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Benefit changes are coming, are you effected? Beware of illegal money lenders

MHA launch the Holistic Energy Advice project – get your free gadgets today Employment & Self employment read about our success stories Fourth Edition - 2012


contents

1.0 Welcome 4

1.1

Farida’s Welcome

5

1.2

Competition Winners

4.0 Moneywise 19

4.1

Money Wise Hellos & Goodbyes Bye to Hayley Sarah’s Message Matt’s Update

2.0 Saving Money

Case Studies 6

2.1

Debt Management Companies

7

2.2

Money Saving Website

8

2.3

Water Use Calculator

10

2.4 2.5

Moneyline Cymru

13

2.6

Money Advice Service

14

2.7

Debt Charity

14

2.8

Credit Reference Agencies

3.0 Older People & Money 15

3.1

Debt Burden for Retired People

16

3.2

Warm Home Front Project

17

3.3

Priority Service Register

3.4

4.2

Managing Money Sessions

21

4.3

New Tenants Visit

21

4.4

Drop In Sessions at Acorn Centre

22

4.5

Holistic Energy Advice Project

23

4.6

Fuel Club

Illegal Money Lending Article

12

18

21

Financial Abuse & the Elderly

5.0 Welfare Reforms 24

5.1

Welfare Benefits Reforms

26

5.2

CAB Project

6.0 Work & Skills Wise 27

6.1

Passport to Office Admin

28

6.2

Volunteering

29

6.3

Passport to Beauty

33

6.4

Working for Me Wye Valley Crafts Elsie Rag Bag Nanny Talk

37

2

6.5

Bursary Scheme


40

7.1

Monmouthshire Training

43

7.2

Way Into Work Project

JOIN OUR PANEL

contents

7.0 Young People & Employment

8.0 Get Involved 44

8.1

Join Our Panel

45

8.2

Research Stats

Fourth Edition 2012

Would you like to be part of the team that puts together this newsletter? If so contact us, you could be helping us work on the very next edition of Money Matters. We look forward to hearing from you!

LIKE THE MONEY MATTERS NEWSLETTER? OR WANT SOME CHANGES? Let us know. We want to take your advice on how we can improve Money Matters, is there anything that we should be covering that we’re not currently covering? We’d love to hear from you.

MHA’S MONEY WISE SERVICE providing

MHA’S WORK & SKILLS WISE service

Money

Promoting Education

Help &

Devloping Experience

Advice

Raising Aspirations

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welcome

1.1 Farida’s Welcome Hello all and welcome to the 4th edition of Money Matters A lot has been happening since our last edition and we are really pleased to be offering you yet another packed edition of Money Matters. Our top feature in this edition includes the launch of our exciting new Holistic Energy Advice project – not sure what that means? Take a look at page 22. and find out. There are free energy gadgets on offer, take advantage! Something more concerning that has come to light in the recent months, is that we have received a number of reports from elderly residents from across the county, who are being taken advantage of, read page 18 and find out more. If you have been in a similar situation, get in touch, we are investigating this and want to see how we can help you. There are lots of “Changes ahead”! You may have received information from us about the changes to the benefit system, in the coming weeks and months you will be hearing a lot more about these changes. Pg 24 includes a section dedicated to this providing you with help and support to understand these changes. Our Money Wise service has been very busy listening to a number of you who are experiencing problems with paying your debt, we explain in this edition how if you have borrowed money from an illegal money lender, it is likely that you don’t have to pay your debt back– take a look at page 10.

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Also our Work and Skills Wise Service is having some excellent results turn to page 27 - 39 and be inspired why not learn and new skills, get a new job and see how we can help. In our last edition we asked you to provide us with feedback on what your thoughts were on our Money Wise and Work and Skills Wise services. We were overwhelmed with your fantastic responses and pg 45 highlights some of the responses that we have had from you. These responses will now help us shape the services that we offer to you in the coming weeks and months. Finally, we received record responses to our last edition competition and one lucky winner received £100 and a number of runners up received £10! Don’t forget to participate in this edition’s competition, you could be our next lucky winner – turn to the contents page and find out about this edition’s competition. Hope you enjoy this edition, until next time bye for now!


Winners of Word search Competition 2011 Edition

competition winners

1.2 Competition Winners

Congratulations to Mrs James of Usk who successfully completed the word search and the Money Matters questionnaire. Mrs James is pictured here with Lucia our Customer Service Advisor at MHA with a cheque worth £100. There were a number of other runners up who also received a cheque worth £10 so congratulations to them all. The runners up were:

Mr Cashman • Mr Buxton • Mrs Northam Mrs Langdon • Mr McCarthy Mrs Parton • Mr K Ciccone Mr & Mrs Bateman Mrs Chandler Miss Jenkins • Mr Pszczola

If you want to feature in our next newsletter and be the lucky winner of this editions competition please complete the word search at the back of this newsletter and answer the following question: How many times has the word “Work” been mentioned in this newsletter? Please remember to qualify for your prize you must send the correct answer with the completed word search at the back of this newsletter. The winner will receive £50 – the cheques will be made payable to the Credit Union if you do not have a Credit union account MHA can help you set up one.

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Saving Money Section

2.1 Beware of Debt Management Companies Some tenants experiencing debt problems have turned to Debt Management Companies (DMC) to consolidate their loans and pay a single installment either once a month or once a week. Whilst this may sound like a good idea, this incurs a fee, which can be around £150.

So what are Debt Management Companies? Debt management companies are organisations who negotiate with lenders on behalf of tenants and residents.

How do they operate? Some DMC’s will charge their clients a fee, while others will finance their activities in other ways.

What services can Debt Management Companies provide you? • Help you with budgeting • Providing advice on negotiating with your lenders • Negotiating with lenders on your behalf • Handle all paperwork and phone calls • Renegotiating with your lenders when necessary.

What are the problems associated with Debt Management Companies? 129 DMC’s were warned over 2 years ago to change the way they worked. The problems they were asked to address included: • providing sound financial advice to service users, • providing up front advice and information about charges of the services Following this warning and the failure to make necessary changes over 60 debt management companies have had their licenses taken from them by the Office of Fair Trading this is the organization that regulates this service industry.

What is the solution?

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There are a number of advice providers who provide the same advice for free, such as the National Debt Helpline, and the Housing Debt Helpline and, the MHA Income and Energy Advisors who as part of the Money Wise service at MHA can also help you to access these services.

If you are struggling with debt call: Housing debt help line – 0800 107 1340 National debt help line - 0808 808 4000 Or MHA Money Wise Team – 01495 761116 Remember – Beware! Debt management companies will charge you. Free advice is available, access it!


Travel costs Do high petrol prices cause you concern? Why not log on to www.petrolprices.com and find out the cheapest petrol station in your area. The website is free to use and requires you to log on and register.

Car share schemes: One of the easiest ways to reduce petrol costs is to use your car less, to help you do this you may want to consider being part of a car share schemes. Car share schemes can help you to connect to friends or colleagues who are looking to plan the same journey as you. The website Liftshare allows you to search other people who are planning to take the same journey as you, to find out more log on to www.liftshare.com/uk

Free goods –Isn’t it time you freecycled?

items for free in their local towns. It’s all about reusing goods and keeping reusable goods out of landfills. To join the Freecycle movements membership is free and the service is easy to use. To find out how to use the service log on to the website www.freecycle.org and see what you can offer and see if there anything you want!

Saving Money Section

2.2 Money Saving Website

Freecycle fact: Freecycle are currently keeping over 500 tons a day out of landfills! This amounts to five times the height of Mt. Everest in the past year alone!!! If you find the tips useful but can’t use a computer – contact us and we can help you get enrolled on to a free basic computer course which can teach you how to use the internet! Call Robyne on 01495 761007 for further information.

Freecycle is a local movement of people who are giving and receiving

Keeping tabs on your money Money Basics Spendometer Keeping track of your money Download this useful tool to manage your money on your mobile Keeping tabs on your money couldn’t be easier. A new money basics Spendometer is currently available to download on your smart phone – you can do this by visiting www.spendometer.co.uk

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Saving Money Section

2.3 Water use calculator Saving money on your water bills With fuel bills so high at the moment we need to make every effort to save money where we can. Using less water can save you a lot of money. Water companies are pulling together their drought plans because of low rainfall, although this has changed somewhat recently it is never the less important that we all do our bit to help the situation. Here we refer to a number of tips to save water inside and outside your home.

Dump the tub Taking a shower as opposed to a bath uses less water - if everybody in a family of four replaces one bath a week with a five-minute shower, they would be able to save up to £18 a year on gas bills and up to £21 on water bills (if you have a water meter).

Change your head The type of shower head you use matters - If a family of four replace their inefficient shower head with a water-efficient one they could save around £72 off their gas bills and around £72 off their water bills (if they have a water meter) each year. That’s a total saving of £150! As an MHA tenant you can take advantage of our Energy Advice project we can offer you free Shower Save gadgets which will help reduce your energy bills call the Money Wise Team today! 8

Fill them up! Use your dishwasher & washing machines to their maximum potential. To do this make sure that dishwashers and washing machines are full before you use them, and always use the most efficient water and energy settings. When it’s time to replace your appliance, look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo: products with this logo will save both energy and water.

Suds law Using a sink of water to wash up twice a day rather than having the hot tap running could save around £34 a year on your gas bill and around £25 on your water bill (if you have a water meter). If you need to rinse utensils or wash vegetables, use cold water if possible and don’t leave the tap running!


Make it go further Try to reuse unused water: for example, pour leftover glasses of water on houseplants and avoid wasting water from running taps while waiting for hot water.

Saving Money Section

2.3 Water use calculator

Get your butt in gear

Go off the boil Kettles use a lot of electricity, so try not to boil water you won’t use: most kettles can boil as little as a mugful. This could save you around £7 a year on energy bills. If everyone in the UK did this, we could save enough electricity in a year to power the UK’s street lights for one month.

Turn it off A running tap wastes more than six litres of water a minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face - and use cold water if you don’t need hot.

Your roof collects tens of thousands of litres of water each year, but it runs straight into the drains. Collect it in a water butt and you can use it to water your garden and wash your car. There’s a bonus: rainwater is softer than tap water, so it’s better for plants - use it for your houseplants too!

Bucket the trend Avoid jet washes and energy-wasting car washes. Wash your car using a good old bucket and sponge, preferably using water from your water butt. If you have found this information useful log on to the Energy Saving Trust for more advice and tips http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Don’t be a drip A dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year, so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip. 9


Saving Money Section

2.4 Illegal money lending What is a loan shark?

How to spot a loan shark

A loan shark is an unlicensed moneylender. Licensed moneylenders are regulated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and must follow the OFT’s codes of practice. Because they’re not licensed, loan sharks operate outside the law. If you borrow from them it’s likely you’ll:

Loan sharks will often:

• get a loan on very bad terms • pay an extortionate rate of interest (rates as high as 131,000% APR have been recorded) • be harassed if you get behind with your repayments • be pressured into borrowing more from them to repay one debt with another

• start out being friendly - their behaviour only changes when repayments are missed • offer little or no paperwork • increase the debt or add additional amounts • refuse to give the borrower vital information, such as the interest rate or how much they still owe • take items as security - for example, passports, bank cards or driving licences • resort to intimidation, threats or violence

If you have borrowed from an illegal money lender, you haven’t committed a crime - they have, and they could receive a prison sentence.

What to do if you have borrowed from a loan shark Loan sharks sometimes frighten people by saying they’ll be prosecuted and even sent to prison if they don’t pay up. This can’t happen – an unlicensed lender has no legal right to recover the debt. Remember ! If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, there’s no legal obligation for you to pay them back. You can report a loan shark in confidence to the Illegal Money Lending Team.

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call 0300 123 3311 send an email to imlu@cardiff.gov.uk


The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit is Helping Victims The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit has helped many vulnerable people. Read what one victim experienced until she sought help from the unit: “I’m a single mother of five children on income support. When I moved into a new home and needed to buy things for the house I went to a man on the estate that I knew lent money to people and asked him for a loan. He asked how much and I said £500. He told me that I had to pay back £1,000 and pay him £100 per week. I said yes and he gave me the money straight away. I’ve asked him for a payment book and how much I still owe but he won’t tell me. I have been paying him for four years and he says if I stop paying he will send someone round to get it. I’ve thought about moving but he says if I move he’ll find me. I saw an advert for the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit so called them and they said they could help me.”

Loan sharks can damage families

The team were able to support and reassure them restructuring their finance gaining benefit and providing safe accommodation through witness protection initially. Once the two loan sharks were arrested and then convicted they have been able to rebuild their lives.

Saving SavingMoney MoneySection Section

2.4 Illegal money lending

With the fear removed the wife has become stronger and not reliant on anti-depressants at all. The husband has been able to build his links with friends and associates to start a new self employed job to support his wife and son. After the conviction at court the victims said: “We could never have got to this position without you. We cannot remember the last time we have been this happy and get on with our lives. If you think where we were when we first come to you to where we are now, it’s unbelievable. We can’t thank you enough”.

Remember if you suspect you’ve been approached by a loan shark or you think you have borrowed money from one call the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit on 0300 123 3311 – they can help you.

A family had paid £120,000 to loan sharks and had to sell their home, vehicle and possessions, as well as loaning from their immediate family to meet the repayment. The husband was unable to work due to the intimidation and his wife became severely depressed and suicidal. With a 2 year old child as well, the family as a unit were falling apart.

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Saving Money Section

2.5 Moneyline Cymru Moneyline Cymru offer loans, saving accounts, basic bank accounts for families who are on low incomes and benefits. Moneyline Cymru have branches throughout South Wales in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend, Cwmbran and Pontypridd and also provide a telephone loan service on 0845 643 1553. The below table shows how much it costs for a typical loan with MoneylineCymru in comparison to a typical door step lender. On average you could be paying up to £123 more per loan. Typical illustration as of printing date: 01 March 2012.

Loan

Moneyline Cymru are also working with the Cooperative Society providing competitively priced electrical goods and furniture to our customers; such as laptops, TV, DVDs, iPods, PS3 and xbox console, please ask at the branch for further details or phone 0845 643 1553. • Direct access to web priced electrical goods and beds. • Fast, efficient free delivery – Normally within 48 hours, with free unpacking, quality check and removal of packaging for recycling. • Free removal and recycling of an old appliance if disconnected prior to delivery.

Representative* Weeks Weekly Total APR Payment Amount Payable

Moneyline £300.00 Cymru

113.26%

52

£7.79

£423.08

Typical Doorstep Lender

272.2%

52

£10.50

£546.00

£300.00

To take advantage of the services Moneyline Cymru offer pop into your local MoneylineCymru office either in: Newport – 56 Bridge Street, Newport, NP20 4BL Tel: 01633 258233

Cwmbran – 6 The Arcade, Cwmbran Shopping

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Centre, NP44 1PQ

Tel: 01633 877123 OR Ring our telephone service on 0845 643 1553.


The Money Advice Service is here to help everyone manage their money better. They do this by giving clear, unbiased money advice to help people make informed choices. The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. They were set up by government and are funded by a levy on the financial services industry. Because they’re not selling anything you can trust their advice. They can help with a wide range of money issues including: • helping you to manage your budget, • provide independent advice about savings and borrowing money • advice about pensions and planning for the future • advice about managing debt • how to manage money as a parent; through maternity and adoption or planning to support a child’s education • what to consider if you are going through a divorce or separation

Saving Money Section

2.6 Money Advice Service

You can access the service by: logging on to their website www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or by calling them on their Money Advice Line 0300 500 5000* Monday to Friday - 8am to 6pm (excluding bank holidays) (Typetalk 18001 0300 500 5000*) (*Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. However, if you are worried about the cost of the phone call because you have don’t have a call plan that includes these calls for free, please ask the Money Adviser to call you back.)

The website also has a range of tools and planners to help you with day to day decisions around managing your money better.

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Saving Money Section

2.7 Extended times of debt charity Debt Charity Expands the Availability of its Services Debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) has extended its helpline opening hours to include 9am to 3pm Saturdays and calls from UK mobile phones will now be free. The charity identified a clear demand for telephone advice at the weekend, and a high proportion of clients (25%) calling from mobile phones.

The CCCS free phone helpline 0800 138 1111 is open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am to 3pm on Saturday. CCCS Debt Remedy is available at www.cccs.co.uk

In addition to its extended freephone helpline availability, CCCS continues to offer free debt advice via its innovative online debt counselling tool, Debt Remedy, which is available 24 hours a day.

2.8 Experian & credit reference agencies Did you know when applying for credit a creditor may check with credit reference agencies and find out your history of payments on other debts? Experian and Credit reference agencies

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Your statutory credit report details your credit history. It contains public and private information recorded in your name and is available to authorised lenders carrying out a credit check through Experian. Credit reports are used by lenders to help them in making decisions about whether to give you credit or not.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, Experian are permitted to charge a non-refundable fee of ÂŁ2 each time you request access to your statutory credit report. You can apply for your statutory credit report either online or by post. When completing your application form, you will need to supply all your previous addresses from the past 6 years. Please ensure you have your full address details, including codes, when applying to make the process quicker. For more information on Experian please contact Matthew Taylor on 07792596915.


The Debt Burden for Welsh Retired People A recent report conducted by retirement income specialist MGM Advantage found that retired people in Wales have the highest debt levels in Britain, owing up to £13,857 on average. The collective personal debt owned by this group amounts to £6.86 billion. A spokesman from Age Cymru has spoken out about pensioners living in poverty and estimated that about £5.5bn goes unclaimed in benefits by older people. Helping retired people claim the right benefits will help lift the debt burden and reduce pensioner’s poverty.

If you are concerned about your finances, please contact your Income and Energy Advisor. They will be able to determine whether you are receiving the money you should be, help you with any claims for benefits or help you with money saving ideas and using energy more efficiently.

3.2 warm home front project

3.1 Debt burden for retired people

Call us on 0845 677 2277 and ask for Matt Taylor or Sarah Jones. (Remember state benefits are not charity or a handout from the government they are for those who qualify to the entitlement).

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OLDER PEOPLE & MONEY

The Warm Home Discount The Warm Home Discount Scheme offers help to older people with energy costs. The scheme has been running for four years now. It is open to applications every winter. To qualify for this energy discount you need to be receiving the Guarantee Credit element only of Pension Credit, or if you are aged 80 or over and are receiving the Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit elements of Pension Credit you may be entitled. If you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount, it is likely to save you up to £120 of your energy bills. Matt Taylor, from MHA’s Money Wise team met with 28 tenants during the last year to help specifically with claiming the Warm Home Discount., Matt managed to save £3360 collectively for these residents who were unaware of this scheme and as a result, it was a great help to their financial expenditure.

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To see if you qualify and for more information on the Warm Home Discount please contact Matthew Taylor on 07792596915.


The Priority Services Register is a free service you can join which allows you access to free services from your energy suppliers if you meet any of the following criteria: • You are of pensionable age • You have a disability • You have a hearing and/or visual impairment • You have a long-term ill-health Energy suppliers are obliged to offer a range of free services to their most vulnerable customers.

Joining the Priority Services Register entitles you to free services such as a personal password system for gas and electricity staff to use every time they call at your home to confirm they are genuine, help in moving a meter if it is in an inconvenient position, help if you have difficulty in using certain appliances and you can have your bills sent to a friend or family member on your behalf.

If you would like to join the Priority Services Register or if you would like to register a family member, there are three ways to join. You can contact your Gas or Electricity supplier directly, you can contact Energywatch who are part of Consumer Focus, the statutory consumer champion for England and Wales on 08459 060708 or by registering online at www.energywatch.org.uk.

3.2 warm home front project

3.3 Priority service register

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OLDER PEOPLE & MONEY 18

3.4 Financial abuse & the elderly A number of residents have been in touch from across the county in relation to concerns around financial abuse. In these cases what we have found is that the elderly are being targeted using a scheme whereby help with shopping and paying bills is offered. In these cases residents have handed over a shopping list and money and in most cases received the goods, and bills have been paid and received, but in some cases residents are left short changed or are pressurized into giving money for the tasks that they thought they were receiving free of charge.

This type of abuse is often being perpetrated by people know by the residents or even family members – which often means it is really difficult to deal with. Age Cymru a charity which supports the elderly have recognized this as an issue and are offering free advice on such matters. To find out more please see overleaf the Age Cymru financial advocacy project information. Alternatively if you would like to discuss matters such as this with a staff member in MHA in confidence please do so, please call Robyne Squire on 01495 761007, and we will help to signpost you to the right support.


We have sadly had to say our goodbyes to Hayley D’Alessio one of MHA’s Money Wise’s first Income and Energy Advisor. Hayley has moved to West Wales to a new job and to be closer to her partner, we wish her all the best. We have recently appointed a new Income and Energy Advisor to replace Hayley called Sarah Jones. Sarah introduces herself below.

Sarah’s Message

Matt’s Update

“Hi, my name is Sarah and I’ve recently started as the new Income and Energy Advisor. Before joining Monmouthshire Housing Association I worked as an energy and sustainability advisor. Whilst doing this job I helped a lot of tenants to save money, and hope to do the same in this role.

Hi all,

I will be working in and around Monmouth and Abergavenny, so if you need any help with claiming benefits, budgeting & managing money, opening bank and saving accounts or comparing utility providers, then give me a call to see if we can help you on: 07725 824800 / 01495 767181”.

Money wise

4.1 Money Wise hellos and goodbyes

This year has been a busy year for me; I have had a number of you contact me from the south of the county, and have really enjoyed helping you. With Christmas around the corner I am able to offer one to one budgeting sessions on how to save for Christmas and I am offering help with opening up Christmas saving accounts, for example if you open a saving account now with the Credit Union, this will put you in a good position to get a loan at Christmas with them if you need. Give me a ring on 07792596915 / 01495 767182 – I’m here to help.

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Money wise

Case Studies MONEY WISE SUCCESSES The below are two case studies of where our Income and Energy Advisors have received a positive outcome for the tenants.

Mr & Mrs X

Mrs Y

Mr and Mrs X’s Neighbourhood Officer made a referral to Money Wise team for advice as their benefit had been stopped, and they were struggling with their finances.

Mrs Y contacted the Money Wise team after her partner passed away, sorting through her finances was understandably the last thing on her mind. Within weeks however the creditors where chasing Mrs Y for debts worth over £9,000.

Having considered the matter the Money Wise team supported the tenants in conducting an appeal to reinstate their benefits. Mr and Mrs X were highly distressed with having no income and the potential of having to pay back benefits which they were previously entitled to. Working alongside the Neighbourhood officer, the Money Wise team highlighted the facts of the appeal to the Department of Work and Pensions. The appeal was a success and benefits were reinstated.

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The Money Wise team after searching through Mrs Y’s paperwork realised that the £9,000 worth of debts left behind were all taken out under Mr Y’s name. Clearly distressed Mrs Y believed that the debt would be left for her to pay. The team explained that as the debt that was left in her deceased partners it is unlikely that she would need to pay. The team made arrangements to contact all creditors and for them to stop pursuing Mrs Y for the debt. This matter has now been resolved and Mrs Y is no longer being chased for this debt. Mrs Y was very relieved by the outcome of the teams work. The team then assisted Mrs Y by carrying out a benefit check which allowed the team to discover that she was not receiving housing benefit. A successful application was made for this and Mrs Y is now receiving her full benefits, so an excellent outcome all round.


Money wise

4.2 Managing Money Sessions

The managing money advice sessions are offered to all tenants and residents of Monmouthshire for advice and support on how to manage their money more effectively. The aim of the course is to provide tenants with an understanding of how to manage your finances effectively by using a budget sheet. These sessions will allow you to understand how to budget, what a priority debt is and what a non-priority debt is. These sessions will last for 3 hours with tea, coffee, childcare and travel costs provided. We can offer further sessions on how to count the costs of running your home and how to reduce your fuel bills. Call 01495 761 116 to speak with David Rawlings further advice.

4.3 New Tenants Visit If you are a new tenant you should have received a visit within two weeks of moving into your new property from the Income and Energy advisors. If you have not yet had a visit call today to speak with Matt if you live in the south of the county or Sarah in the north of the county and make sure you get the right advice to help you settle into your property. The team can make sure that you are claiming the right benefits, that you know where to go to access an affordable loan and much more. We look forward to hearing from you.

4.4 Drop in sessions at Acorn Centre The Money Wise team will be offering free advice sessions at the Acorn Centre in Deri View, Abergavenny, starting in September. Please contact the Acorn centre on 01873 735014, or call the Money Wise team on 01495 761116. (All advice provided by the Money Wise team is free and confidential).

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Money wise

4.5 Holistic Energy Advice P roject MHA launch their Holistic Energy advice project MHA’s Money Wise team has launched an exciting new holistic energy advice project to help you save money off your bills. This project aims to provide you with advice and support on benefits debt, in depth energy advice and also employment and skills advice. In a nutshell the project is your gateway to the Work and Skills Wise, Money Wise service whilst also offering you an in-depth focus on energy advice. To do this MHA has joined forces with the Energy Saving Trust and will be offering free advice sessions on how to save money on your energy cost. As part of this service MHA will be providing:

• Free energy saving DVD to all residents who engage with the project. • Free gadgets such as power down points • Free shower flow gadgets and • Free energy saving light bulbs. To get your free energy DVD and free energy saving gadgets, find out about benefits and reductions fuel traffic and employment and skills advice, contact the Money Wise team on 01495 761116 for an appointment and start saving money on your energy bills, get the right advice on benefits and gain skills and progress into a new job today.

ic MHA’s holist e energy advic ing up project – join upport advice and s fit of for the bene and MHA tenants . service users

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Holistic energy advice project is for all even those on oil or solid fuel. MHA are considering the potential of helping tenants to develop Fuel Clubs. MHA as part of the Holistic Energy Advice project have been offering resident’s advice on energy bill, but those of you that use solid fuel and oil are not receiving advice and support which you chould be. To this end MHA will be setting up fuel clubs to help drive down the prices of oil and other fuel, so residents that are off the gas mains can also benefit.

MHA will be looking to work with residents who use oil and solid fuel to measure demand for this service and to ascertain if a potential fuel club could be set up, allowing residents of Monmouthshire to bulk buy fuel at reduced prices, putting money back into residents’ pocket.

Money wise

4.6 Fuel Club

If you are interested in this please contact Sarah Jones for further information on 07725 824800 / 01495 767181

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welfare reforms

5.1 Welfare benefits reforms Welfare Benefit Reforms and the way they may affect your rent commitments Welfare Benefit Reforms are the Government attempts to simplify the benefit system and reduce the amount of money that the Government pays out in benefits. Some but not all of these will have a direct impact on your ability to meet your rent commitments. Listed below are the changes that will affect the rent management of MHA tenants.

Non dependent deductions: • These were introduced in April 2011 and affect those non dependents aged under 25 who are living at home with you. • The scale of non dependent deductions is phased and households will see annual deductions in their housing benefit each April until 2014. • You will be expected to make up the increasing shortfall between the benefit you receive and your rent • Monmouthshire Housing Association will seek to identify people affected by these proposals and inform prospective tenants at an early stage in their tenancy of the u may If you feel yo likely affect this will have on them. y Non be affected b eductions Dependent D r Money please call ou n Wise Team o for 01495 761116 support.

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welfare reforms

Under Occupation • The proposal is to limit housing benefit to the size of accommodation considered to meet your needs from 1 April 2013. • This is for households of working age only. • You will have to choose either to make good the shortfall or move to a different property that better reflects the size and composition of the household. Again if you feel you will be affected by this change call the Money Wise team on 01495 761116

Universal Credit • This is the biggest change that you will face if you are in receipt of benefits. • Universal Credit will be the name of the benefit that will be paid in future. The aim is to combine all benefits and tax credit (including jobseekers allowance, housing benefit, income support and unemployment support allowance) into one universal support payment called Universal Credit. • This is programmed for implementation over the next four years starting in October 2013. • Significant numbers of households will come off incapacity benefit and income support many people will be expected to undergo stringent medical tests. • If you have failed your medical test and need support to conduct an appeal please contact Matt Taylor on 01495 767182 in you live in the South of the County and Sarah Jones on 01495 761181 if you live in the North.

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welfare reforms

5.2 CAB project

Did you know about CAB’s Housing & Council Tax Benefit Project? To help with the Changes ahead the CAB are offering a new project to the residents of Monmouthshire – read below to find out more. As part of this project the CAB will be supporting residents of Monmouthshire with ensuing that they have in place the correct entitlements to Housing & Council Tax benefits. The CAB will also help residents make claims for Discretionary Housing payments for those that qualify. The CAB will also help with claiming other benefits. To book an appointment with Benefits Adviser Darren Williams please call 07580 400 106 or 08444 772020

The advisor will be available at the following times and days in the Citizens Advice Bureau:-

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Abergavenny

Chepstow

19 a&b Cross St, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 5EW Fridays 10-4pm

The Gate House, High St, Chepstow Monmouthshire, NP16 5LH Thursdays 10-4pm

Monmouth

Caldicot

23a Whitecross St, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 3BY Tuesdays 10-4pm

5A Church Rd, Caldicot, Monmouthshire, NP26 4BP Wednesdays 10-4pm


Passport to office admin MHA is looking for people that are interested in working in an office environment. In the coming weeks we will be offering our residents the opportunity to undertake a free course and consider working in an office environment. If you have never worked in an office but would like to receive a qualification to put on your CV to help you towards your first job in an office, this course could be just what you need.

This free course is open to working age residents of MHA. It will give you an understanding of the skills you need to work in an office and also offer some practical work experience.

WORK & SKILLS WISE

6.1 Passport to office admin

To find out more please contact Jade West MHA’s Work and Skills Wise officer on: 01495 761015 Remember, with the government pushing for people to get back into work – this may be an ideal opportunity and the step in the right direction, ring us on 01495 761116 to find out more.

MHA ucation, Promoting ed developing nd experience a tion. raising aspira

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WORK & SKILLS WISE

6.2 Volunteering MHA volunteering scheme has now gone live! Anyone interested in volunteering at Monmouthshire housing to help gain skills and develop their CVs, can now benefit from our volunteering scheme. We can offer a range of opportunities in the following teams:

Corporate service team

Resources team

This team covers corporate governance, marketing and media relations.

This team covers area such as Finance, Human resources function and IT services.

Property Services team This team covers areas such as property development and property maintenance.

If you are interested in volunteering in any of these teams or want more information contact the Robyne Squire on 01495 761007 for an application pack.

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Housing & Communities team This team covers housing management and rent recovery, customer services, repairs, tenant involvement/ inclusion, regeneration, anti social behavior and housing allocation and waiting list.


As part of MHA Work and Skills Wise service we teamed up with Charter Housing to offer a project to help residents become self employed. In our last Money Matters edition we covered the scheme and what we were able to offer, in the form of the Passport to Beauty project, where we trained a number of women to become mobile beauty therapist.

In this edition we provide you with a snap shot of the journey of the 3 beauty therapist that trained, how they found the journey and how they are moving forward.

WORK & SKILLS WISE

6.3 Passport to Beauty

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work & skills wise

Emma’s Story What made you apply to PTB course? I was at a dead end but am full of ambition and really wanted to do something work wise and personally. This also fitted in perfectly with my home life.

Emma

How high would you rank the importance of having a job that works around your family life/ personal circumstances? It is 100% important. My Son is always my priority. I’ve always wanted to work but to live to work not work to live. You do need to have the balance between family and work. What does being financially independent mean to you? Everything. It means I have got the opportunity to get what I want in life, whatever that may be, and be able to provide a future for my family. How or has this opportunity changed your life? Before I felt quite lonely and down sometimes. Mainly because I wanted to work but felt I was unable to due to lack of opportunity and my personal circumstances. It has helped to make me happier and more confident to go out and achieve something else in now. What is the name of your business, what do you offer and where are you based?

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My business is called ‘Beautiful’ and I offer manicure, pedicure, acrylic nails and spray tans. I would like to develop into more holistic services in the future such as Indian head massage, Reiki, etc. I am based in Llanfoist and can be contacted on 07779 908738.


What made you apply to PTB course? The chance to be qualified and work as a self-employed independent person and work around the family. I was also interested as I was aware from other people that the beauty industry hadn’t been hit too badly by the economic climate.

Sara

How high would you rank the importance of having a job that works around your family life/personal circumstances? Very important. When you are mobile and independent you can work but juggle things around to fit in with your family.

6.3 work work & skills & skiills wise wise support

Sara’s Story

What does being financially independent mean to you? It means freedom more than anything. There’s nothing like the confidence of a full wallet. It will also improve our lifestyle as a family and we’ll be able to go out and do a lot more. How or has this opportunity changed your life? I have grown in confidence and it has made me hungry to learn and I am open to go down avenues and try things that I wouldn’t normally have done. Also I wouldn’t have met Lenni who is now a very good friend and she does wonders for my confidence. What is the name of your business, what do you offer and where are you based? My business is called ‘Tips N Toes’ and I am based in Llanarth, nr Raglan. At present I offer manicure, pedicure, acrylic nails and spray tans but will shortly be offering more services. I can be contacted on 07427 562957.

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WORK & sKILL

Lenni’s Story What made you apply to PTB course? Because I really enjoy the beauty industry and it also appealed as it enabled me to work around my children. How high would you rank the importance of having a job that works around your family life/personal circumstances? Very important. My family will always come first but in order for them to come first I am aware I need money to support them. What does being financially independent mean to you? It will mean being able to look after my family and care for them. It will be nice to be able to treat the kids, and sometimes myself, with the knowledge that the bills are being paid. How or has this opportunity changed your life? It has helped with my confidence as it’s been a while since I’ve had regular interaction with adults as my life revolved around my 3 children. My new confidence has also helped us a family.

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What is the name of your business, what do you offer and where are you based? My business is called ‘Mystiques Beauty Treats ‘ and I offer manicure, pedicure, acrylic nails and spray tans. I am looking to offer a lot more in the near future after some further training. I am based in Abergavenny and can be contacted on 01873 737949 / 07774 930496.

Lenni


Have you ever thought that you have an idea or a talent that you could turn into a money spinner? Have you ever thought that you could be your own boss? Have you ever struggled to find work that means that you can earn money and meet your caring commitments to your family?

wORK & sKILLS wISE

6.4 Working for me

Are you currently unemployed and want to start earning, but you are finding that your responsibilities to your children or other people you care for is making it difficult to find work? Or if you have been unable to find work but feel that you have a talent or service to offer that people would want to use? We may be able to help you. Working for Me is a project available through Work and Skills Wise providing support to become self employed. Over the past year our tenants who have been involved in the project have had some real successes.

33


work & skills wise

Ann She’s a Card We caught up with Ann Blackaby, an MHA tenant from Devauden, at a recent event in Llandogo. Ann was at the event with her stall where she sells her beautifully crafted hand-made cards. Ann has been making her own cards for about 4 or 5 years but it has only been in the last year that she has decided to run her own stall with the help and support of Wye Valley Crafts. ‘I decided to do this following my retirement last August,’ said Ann, ‘and now I’m really enjoying my second career.’

34

You can find out more about Ann’s work through Wye Valley Crafts based at the Abbey Mill in Tintern or online at www.wyevalleycrafts.co.uk. You can also pick up Ann’s creations at her local store in Devauden.


Louise Bendon is an MHA tenant and offers first class haberdashery. Louise is the proprietor of Elsie Rag Bag and creates bespoke fabric goods from her own designs. Her exquisite collection of cushions, blankets, tea cosies and various other items are hand made from vintage materials and each product is individual. These are the perfect one-off gifts for friends and family or for putting your own unique stamp on your home. Louise’s website is well worth a visit, whatever the occasion.

WORK & SKILLS WISE

Louise is in the Rag Trade Louise has been working with MHA and ‘Centre for Business’ on developing her empire and ensuring that Elsie Rag Bag soon becomes a household name. Take a look at the fantastic collection at www.elsieragbag.co.uk or look out for the Elsie Rag Bag stall in Monmouth every 3rd Sat of the month.

35


work & skills wise

Debbie Debbie Darnborough is an MHA tenant and also the founder of Nanny-Talk. Nanny-Talk is a Monmouthshire based nanny service specialising in the placement of nannies (full, or part time or temporary) and babysitters. The agency covers Monmouthshire, Torfaen and the surrounding areas. Debbie says ‘All of our nannies are thoroughly reference and criminal records checked (CRB), allowing us to offer the highest quality services, ensuring parents have peace of mind and their children are happy and safe.’

So if you are a family in need of a childcare solution or you are looking for work in a home or nursery environment then please contact Debbie at: Singleton Court Business Park, Wonastow Road, Monmouth, NP25 5JA E-mail: nanny-talk@hotmail.co.uk Website: www.nanny-talk.co.uk Tel: 07928545674

Are you feeling inspired by these success stories?

36

Why not contact Jade the Work and Skill Wise officer at MHA, we work closely with the Centre for Business and can help to point you in the right direction-call us today on 01495 761116


MHA’s BURSARY SCHEME We also as part of our Work and Skill Wise service offer a bursary to help kick start business and help with training cost; we include some comments and interview from tenants that have benefited from the bursary scheme.

WORK & SKILLS WISE

6.5 Bursary scheme

Bursary awarded for Kay’s training What made you apply to MHA for the bursary?

What does being financially independent mean to you?

To help me get a job, sort myself out and get my feet on the ground. I always wanted to get into beauty but had various barriers and never got round to it.

Everything quite simply.

How high would you rank the importance of having a job that works around your family life/ personal circumstances? High, because having my own business means I am flexible to work around my daughter and her school hours. Doing another job would mean being rigid.

How or has this opportunity changed your life? It’s given me the chance to work and earn my own money and be independent. This will also change my daughter’s life for the better. What is the name of your business, what do you offer and where are you based? My business is called ‘Kay’s Cuticles’ and I am based in Llandogo, nr Monmouth. The services I offer are: nail extensions, nail repairs, manicures, pedicures and nail art. I can be contacted on 07427 562957.

37


work & skills wise

Lisa Beaumont – bursary awarded for European computer driving license. What made you apply for the bursary?

What did this mean to you?

Due to my health I was unable to carry on with current profession, (I was a chef), with that and the fact that I now needed and wanted to broaden my horizons, it was a case of trying to find something new and relevant. I felt that computers and computer training was something that I could probably get into, which would help me get a job in the long run.

It meant a great deal because if I didn’t get the bursary help from MHA I wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay for the course. Has this changed anything for you going forward? Yes, a great deal, I have started getting qualifications– once I am fully recovered then I can start focusing on getting a job.

A Mitchell – awarded bursary awarded for help towards setting up child minding business. Miss Mitchell had the following comments in respect of her award for the bursary: “I am in the process of starting up my

38

own childminding business and MHA have provided me with the funds to purchase a printer. The printer is vital to the application process as I need to print policies and contracts. I would like to say thank you to MHA for the help and encouragement I have received”.


Mike

KAREN

WORK & SKILLS WISE

Mike Knight & Karen Riley are awarded their certificate

Both Mike Knight and Karen Riley have been actively involved in building their skills and enrolled on a number of courses with MHA and Monmouthshire Community Adult Education. We would like to congratulate both Mike and Karen on their success and their determination. If you want help with setting up your own business or want to apply for a bursary to help towards training or equipment please contact Robyne on Work and Skills Wise team on 01495 761116 to find out how you can apply. 39


young people & employment

7.1 Monmouthshire Training Work Based Learning Opportunities in Monmouthshire Monmouthshire Training are offering a number of opportunities to help residents of Monmouthshire find employment read below to discover more!

Steps to Employment Our Steps to Employment programme is a new learning programme for unemployed adults aged 18 years and over in Wales. It aims to help those adults who are in receipt of benefits to access training and work experience opportunities. The programme can include work placements, community projects, voluntary work and centre-based learning. This programme will enable the learner to achieve recognised qualifications. Steps to Employment will give you the support, skills and qualifications you need to progress into employment, an Apprenticeship or to go into further learning.

40

The programme is designed to meet the needs of each individual; therefore it will take as long as is right for you. Each learner must attend a minimum of 16 hours or more in any seven day period.

You will continue to receive your benefit and may also be entitled to receive a training premium. You can discuss this further with your Jobcentre Plus advisor. Learners may also be eligible to receive a contribution towards travel costs in excess of ÂŁ5.00 per week. Childcare support is also available to lone parents, provided that the provision is through a registered or accredited provider.

What do I need to do next? Jobcentre Plus staff play a major role in referring adult learners to Steps to Employment through Monmouthshire and Torfaen Training. To find out more go to your local Jobcentre Plus office.


Our Traineeship programme is for young people aged 16-17 in Wales; although some individuals aged 18 may be eligible who have left school or college. It is designed to give you the skills you need to get a job or progress to further learning at a higher level such as an Apprenticeship or Further Education. Also, the learning development undertaken will look impressive to employers.

young people & employment

Traineeships

Our Traineeships are split into three different levels to make sure that you get the support and encouragement you need to progress:

1

Engagement

2

Level 1

3

Bridge to Employment

1 Engagement level This is for you if you are not sure what you want to do for a career. It will prepare you for the world of work or full-time learning. It might include work placements, community projects or training at the premises of your place of learning to help get you ready. It can also help when you have been offered a job.

2 Level 1 If you know what career you want to get involved in then this level is for you. At this level you would be expected to be ready and able to undertake full-time learning. This level can include work placements, community projects and training, you may do all of this while you do an NVQ or other qualifications in the subject you have chosen. right for you. Each learner must attend a minimum of 16 hours or more in any seven day period. 41


young people & employment

3 Bridge to Employment level The Bridge to Employment level is for you if you are ready for full-time employment, have completed the level 1 option and are still eligible for this programme. If you start on the Engagement level you will be paid an allowance of £30 if you progress to other levels you should be paid a minimum of £50 a week, this is reduced for part-time attendance. You may also be able to claim travel expenses over £5 a week. You can also claim childcare costs and other support (you can discuss this with your Careers Wales adviser).

REMEMBER If you are still in school, staff from Careers Wales will advise you about opportunities in your area as part of normal careers guidance activities to help you decide what you want to do after year 11. If you have left school your first port of call should be your local careers centre/shop. Advisers will talk to you about your options and what you would like to do and they will be able to refer you on to a Traineeship.

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You should also have a look at Courses in Wales on www.careerswales.com for opportunities in your area, or if you prefer call the Learning and Careers Advice helpline on 0800 100 900 (if calling from a mobile, please call 029 2090 6801). Lines are open between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday or 9am and 12 noon on Saturday.

For more information please contact Lindsay Stewart on 01291 635731


7.2 WAY INTO WORK PROJECT

WAY INTO WORK PROJECT

Are you aged 18 –24? Are you looking for a job? Do you need to update your CV? Not sure where to start with finding a job? Why not join the Way into Work Project?

Work Placements Job Search Skills Outdoor Group Projects Confidence Building Cv Writing One to One Support

ADVICE D N A T R O P P ELPFUL, SU H , Y L D N IE R EXT JOB F N R U FREE, O Y D IN HELP F AVAILABLE TO For more information on the Way Into Work project call : Jade West on:

Leanne Ward on:

Direct dial: 01495 761015 or Mobile: 07896712293

Direct dial: 01291 674604 or Mobile: 07826 891449

Or email : Jade.west@ monmouthshirehousing.co.uk

Or email Leanne.ward@ monmouthshire.co.uk

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GET INVOLVED

8.1 Join our Panel f the MHA Would you like to be part o nel? Money Matters newsletter pa Now is your chance!

MHA regularly invites tenants and resident to get involved with the work that takes place in MHA – we are currently recruiting for a new member to sit on our Money Matters panel. You will be provided full support and only need to attend twice a year. You will gain a number of new skills and can include these in your CV – alternatively if you are just interested in seeing how things work in the background you’re very welcome to come and join.

This is an exciting opportunity call for further information on 01495 761116 we look forward to hearing from you! 44


In our last edition of Money Matters we asked you to complete a questionnaire about the Financial Inclusion service we offer.

GET INVOLVED

8.2 Research stats

We have had a great response to the questions asked and below we highlight some of the information we have had and how we feel we can counteract or address the issues raised. MHA staff during the course of the year often help families pick up the pieces following the unfortunate event of experiencing house fires. In many cases some families have lost all their home contents and belongings as they have no insurance, as part of the FI questionnaire we asked you whether you have home contents insurance (Fig. 1). Just over 47% of you responded by saying you don’t have home and contents insurance. It can be traumatic if your contents are lost in a fire or theft, protecting your home and contents, should be a priority. To help you with this why not take advantage of our £20 off your insurance policy offer which MHA is offering all MHA tenants who don’t have insurance? If you are interested in taking up this service or want more information please ring Matt or Sarah for more information today.

Fig. 1

53%

Have home & contents insurance

47%

Do not have home & contents insurance

45


GET INVOLVED

Access to credit is, in the current age very hard to come by. Where credit is available it is charged at high rates of interest. With this in mind we asked you about the types of savings accounts you have. Based on the feedback (Fig. 2) we understanding that only 41% of you have a savings account – MHA is offering MHA residents the opportunity to open saving accounts with the Credit Union. As part of this scheme we offer you £10 towards a saving account opened for an adult and £5 for a child. Opening this type of saving account will allow you to borrow money from the Credit Union at a lower rate of interest. Interested? Ring Matt or Sarah for more information today.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

86%

Current account

41%

Savings account

1% 17%

56% 56%

Credit Union account

Information on work experience placements

Information on bursary schemes

88%

Information on education & skills courses

69%

Information on employment & skills related courses

Post Office account

MHA recognized that we provided a range of information to our tenants and service users to help us focus our work. We asked you about the types of informtaion you would like to receive (Fig. 3). 56% of you wanted information on work experience placements, the same 56% of you wanted information on our bursary scheme. 88% of you stated that you wanted information on education and skills course and 69% of you wanted information on employment and skills related courses. What we have tried to do in this respect is in this edition we have focused on providing you information on the bursary, work experience placement.

46

With regards to the 88% of you wanting information on education and skills courses MHA Work and Skills Wise officer (Jade West) and Trainee Housing Officer (Robyne Squire) are now in a position to provide tenants and residents of Monmouthshire Housing with advice and support on courses and skills. To take advantage of this scheme please call the Work and skills wise team, on 01495 761116


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charge loans priority holistic abuse welfare panel training advice advice energy home volunteers loan placement • spendometer debt relief • orders Warm insurance Home Panel • shark Discount • warm Abuse changes benefits bursary fuel club advocacy• benefits experian • reforms discount Welfare Placement • Energy • Advice work skills

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www.yourbenefitsarechanging.co.uk

0300 3031073 Text change to 80018 to find out if your housing benefit will be reduced. The Community Housing Cymru Group will call you back to talk about the changes that could affect you and how you can prepare for them.


Money Matters  

4th edition of the Money Matters newsletter

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