project one day a week. He explains how much he’s enjoying working there: “I like to keep busy, so this is a great job for me! I help people find what


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Want to improve any of your basic skills? Maths, English, IT? We have new and exciting opportunities for you to join us for coffee and an informal chat to get you started. In conjunction with Monmouthshire’s local Community Education, we are offering: Coffee & Conversations Coffee & Calculations Coffee & Computers

they are looking for. I help clean up, sweeping the warehouse and I move furniture around. Helping others makes me feel good about myself. Hopefully I can continue working here.” Kris Vaughan-Adkins is Deputy Project Manager for Monmouthshire Upcycle Project. He said: “Dafydd has great customer service skills, he’s enthusiastic and good at cleaning. He’s also working hard to improve his focus on longer jobs and we’ve seen a big improvement since he started. It’s great having Dafydd on board.” Cath Murray said: “I have been supporting Dafydd since August 2017 and he is a real pleasure to work with. Dafydd clearly loves learning new things

and gets a lot of fulfilment through helping people. The volunteering placement with the Monmouthshire Upcycling Project has been ideal. They provide a great deal of support to volunteers whilst letting them learn and develop independently as well. We are very grateful for the opportunities they have provided.” Monmouthshire Recycling Project is open Monday to Saturday, and is the perfect place to pick up high quality, used and upcycled furniture at great prices. Why not pay them a visit? Monmouthshire Upcycle Project, Station Rd, Chepstow NP16 5PF.

Visit forestupcyclingproject. com to find out more.

P TIP O T

Sell any old clothes and toys on ebay, gumtree or facebook

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RENT SPECIAL

Budgeting Loan 1. How they work A Budgeting Loan can help pay for: • Furniture or household items (for example, washing machines or other ‘white goods’) • Clothes or footwear • Rent in advance • Costs linked to moving house • Maintenance, improvements or security for your home • Travelling costs within the UK • Costs linked to getting a new job • Maternity costs • Funeral costs • Repaying hire purchase loans • Repaying loans taken for the above items

2. Check if you’re eligible To get a Budgeting Loan you must have been getting one of these benefits for the past 6 months: • Income Support • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance • Pension Credit

You can’t get a Budgeting Loan if: • You’re involved in industrial action (for example, a strike, walkout or lockout) • You owe more than £1,500 in total for Crisis Loans and Budgeting Loans • You can’t get a Budgeting Loan if you get Universal Credit. Apply for a Budgeting Advance instead.

3. What you could get The lowest amount you can borrow is £100. You could get up to: • £348 if you’re single • £464 if you have a partner • £812 if you or your partner claim Child Benefit

4. Paying back the loan How much you could get depends on whether you: • Can pay the loan back • Have savings of more than £1,000 (£2,000 if you or your partner are 63 or over) • Are paying back an existing Budgeting Loan or Crisis Loan • A Budgeting Loan is interest free so you only pay back what you borrow

30 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

• The repayments will be taken automatically from your benefits. The amounts you repay are based on how much benefit you get and what you can afford • You normally have to repay the loan within 2 years (104 weeks). If you stop getting benefits, you’ll need to arrange another way to repay The loan is paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

Ways to apply Online at www.gov.uk/ budgeting-help-benefits. If you apply online, you’ll be told whether you’ve been offered a loan within 20 working days. If you accept the loan offer, you’ll then receive the money within 11 working days. You can print and fill in form SF500. It can take up to 25 working days for your application to be processed.

You can also: • Pick up the form from your nearest Jobcentre Plus • Phone the Social Fund Monday to Friday: 0345 603 6967 and ask for a form to be posted to you - allow 5 working days for the form to arrive You can return your completed form by post or hand it in to your local Jobcentre Plus.


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

The Discretionary Assistance Fund The Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) is a fund of last resort designed to support people who cannot access any other help or funding at specific times of need – either in an emergency/crisis or when moving home (for specific reasons only). DAF is a grant scheme which can provide payments or inkind support for two purposes:

1. Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP) The EAP grant provides assistance in an emergency or when there is an immediate threat to health or wellbeing (i.e. have suffered a fire, flood, homelessness, domestic abuse, harassment or similar). Within 24 hours, this grant will be awarded to support you for a few days to cover the cost of food, clothing, gas and electricity and emergency travel expenses. You do not need to be receiving benefits to qualify for assistance

with an EAP grant however you will need to demonstrate you have no other support or financial means to cope with the emergency. There are limits on how many EAP grants you can apply for in a year.

2. Individual Assistance Payment (IAP) An IAP grant is awarded to enable independent living or continued independent living, preventing the need for institutional care. An IAP grant has specific criteria and qualifying conditions which you will need to meet and will be awarded for white goods such

as fridge, cooker and washer machine as well as other key home essentials such as curtains, beds, bedding and seating. This is only available to people on income based benefits and takes a max. of 10 working days to consider, so apply in plenty of time before you move house. If you are working with a support organisation, it may be worth speaking to your support worker or similar before you contact the DAF – they may be able to help you with your application. Call 0800 859 5924 (free from a landline) or apply on line at www.moneymadeclear.wales/ discretionary-assistance-fund twitter.com/mon_housing

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RENT SPECIAL

Basic Bank Accounts What are they? By Jason Thomas

T

I P T P O n

or w l s l Se lothe c ng t i u d o bed at t d h n a eig thes w by 4clo h cas

32 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277 Basic bank accounts were designed in the 90’s to help people who had poor credit histories get access to banking services. Not only this, but, by having an account it would open up ways for getting access to cheaper fuel and insurance products. These products would only be accessible through having a bank account and using that to pay via direct debit to get the “Best” deals! Anyone can have a basic account, you don’t have to fall into the category of having a poor credit history.

What Can Basic Bank Accounts do? • Set up standing orders and Direct Debits. • Deposit and Withdraw money at a post office • Have ATM access • Access to counter services • Receive a Debit Card • Will ‘NOT’ be charged any fees on returned Direct Debits.

What Can’t Basic Bank Accounts do? • Have an Overdraft • Get a Cheque book • Have a Credit Card • Open an account that you have to pay for. Eg. Added Value Accounts. When an application is made to open a basic bank account the bank must process the application within 10 working days. You must provide proof of identity and address to have an account. One of the main problems that my clients would encounter was getting ID, if you find yourself in this position when trying to open a bank account you can always contact me or the moneywise team on 01495 745 769 for help. The following banks offer basic bank accounts, however the way you go about applying can differ from downloading an application pack to, applying in branch and

some offer an online facility. • Barclays • The Co-operative Bank • HSBC • Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Lloyds, Halifax or Bank of Scotland. • Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks • Nationwide • The Royal Bank Of Scotland • TSB. For more impartial advice have a look at the Money Advice Website www. moneyadviceservice.org. uk/en/articles/basic-bankaccounts

Fee Free Bank Accounts Fee-free basic bank accounts are for people who don’t have a bank account or don’t qualify for a standard current account. The reason for an individual not being able to qualify for a bank account may be because... • You haven’t been able to build up a credit history or • You have a poor credit history because of money problems The difference between basic bank accounts and fee free bank accounts Fee-free basic bank accounts offer fewer services than a standard current account and you can’t use an overdraft. But you can:

• Have your wages, benefits and other income paid into your account • Pay in money and cheques for free (as long as they’re not in a foreign currency) • Take out money over the counter or from a cash machine • Pay regular bills by Direct Debit or standing order • Check account balances over the counter, at a cash machine, online or on your mobile • Use a debit card to pay for things in shops and online

Jason’s Top tips: As a debt advisor I have always recommended anyone in financial difficulty:

• Open a basic account and transfer their income to it so that their income is protected from any possible charges. • Advise clients to set up direct debits or standing orders for their priority payments such as their rent, council tax and utilities. • Cancel any ‘Continuous Payment Authority’ or CPA as it is most commonly known. A CPA is a form of authority that means a creditor can take payments directly via your debit card, without you being present. The way to check this is to go through your bank statement as it won’t appear as a direct debit or standing order.

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33


RENT SPECIAL

Have your work or household circumstances changed? It is important that you keep up your rental payments and let us know your circumstances have changed so we keep the information we hold about you up to date. • Lost your job recently? • Changed your contact details? • The people you live with changed? • Your benefits have changed? The changes may mean that you are entitled to certain benefits. We can advise you what you may be eligible for and help you apply, if you need our help. “Mr & Mrs X were living in a 3 bedroom property with their teenager, they were under occupying by one bedroom and therefore subject to bedroom tax of 14% of their housing benefit award. Both tenants were on Job Seekers allowance meaning

34 www.monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

they had to manage to pay their bills and costs of living plus the bedroom tax on a very low income, this proved a struggle for them and caused their rent arrears to escalate. The tenant called us a few months after they became affected by bedroom tax and advised us that their granddaughter had gone to live with them and they were no longer under occupying. We advised them to contact housing benefit and then they could remove the bedroom tax. Because the couple informed us of their change in circumstances it saved them £13.20 per week.” Tell us so we can help you! Call us on 0345 377 2277. For Universal Credit changes text us on 07538 004 004. Start your text with UC and make sure you leave your name and address.


Struggling to Pay Your Rent? We Can Help - 0345 677 2277

Budget Planner Want help with your budgeting? Citizens Advice has a free planner available. You can also search for their free ‘CAB budget tracker’ app on your android mobile phone. Check out their online budgeting tool at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ debt-and-money/budgeting/budgeting/work-out-your-budget/

Income (weekly/monthly) Wages/salary Wages/salary (partner) Benefits Money from other people Other Total income

£ £ £ £ £ £ £

Outgoings (weekly/monthly) Mortgage/rent Second mortgage/secured loan Ground rent/service charges Buildings/contents insurance Life insurance/endowment Council tax Gas Electricity Water Food/housekeeping Travel Telephone TV licence/rental Clothing/emergencies Prescriptions/health costs Other Total outgoings

£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £

This leaves me an available income of £

for my creditors

Priority debts Type of debt

Money owed

Rent arrears Mortgage/2nd mortgage arrears Council tax arrears Gas arrears Electricity arrears Fines Maintenance arrears Other Total

£ £

Payments negotiated to pay off debts (weekly/ monthly) £ £

£ £ £ £ £ £ £

£ £ £ £ £ £ £

Total payments to priority creditors is £ per month/week. When I have made payments to my for my nonpriority creditors, I have £ priority creditors.

Non-priority debts Debt (fill in name of creditor)

Money owed

Debt Debt Debt Debt Debt Debt Total

£ £ £ £ £ £ £

Offer (weekly/ monthly) £ £ £ £ £ £ £

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35


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Money Matters - Winter 2018  
Money Matters - Winter 2018