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Find out how the Work & Skills Wise project can help you!

The MoneyWise team have had a hugely productive year, saving many people lots of money. Find out how they did it inside.


In this edition... 1.0 Welcome

4.0 Moneywise



Farida’s Welcome...



Update from Hayley...



Hellos & Goodbyes...



Update from Matt...



Competition Winners...

5.0 Work & Skills Wise 2.0 Young Persons Section



What is it?...



Always Skint?...



Work Specific Courses...



Avoid Being Skint...






Budget Sheet...



Voluntary Work...



Phone Contracts...



Bargain Hunters...



Youth Employment...



Starting a Buiness...



Think Big...



The ILM Project...



Passport to Beauty...



Spotlight on Raj...

3.0 Saving Money 11


Interest Rates...



MHA’s Open Morning...



Paying Your Rent...



Work Programmes...






Payday Loans...



Money Saving Tips...



Get Involved...



Welsh Water...






Advice from a tenant...



Xmas Loans...



Gateway Credit Union...



British Gas Helpline...



If you were Burgled...



Energy Fraud...

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


6.0 Get Involved

7.0 Christmas Tips 38


Avoid a Xmas Hangover...

1.0 Welcome

1.0 Farida’s Welcome... Hello and welcome to the third edition of the Money Matters newsletter. I want to start off by thanking you for your record response to last edition’s competition. It was so pleasing to see so many of you participate. Turn to page 3 and see who’s the lucky winner. As always we have another competition for you, on this occasion we will be offering £100 to the winner. This competition involves us listening to your comments about the work we have undertaken to date, and how you would like us to proceed in future. Go on, give it a go, help shape the services that you receive. You never know, £100 could be heading your way! See the purple box below to find out what you need to do. On a more serious note, with the government making a number of changes to benefits and a push towards getting more people into employment, in this edition of Money Matters, we explain the help we can offer with Benefits Advice, using our two Income and Energy Advisors, Matt and Hayley. We provide examples of how the Money Wise Project has already helped a number of you save money and get entitled benefits in place. We also introduce you to our exciting new project called Work &

Skills Wise. This project aims to help you with learning, offer you work experience and also help to set-up your own business if that is what you want. Turn to page 28 to find out what we can offer you. We haven’t forgotten our young people either - we include a special feature on how young people can save money too. So, if you are a young person, or you have young teenagers who want to learn a few tips on how to save money go to page 4 and have a read. Another exciting addition for young people is the ‘Think Big Project’. Think Big offers a sum of money of up to £300 to young people who want to improve the area that they live in. Read page 10 to find out what you need to do. This edition like all others is jam packed with lots of advice and information, which you can use as and when you need it. Contact us to let us know how and what you would like us to feature in our next edition. Remember this is your newsletter written for you so be a part of it! See page 37 for more details on how to get involved. Happy reading – Over and out for now!

MHA is running a number of different schemes to help you manage your money, education, skills & employment prospects. Please complete the questionnaire along with the wordsearch at the back of the magazine and send them into us at: Nant Y Pia House, Mamhilad Technology Park, Mamhilad, Monmouthshire, NP4 0JJ to enter our free prize draw for the chance to win £100.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


1.0 Welcome

1.1 Hellos, Goodbyes & Thankyous...

Since our last newsletter, there have been various comings and goings in the Community Services team as employees move on to gain experience in other areas of the company and beyond. We say a big thank you and goodbye to Nicole and Steph for all their hard work in our team and would like to welcome Trainee Housing Officer Laura Denyer who will be spending six months with us. Andrea Retallick will be continuing to

help Farida with the Work & Skills project. Rob Carey continues to do sterling work with Tenant Participation. Finally, Jenny McCarty became Mrs Herbert and left us in July to work nearer the marital home in Stoke-onTrent. She was a valuable member of the team and will be sorely missed. Therefore, we warmly welcome Cheryl Tracy in to the team as her replacement.

1.2 Competition Winners... Congratulations to our lucky winner for the Autumn edition of Money Matters competition. Mr Lane pictured opposite with Andrea being presented with a ÂŁ50 cheque towards his Credit Union (CU) account. Congratulations also to all the runners-up which include: C.Davies, E.Higham, C.Bailey, F.Aubrey, C.Spenser, F.Sheppard, S.Harmer, J.Long, A.Upcraft, D.Williams, A.Dummet, M.Eccles, M.Curry, K.A.Cotton, C.Gillies, K.Jenkins and T.Davies all of whom also had the correct answer and were rewarded with ÂŁ10 toward their CU accounts so smiles all round.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


2.0 Young Persons Section

2.0 Young Persons Section...

This section has been dedicated to young people. We hope that this provides you and your children with tips on how to manage their money well. We offer a free personal budget sheet to help work out income and expenditure. This will help plan and keep tabs on where the money goes! We also provide a list of websites that you and your youngsters can visit for further advice and information. The section also provides an article on mobile phones and what to be wary of when signing up to get a new phone.

*Message Alert!* - If you are a young person we hope you find this section useful we welcome your comments and feedback! Money Matters - 2011 Edition


2.0 Young Persons Section

2.1 Always Skint?...

Money is a very personal matter and opening up and talking about the lack of money is hard - not only for young people, in reality it’s hard for anyone - young and old alike. Asking for help to manage money and understand it, is even harder! Just the thought of talking about managing money sounds boring and so not cool, but as the pressure mounts to keep up with the latest fashion items and gadgets, it is only by being able to manage our money well that we can keep up with the rest - This is where budgeting can help. Budgeting seems like something that parents needs to do, surely at this age you don’t need to do it? If any of the following statements reflect what you feel, it is likely that budgeting can help you. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


I can’t budget for the following reasons:

• “My money never goes that far!” • “I never think about how much things cost – money just disappears” • “I never have enough spare money to save” • “I usually end up borrowing off my parents by the end of the week” • “There’s never enough pocket money”.

2.0 Young Persons Section

2.2 How to Avoid Being Skint?...

If the statements from the previous page sound familiar. It’s worth thinking about using a budget sheet to see what you spend your money on and where it goes. Why not have a stab at filling in a budget sheet, overleaf? How to complete your budget sheet... It’s likely your money will come from pocket money, doing jobs at home or for family and friends, a paper round or Saturday job. Bearing this in mind, list all the money you have coming-in on the sheet. This is called your income. You will then need to list what you spend your money on. This is called your expenditure. You will need to add up all your income and then all your expenditure. Remember, your total expenses should be less than your total income! If your expenditure is more than your income, then you need to think about doing more paid chores at home, or getting an extra job! The alternative would be to think about how you spend your money and look for bargains and buy in the sales or online. There is lots of help available with this. Visit the following, we hope it helps! National Youth Agency

The Site

Citizens Advice Bureau - Advice Guide ew/young_people___money_advice_videos.htm Money Matters - 2011 Edition


2.0 Young Persons Section

2.3 Young Persons Budget Sheet... Income 



Pocket Money

Expenditure (Box A)

Extra Paid Chores



Expenditure (Box B)





Need Further Help?




Savings School/Sports Games & Toys Clothes Entertainment Other Expenses

TOTAL (Box A) Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Remember if you have any money spare and would like to open a savings accounts MHA can give you £5 to help kick start your savings. To start saving and open a Credit Union account please call your Income & Energy Advisors Matt Taylor on 07792 596915 or Hayley D’Alessio on 07725 824800 and get a head start, start saving for your future.

2.0 Young Persons Section

2.4 Getting a Mint Phone Contract...

With the growing popularity of Mobile Phones, it is important to be able to budget and choose a phone that’s best for you and your pocket!! This is especially true with the extra costs of ringtones, text alerts and multimedia messaging, which could push your bill up! When buying a mobile phone it is important that you choose a tariff (price) which suits your lifestyle in order to keep costs low. Things you might want to consider are: • When you’ll spend the most time on your phone • What networks your friends use (you might be able to get free calls to them) • How many texts you’ll send in a month – (300? 500? Work out how many a day, how many a week, then how many a month. Be realistic) • How often you think you’ll be accessing the internet through your phone, and how much data you are likely to be downloading.

High Cost Services There are some services offered by mobile phone companies, which are expensive and increase your bill. The main ones to be beware of are: • • • •

Downloading Ringtones Using the Internet Text Alerts Multimedia Messaging

Contracts There are a number of different plans available for mobile phone customers. These are: • Pay As You Go • Sim Only (If you have a phone available already) • Contract

Pay As You Go Pay As You Go may be worth considering if you do not make a lot of calls or texts and you do not want to use your phone for other things, like sending e-mails, downloading music or accessing the Internet. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


2.0 Young Persons Section

2.5 Youth Employment Opportunities...

Time2Engage+ MCC’s Transition Worker... Charlotte Brown is the 14-19 Learning Pathways Transition Worker. She works with 16-19 yr olds who live in Monmouthshire and are currently unemployed and looking to move on into their next steps. She works with lots of agencies and can support a young person who may need help with their career pathway, housing, finances, employment issues, job search and much more. If she can’t help specifically then she will work with other agencies until the problem is sorted. She can meet you in various places and will contact you through phone call, letter, email and now Facebook. Contact Charlotte 14-19 Learning Pathways Transition Worker on 07900052169, become a friend on Facebook be searching ‘Transition Worker’ or email her on uk Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Time2Engage+ is a new opportunity for young people aged 18-25 living in Monmouthshire to help them Develop New Skills, try out new things, increase confidence. The Time2Engage+ (T2E+) project will be working with young people aged 18-25 who are currently not in employment, education or training, providing a FREE 3 week course at venues across Monmouthshire. T2E+ is a tailored programme of activities and accredited training which will take place over 3 days each week. The course will include the British Safety Council Health & Safety Level 1 qualification, as well as Money Matters, Key Skills and a variety of confidence building activities. At the end of the course there is the opportunity to progress onto a mainstream provision, such as the Intermediate Labour Market with Melin Homes. If you would like any further details contact: Tracy Sobey at: tracysobey@;

2.0 Young Persons Section

2.6 Think Big...

Are you a young person who is fed up about your local area and want to make a difference? If so Think Big is for you - Think Big is offering money to young people to help them change their local community for the better. Think Big is part of the Big Lottery and is open to young individuals or teams.

How do I enter?... All you need is an idea of how to make a change and start a project in your area.

If Think Big likes your idea you will get £300 cash, a mobile with £30 credit, and training and support to get it off the ground. If your £300 project goes really well, you could be invited to apply for up to £2500 for Think Bigger, which means you can have more money to develop your project further. So far, Think Big has supported 625 ideas to improve communities in the UK. You can visit the website www. to see what project have already been funded, if you don’t have access to a computer visit the library to use their computers.

The project could be for example, setting up home work club, or dance classes or a service which helps youths and elderly come together and Further information is available on develop and learn skills. the Think Big website or you can call Think Big directly on 0800 9020250. If you have a good idea it’s worth Alternatively if you need support getting in touch with Think Big to Laura at MHA may be able to help call see if they can help you, or if you her on 01495 767196 or email laura. want further advice you may want to contact Laura from MHA on 01495 767196 to help develop an idea.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.0 Interest Rates...

There are two different types of interest rates - these being:

APR (Annual % Rate) The word ‘interest’ often comes up when you are borrowing or saving money. When you borrow money from a bank, building society, credit union or even a doorstep loan-shark you get charged an amount for borrowing that money. This is called interest.

If you’re borrowing money, you’ll come across the letters APR. This stands for Annual Percentage Rate. Anyone officially lending money to you has to tell you their APR. The idea behind APRs is that they make it easier for you to compare the cost of borrowing. The lower the APR the less money you will need to pay back on top of the amount borrowed.

Lenders charge you to borrow money in order to make a profit. There is often AER (Annual Equivalent Rate) a risk involved in lending as the person borrowing the money may not be able to If you’re saving money, the letters repay the loan. If in the past you haven’t you’ll come across are AER. This paid back money you have borrowed, stands for Annual Equivalent Rate. This you’re either likely to be turned down shows how much interest you’d get if for a loan, or charged more interest on you put some money into an account it, as the risk to the lender is higher. and left it there for a year. Again, using AERs, you can work out which When you save money with a bank, bank or building society will help your building society or credit union, they use savings grow fastest. The higher the this to help them fund their activities. AER the more money you will receive. In return for this, they pay you an extra bit of money. This is interest. How much you earn depends on where you put Further Information your money and how long you save it for The ‘Money Matters to Me’ website as well as how much you save! has a number of calculators that can When we talk about how much interest help you understand interest. To work we’re being charged, we usually talk out how much you’ll be paying if you about it as a percentage of the amount take out a loan, simply take a look at we’ve borrowed. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.1 How to Pay Your Rent... Direct Debit Direct Debit is the most convenient, cheapest and by far the most secure way of making payment for your rent. Your payments are secured by the Direct Debit Guarantee – if your bank (or building society) makes an error they will credit your account. All payments are electronically recorded and will appear on your bank statements and records. Rent paid by Direct Debit is collected on a monthly basis, on the 5th or 15th of the month, you still receive your two free-Christmas weeks, as you are only charged for 50 weeks of the year. If these dates are not appropriate, please contact us and we will try to offer an alternative. Direct Debit payments are confirmed in writing, and subject to 10 working days written notice before any changes take effect. Changes to your payable rent, e.g Housing Benefit changes or end of year rent increases, would be picked up automatically and your rent payments recalculated. For a Direct Debit mandate please call 01495 76 11 07, or you can download a copy from our website at www. Please return the completed mandate to: MHA Systems Development Team Nant Y Pia House, Mamhilad Technology Park, Monmouthshire,NP4 0JJ

Standing Order You can set up a Standing Order with your bank (or building society) to pay a pre-arranged amount on a designated date (anything from daily to annually). These payments will be credited to your Rent Account within 2 working days of payment. Please be aware a Standing Order is an arranagement between yourself and your bank (or building society), the payment is not guaranteed by either your bank (or building society) or ourselves. Any adjustment to the payment (due to Housing Benefit or rent inceases) must be completed by yourself (or the account holder). If you would like help setting up a Standing Order, please call 01495 76 11 07. Please ensure that when setting up your Standing Order you include your name, first line of your address and FULL rent account reference, this ensures your payments are promptly posted to your rent account.

Payment Card A payment card can be ordered which you can use at your local Post Office or shop/garage displaying the Paypoint logo. Payments are credited to your account within 2 to 3 working days following the date paid. Please note that outlets accepting these cards cannot inform you of your rent account balance.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.1 How to Pay Your Rent (Continued)... Internet

Cheques Cheques should be made out to MHA and posted to MHA Headquarters at Mamhilad, or can be handed in to any of the One-Stop Shops. Cheques handed in to the One-Stop Shops are sent to Mamhilad to be paid in. This may cause a delay of up to 5 working days before they are credited to your rent account.

Payments can be made via the MHA’s website www.monmouthshirehousing. and follow the link to Pay Your Rent. It is your responsibility to ensure that payments are made early enough so the money is received into your rent account within the appropriate weekly period. If paying by Payment Card, Internet, Cheque or Standing Order, please take into consideration the advice on this sheet on how long to allow for this.

3.2 Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA)...

If you are struggling with any debt repayments there is an government initiative called ‘Individual Voluntary Agreement’ (IVA) which could help to write off debt you cannot afford to pay back. What is an IVA? An Individual Voluntary Arrangement is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors. An IVA has to be set up by a professional called an Insolvency Practitioner (IP). All interest and charges will be frozen to 0% and creditors will not be allowed to demand additional payments.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


How can I set up an IVA? Firstly always seek professional advice from a reputable source e.g. the Citizens Advice Centre debt advisor. Once a decision has been made that an IVA is right for you an assessment of your financial situation is undertaken. A repayment amount will be calculated based on the information you have given. Monthly payments are based on what you can afford and can vary during the payment period if your income or expenditure changes. If you would like more information you can contact The IVA Helpline on 0800 876 0999 or contact Matt and Hayley for further support.

3.0 Saving Money

3.3 Payday Loans...

Online adverts for credit may seem like Advantages of Payday Loans a quick and easy option. Some offer • Quick Cash to give you an agreement in minutes • Maintain your credit rating and have money in your bank account • Easy to borrow within a matter of hours. Others • Eligibility criteria minimal allow you to apply for a loan via text message which they promise to credit Disadvantages of Payday Loans to your bank account within minutes. They may offer incentives to make you apply, such as a free MP3 player, or claim to be able to lend to you when other lenders won’t. However they may prove to be a very expensive choice. Many of the loans advertised online or via text are known as payday or paycheque loans. They are short-term loans that you can take while waiting for the next payday. They may seem like a good way of getting your hands on your wages quicker than you otherwise would, but beware – the interest rates charged are often extremely high. Rates higher than 1000% APR are not uncommon. Compare this to the APRs of many credit cards that have typical rates of around 15-20% or personal loans that have rates lower than 10% and you get an idea of just how expensive this form of borrowing is.

• One of the major disadvantages of getting these loans is that the interest rates are very high and the person has to pay a large amount of money in return. • They are unsecured loans and this is the reason why people may not pay the loan back. • Even though companies may promise that they will give the best rates, people do not actually get loans at cheaper rates.

If you are unable to borrow from mainstream lenders such as banks and building societies there are other forms of borrowing that you could consider, but beware of Loan Sharks. You may be able to set a loan from a number of other sources for example, Credit Unions, Community Development Finance Institutions - such as Moneyline Cymru. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.4 Top Money Saving Tips...

In this article, we will provide you with a number of money saving tips that we hope you will find useful and will save you money!

Petrol Plan ahead and know when your petrol tank is likely to get low, then you can shop around for the cheapest fuel. A really easy way to do this is by using a website called Registering your details and your postcode, the website will locate the lowest-priced fuel in your area.

Groceries Make sure you’ve planned ahead and drawn up a list of meals you’re going to cook for the next week. Take this shopping list with you when you go to the supermarket, and don’t get tempted to buy anything that isn’t on your list. You could use a website called which allows you to track how much your shopping would cost at each of the UK’s four major supermarkets. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Electrical Goods Shop around for electrical goods - it’s easy to do online if you use websites such as or www. Simply type in the item you require and find out where you can pick it up the cheapest. If you’d prefer to see what you’re buying, why not head over to your nearest store, check out the item, and then go back online to get the best price? And if you’re lucky enough, you might find a handy voucher code to save even more money!

Clothes If you do need to buy something new, shopping online is a great way to save money. For a start, you can save money by using a voucher code, and secondly, you can earn money back by using a cashback website such as, www., www.greasypalm. and

3.0 Saving Money

3.5 The Welsh Water Assistance Fund... Criteria

Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) has developed a fund called the Welsh Water Assistance Fund. This fund helps low income families and individuals with certain medical conditions by offering reduced water charges. There are four conditions you need to meet to be able to apply for this fund. These are:

1. You have to be a household only supply for your family home supply only. 2. The bill payer or a member of the household is in receipt of a qualifying benefit or tax credit; 3. Either 3 or more children, under the age of 19, are living in the household, for whom child benefit is claimed, or; 4. Someone in the household has a medical condition that requires significant additional use of water. To find out more you can contact Welsh Water Assist directly on 0800 052 0140 Monday - Friday 9am - 4.30pm, Saturday 8.30am - 1.30pm or call Matt and Hayley to help you through the application process on their direct lines.

3.6 Advice from an MHA tenant... Here is a letter sent into us by a tenant. We hope you find it useful. There is lots of help out there. Go to the One Stop Shop or the Citizens Advice Bureau and they will support you. I followed a friend through a court case simply because he did not know how to fill in the forms properly instead of asking for help. He went to three different courts and each time it looked worse. The last court he went to he thought he was going to prison. He is dyslexic and did not know what this really meant. The judge ordered him to

pay back all the money and he received a suspended prison sentence. What you want to do if you are not sure of anything on any form you have to fill in is to get help. Do not be scared to ask. Even if you have problems reading, writing or not being able to understand forms, always ask someone. There are people out there to help you. Remember you could be in the same boat or even worse than him. Do not try to beat the system as with all the technology they will catch up with you sooner than you think! Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.7 Xmas Loans with the Credit Union...

Everybody wants a perfect family Christmas but sometimes it can end up with stress and worry about money. Advice agencies report January as one of the worst times for debt and family crises. If you need a little extra cash this Christmas, why not see Gateway Credit Union about a loan? Credit Unions look at everybody’s circumstances as an individual, so even if you are on benefits or have had money troubles in the past Gateway may be able to help you. For next Christmas, why not set up a savings account? Gateway’s Christmas

saver Account is a safe, easy way to save, direct from pay or benefits, or from your bank account, or in cash. The money is locked in until November when you can spend it as you choose. MHA will even add £10 to your savings. Don’t be tempted by a doorstep loan!!! Interested? Contact Matt & Hayley, or call 01495750020 or go to www.


Repayment Period


Repayment Amount

Required Interest Paid

Total Repaid


45 weeks







1 year






£1,000 1 year






Money Matters - 2011 Edition


3.0 Saving Money

3.8 The Gateway Credit Union... Gateway Credit Union is working with Homecare Appliances of Pontypool to offer a package deal for washing machines, cookers, fridges, etc with weekly payments, free delivery and good value, energy efficient appliances. The Credit Union are promoting the Statesman range, with two years free warranty, and free delivery, connection and removal of the old appliance, but Homecare appliances also supply most other major brands. For example, the Statesman Fusion electric cooker and the Alaska fridge freezer both cost £310.

local firm, Homecare Appliances can arrange delivery to suit you. Lots of MHA tenants get into difficulties buying new appliances for their homes, a broken washing machine or cooker can really make life difficult, and people can be tempted to get into weekly payment deals to solve the problem. Most of these end up much more expensive than buying a cooker or washing machine locally, with payments running on over years.

Credit Union loans are open to new and existing members, and they will also help you to find a convenient way to With a Gateway loan, a washing machine save, even if you can only afford a few pounds a week. To help get you started, costing £275 would cost less than £6 MHA is offering a £10 bonus when a week, repaid over a year with less than £35 in interest. This compares with tenants start to save regularly with the nearly 3 years to pay off a similar model Credit Union, and to pay your £1 joining fee. Children can save too, and MHA will from Brighthouse or Buy as you View. add £5 to their account, up to £15 per If you need several appliances, perhaps family. for a new home, Gateway offers larger loans over a longer period. If you want to know more, call Gateway Savers can also take advantage of the package deal, gaining the convenience of having their appliance arrive, prepaid from their Credit Union savings. As a

on 01495 750020, take a look at their website, or see overleaf.

3.9 British Gas Helpline (0800 107 5793)... British Gas provides a special helpline number for customers offering holistic advice, including ensuring the customer is on the right tariff and discussing affordable payment plans. When phoning the helpline, customers should be ready with their customer

reference number, which starts with 85, and call 0800 107 5793. The helpline number is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 6pm. So call 0800 107 5793 to take advantage of the advice on offer.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Equip your kitchen and still have money for food! Need a new........... Washing Machine, Cooker Fridge, Freezer or Dishwasher then look no further!

s l a e D e g Packa Brand new A rated appliances + Free delivery and installation + 2 years warranty + Free removal of old appliances

With a low cost loan from Gateway Credit Union you could be using your new appliance very soon!

Call us on 01495 750020

3.0 Saving Money

3.10 What If You Were Burgled?...

What would you do if you lost... • • • • •

Your TV & entertainment system? Your games console? Your PC or laptop? Your children’s toys? That leather jacket or shoes you love so much?

When times are hard, often the last thing we think about are those things that don’t give us an immediate return.... Insurance can be one of the last things on our minds after food, heating our homes and clothing ourselves and our children. However, have you thought about how many items of value you have in your home? What might you lose during a theft, or flood, or fire?? It is an awful thing to have to consider, but if it were to happen, would you have the means to replace your TV, DVD player, Wii or stereo? Most people find their household contents are worth more than they think. When considering an insurance policy you would need to include everything: White goods, the furniture in every room, ornaments, light fittings, electronic items, jewellery, CDs, books, toys, carpets and curtains, bedding, towels, clothing, vacuum cleaner, gardening equipment and lawnmower the list can be endless. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Living in a Monmouthshire Housing Association property means you are safe in the knowledge that should anything go wrong with your heating, or if you needed a call out for your electric/gas repairs, we would be there to help. The contents are your responsibility, but even so, MHA would like to help you out! Anyone who takes up a ‘MyHome’ insurance policy, starting from 1st April 2011 is eligible for £20 off their yearly premium! - *If you are paying for the whole year, up-front. The ‘MyHome’ contents insurance plan can benefit you in a number of ways: • Instant cover available over the telephone • Affordable payments • Cash payments available as well as traditional payment methods (You can pay for your insurance in the same way as you pay for your rent – ie. Swipe card / DD) • And many, many more financial benefits... For further information about the scheme call 0845 337 2463. For further information about insurance at MHA call 01495 767186.

3.0 Saving Money

3.11 Watch Out For Energy Fraud!... Pre-Payment Meters... Pre-payment meters are a great & relaible way to budget: • A meter has several advantages: It’s an easy way to budget for gas or electricity – no worries about bills arriving later. • It offers you an emergency credit facility if you are unable to buy credit straight away. Energy companies and the Consumer watchdog are warning customers not to buy electric meter top-ups at the doorstep. An estimated 85,000 households have been affected by a doorstep scam which seems to offer cheaper electricity meter top-ups. The gangs, who sometimes claim to be from the energy companies, typically offer £50 worth of prepayment meter top-up at half the price. The salesmen then push the cloned key into the householders meter to add the credit. Customers get their cheap electricity but because the credit is illegal they may end up having to pay their energy supplier as well – and end up paying twice. It is essential that you only top up your electricity meter from recognised Paypoint or Payzone shops or from the Post Office. Customers can contact their electricity company or Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 for more advice and information or to discuss any issues relating to this scam.

• It allows you to stay on supply while repaying any money owed. • Pre-payment meters have some possible disadvantages too. But these needn’t be a problem if you check your meter regularly, and plan in advance. • You need to make sure you can easily visit a charging point or token outlet whenever you need to buy credit for your electricity or gas meter, otherwise you may go off supply. • You’ll need to make sure you have enough credit on your meter if you go away from home. Even when you’re not there, your meter will still be charging for any appliances you normally leave on, such as fridges and freezers, or your hot water. • Please remember that using a pre-paid meter may actually cost more. Remember that you’ll usually have to buy more credit for your gas meter during the winter months, when you use more energy. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


4.0 Moneywise

4.0 MoneyWise Update...

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


4.0 Moneywise

4.1 Update from Hayley D’Alessio...

I’m Hayley the Income and Energy Advisor for the North of Monmouthshire. I therefore cover the Abergavenny and Monmouth areas. Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time with residents in these areas, advising on benefits, saving, debts and all kinds of ‘money matters’. I have been working with the Credit Union, the benefits section and a number of other agencies to deliver the best service available to you!

I have had some great successes so far with helping people get benefits, debt reduced and grants to improve tenants homes to make them warmer and more energy efficient, as well as money off water bills by promoting a scheme called Welsh Water Assist. I provide some examples below on some of the successes I have had. All cases are anonymous and the confidentiality of the individual has been protected.

Help with Disability Benefits Mrs X is a single mother on benefits has a number of debts and on the verge of eviction. With not enough income and a young child with disabilities Mrs X was provided help with: • • • •

Applying for benefits for the disabled child, Full benefit check for her, Help with the debt issues, eviction matter withdrawn, Help with paying energy bills by going on to cheaper tariffs.

Grant to Help Heat Home Mrs Y is a pensioner on pension credits and state pension and was having problems paying her energy bills, she didn’t seem to have enough money. Mrs Y was provided help by: • Making an application for a Home Energy Efficiency Grant for measures such as insulation and draught proofing all which are completely free to those eligible. • Full benefit check, as a result of this it was established that Mrs Y was only receiving some of the pension credit she was entitled to. Mrs Y now has more money in her pocket to pay bills and has a grant to make changes in her home to help reduce the cost of her energy bills. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


4.0 Moneywise

4.1 Update from Hayley D’Alessio... Help with Disability Benefits Mrs Z has a high credit card bill which she struggles to pay and is not reducing the balance as the interest is so high. Mrs Z was provided advice on debt. The interest was frozen and a manageable repayment plan was put in place.

Help with Welsh Water Assistance Fund Mr and Mrs U were struggling to pay their water bills. Due to the medical conditions they had they needed to wash themselves, their bedding and clothes a lot more than usual. Mr and Mrs U were receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit and as such they we able to qualify for Welsh Water Assist Fund. I was able to help make an application to the Welsh Water Assist Fund. As they were successful they are currently saving £224.00 a year on their water bill. (turn to page 16 To find out more about Welsh Water Assist and how you can qualify).

These examples give you an idea of the kind of things I can help with - I am always looking to help - after all its part of my job! If you live in the Monmouth or Abergavenny area and want advice on managing your money, lowering your utility bills or maximising your income please contact me on 07725824800 or email me hayley.d’alessio@ for an appointment. I can come and visit you at

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


home or meet you somewhere within the community, wherever you feel most comfortable! I have been in this role for a year and am really enjoying it so far! I enjoy working with residents on a face to face basis. I look forward to hearing from you to see how I can help you.

4.0 Moneywise

4.2 Update from Matt Taylor...

My name is Matthew Taylor and I work as an Income and Energy Advisor for the south of Monmouthshire. I therefore cover the areas of Caldicot and Chepstow. Since I started this role last year, I have helped many people with many different problems including debt, housing benefit, opening bank accounts, providing benefit checks and comparing the cheapest insurance, gas and electricity deals. I have had a lot of positive feedback from tenants who I have supported and they all believe that the service provided has been invaluable. The service provided is all about getting money back into tenant’s pockets. I do this by providing advice, information and assistance. Sometimes this involves form filling, making phone calls, finding out information or putting tenants in touch with someone who is a specialist and can provide the best advice for the situation.

Working with tenants who do not have bank accounts or savings, I have been able to help with opening bank and savings accounts. A number of people have taken advantage of our Credit union saving incentive where we offer £5 for any child that opens a saving account and £10 for every adult. I have also been able to help with budgeting and financial planning. All this means is that I am able to sit down with people and help them understand how much money they have coming in and going out, whether they can save money and where they need to reduce costs. There are a number of tenants who live in properties that are not insured. I have been able to introduce and compare insurance cost for some of the tenants that I have supported. Below are some examples of how I have assisted tenants:

Help with Bailiffs, Debt & Budgeting Mrs D made contact about a benefits check, she wanted to make sure she was getting the right benefits. Having conducted a benefits check for her and confirmed there was no entitlement, she was advised that she may qualify for Welsh Water Assist. An application was made which was successful and will save Mrs.D £211 a year. She also qualified for a backdated payment of £422. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


4.0 Moneywise

4.2 Update from Matt Taylor... Help with Bailiffs, Debt & Budgeting Mr B had a number of debts and was visited by the bailiff who demanded he paid a large amount of money monthly which Mr.B could not afford. Mr B was provided help with: • Budgeting. This allowed us to understand how much Mr B could realistically afford. • A reduced offer was made to the Bailiff which he accepted. • In looking into Mr B’s finances it also become apparent that he was paying a direct debit for a service which he wasn’t using, I was able to cancel this payment and save him just under £200 per year • Mr B was then referred to a specialist who looked at all of Mr B’s debt and assisted him.

Benefits, Insurance & Savings Mrs C a new tenant at her property made contact about benefits advice. I was able to advise her on: • Benefit entitlement • Sorted out insurance • And opened a credit union account.

Help with Disability Benefits Mrs A had been sent an eviction notice because housing benefit had stopped and a huge amount of arrears had stacked up. Mrs A could not afford this and couldn’t seem to sort the problem out. Mrs A was provided help with: • Looking at all paper work, • Contacting housing benefits, • Putting a case forward to housing benefit and getting the right facts to them. Outcome of the case was that Mrs A was not evicted and all housing benefit back dated.

Remember, even if you think that you’re getting everything that you’re entitled to, still check because you never know what’s out there. These examples hopefully give you an idea about how I can help. I enjoy working with tenants to ensure that you are given the right services. If there is ever a problem Money Matters - 2011 Edition


which relates to income or energy, debt or other problems, if you live in or around the areas of Caldicot and Chepstow contact me through email matthew.taylor@monmouthshirehousing. or phone me on 07792596915, I will be really happy to help.

5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.0 Introducing Work & Skills Wise...

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.1 What is MHA’s Work & Skills Wise?...

In the coming weeks, MHA will be launching a project called Work and Skills Wise. This project is all about providing help to MHA tenants with Training and Education opportunities. The ultimate aim of this is to help you build your skills to find a job, to get a better job or to help you become self employed. This article explains exactly what we can offer and who to contact. As part of our Training and Education opportunities programme we can offer you basic courses in:

English & Maths English and Maths may sound really boring but you will be surprised at how many people actually struggle to read properly. These courses are a very good starting point for anyone who wants to brush up their reading and maths skills. They will be delivered in a local relaxed environment where everyone else has similar challenges with reading, writing and maths. The courses are free and the cost of childcare is provided. If there is sufficient interest amongst your neighbours and friends living in the same area, providing you can muster a minimum 6 people, we can deliver the course to your group. There is no upper age limit. Give Laura Denyer a call to find out more. Tel: 01495 767196. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Computer & Internet Courses We can also offer you basic courses on getting online and using computers. Offered over a 4 week period, we will teach you about how to get connected to the internet, how to set up email; how to shop online and search for bargains online. We have offered this course in the Abergavenny, Chepstow and Caldicot area this year and have had much success. All participants who enrolled on the course have now gone on to further courses and have really enjoyed it. Again the course is free and childcare costs can also be provided. For more information please contact Laura Denyer on 01495 767196.

5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.2 Work Specific Courses...

Customer Services

Office Administration If you are interested in working in an office, this may be just up your street! This course is an introduction to office administration and as part of it you will learn about what kind of skills are needed to work in an office environment. As a part of the course, MHA will invite you to come and volunteer in the MHA offices, to get a feel for what it is like to work in that environment. Once you have completed the study and the volunteer work placement you will get a qualification. This will allow you to demonstrate on your CV that you have both an understanding of what is involved in working in an office environment and also have some recent experience. To find out more please contact Laura on 01495 767196.

If you are interested in working in a customer service environment which can include working in local businesses, shops and restaurants, this course may be right for you. You will learn the skills you need to work in this environment and MHA will offer you work experience in their customer service team to help you develop yourself and your experience. Both the Office Administration and Customer Service courses are practical and can help you move closer to your next job. For further info please contact us on 01495 767196.

Higher Level Courses MHA works very closely with the Adult and Community Education department and can arrange a placement on higher level courses too. If you are interested in learning, please ring and speak with Laura on 01495 767196 to find out more.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.3 Computers in the Community...

Bursary Scheme Computers MHA can help you with your studies by loaning you a laptop. Interested? Read on… As part of the work and skills wise programme MHA is able to offer its tenants who are enrolled on educational or learning courses, laptop computers to help with their studies. The computers in the Community Scheme will allow you to use your loaned computer in the comfort of your own home, helping you to learn at your own pace. Providing you have completed 3 basic courses and are willing to study further, we can offer you a computer to use for those studies. Please note that this scheme is targeted at those who don’t have a computer and want to learn. This is a limited resource and cannot be open to all. For further information on our Computers in the Community scheme and to see if you qualify please ring and request a leaflet and application form from Laura Denyer on 01495 767196. Please note that you will need to provide evidence of learning as part of the qualifying criteria. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


As part of the Work and Skills Wise project you may also be able to get help via the MHA Bursary scheme. This will allow any MHA tenants to access additional funds towards further learning. The MHA Bursary Scheme is available to all tenants to help and support you to learn new skills or improve existing ones. If you have found a course which you are interested in but are worried about the cost of it, then MHA may be able to help you with course materials and fees. Similarly, if you would like to re-train or learn a new skill, but you’re not sure how or who to approach, then MHA can help you find a suitable course and put you in touch with learning providers. If you are interested in receiving help towards your learning/training, then please contact Laura on 01495 767196 for an informal chat to see if we can help you.

Testimonials “Being an adult learner has definitely made me more confident. I’m not afraid to ask anymore. I will go places now, whereas before I always used to put things off and say I will deal with it later.” - Mrs.S

5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.4 Voluntary Work & Self-Employment...

MHA’s Voluntary Work Experience As part of the Work and Skills Wise program MHA can offer you a range of voluntary work experience placements. Both within MHA and elsewhere, via Gwent Association of Voluntary Organizations. MHA volunteering program will help equip you with an understanding of the demands and challenges of the work place. To take advantage of this scheme and find out more info please ring 01495 761141 for an information pack.

5.5 Bargain Hunters Online... MHA as part of its Money Help and Advice work have been working with Monmouthshire Adult and Community Education to offer free courses on how to get online and save money. Our bargain hunters online course has been able to offer participants training on how to get online, how to Google and access websites and how to be a confident consumer by searching for the best shopping deals whilst safely shopping online, paying less for more. We have now had over 25 residents on our courses we congratulate them all

our courses we congratulate them all on successfully completing their courses and enrolling on new ones. Remember give us a ring if you are interested in enrolling on a similar course. Take control of your money, learn how to use the internet to save money & become a ‘Bargain Hunter’! Money Matters - 2011 Edition


5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.6 Starting a business hasn’t been easier... If you are thinking of starting a business, recently started a business, or just want to be your own boss, then take advantage of the expertise available for FREE at The Centre for Business. They have been helping people start their own businesses for over 27 years and want to get you off to the best possible start.

We provide advice on...

Property letting & Conference Facilities... • Serviced Units • Industrial Units

• Business Start Up

Flexible terms, training, etc...

• Business Growth • Business Training

• Leadership & Management Courses

• Funding & Grant Advice

• QCFs (formally known as NVQs)

• Marketing

• Health & Safety Courses (IOSH & NEBOSH accreditated)

For further information, please contact the Centre for Business on 07891 233 866.

• SAGE Account Management Packages

5.7 The ILM Project... Other than the Work and Skill Wise project which MHA is running there are a number of other initiatives which can also help you with employment and skills. This next section provides you with details of these initiatives and projects. Melin’s ILM project is the (Intermediate Labour Market) is funded by the European Social Fund and managed, in Wales, by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). The project helps unemployed people Money Matters - 2011 Edition


get back into work in the construction and green technology sector and has produced great results. Of the 40 placements: • 20 are still on placement • 13 have gone onto full-time employment • 2 have found casual employment • 1 gone into full-time education • 1 is volunteering • 1 is now working full-time for MHA For more information, please contact Karen Green at Melin Homes on 08453 101102.

5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.8 The Passport to Beauty Programme...

MHA in partnership with Charter Housing are running an exciting project called “Working for me”. As part of this project MHA has offered 4 residents the opportunity to train as Mobile Beauty Therapists, helping them to kick start their career as a beauty therapist working from home.

What they’ve done... The participants have been provided training on pedicures, manicures, acrylic nails and spray tanning. Jade West is the Working for me project officer and is providing advice and ongoing support to these participants to help them set up their own business. She says “over time participants will be encouraged to develop additional skills and add new services to their business – the girls that we have had training on the project have been excellent, they are dedicated, are really enjoying the course and can’t wait to set up their businesses”.

Finding out more... The working for me project is open for anyone who is interested in setting up a business – if you have an idea and are interested in setting up your own business give Jade a call to see how we can help you – Jade works two days a week Thursday and Fridays, her number is 01495 7611015 and her email is jade. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.9 Spotlight on Raj Raghubur... His qualifications... Mr Raghubur has received certificates in Adult Numeracy, Adult Literacy, Brick Work, Woodwork and Hand Tools, Woodwork Tools and Equipment, Joining UPVC Pipes, Joining Copper Pipes, Painting and Decorating to name a few Mr and Mrs Raghubur made contact with MHA having read the Money Matters newsletter to enquire about the range of courses on offer.

What he’s done... Since the period of initial contact over 18 months ago Mr & Mrs Raghubur have completed a number of courses. This month Mr Raghubur completed his 12th course and is one of the nominees for the Monmouthshire Housing “Making a Difference Award” – under the category of “Adult Learner of the Year”.

His next steps... Mr Raghubur is continuing to pursue his learning and has now enrolled on a year long computer training course with his wife. We wish Mr Raghubur good luck with his nomination and congratulate him on the outstanding learning he has been involved in. Remember if you would like to get involved in learning, improve your skills and understanding give MHA a ring to see how the Work and Skills Wise project can help you.

5.10 Come Along to MHA’s Open Morning... Monmouthshire housing association will be holding an information event on Thursday the 19th of January from 12pm until 2.30pm at the MHA Headquarters.

There will be a range of organisations and advisors present to speak with you about skills, training, job opportunities, self employment and much much more.

If you want to learn more about any of the information in the newsletter pop along.

To find out more please contact Laura Denyer on 01495 767196

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


5.0 Work & Skills Wise

5.11 What the Work Programme can offer...

You will have heard on the news the changes that are expected with Jobseekers allowance, Employment Allowance and a number of other benefits. This article helps explain some of the changes we are expecting in the form of the work program, to help you better understand what changes are a foot and where to get further advice and assistance.

What is it?... A programme to help you prepare for, find and stay in work. The focus is on jobs that last, getting people off benefits.

How will it affect you?... The programme is for people on JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and ESA (Employment Support Allowable) especially. The point at which you get involved will depend on your circumstances and how long you have been claiming. However, there can be earlier access for some people after 3 months of unemployment or if you are getting ready to return to work after illness, for example.

What will it offer you?... The programme will include support for individual needs of each customer. It can offer work experience, mentor support, volunteering and training to help you meet your employment goals. Extra efforts will be made to provide support for the hardest to help, e.g single parents. You will get great tailored support, action plans and goals, helping you take steps into employment.

In summary... The Work Programme is a change of current employment programmes. It replaces the wide range of existing programmes, pilots and projects, to offer one single programme for customers, provided locally and with flexibility. For further advice, contact your nearest citizens Advice Bureau, or Job Centre Plus on 0845 600 0345.

Money Matters - 2011 Edition


6.0 Get Involved

6.0 Get Involved With Money Matters... This newsletter was written for you as the reader. If you have any comments, improvements of suggestions or if would like to include an article about a problem that you have had – please get in touch and we can feature it in our next newsletter. (You can remain anonymous if you would like).

Remember, as a tenant, there are a number of other ways to get involved with the running of MHA. To find out more please ring Rob Carey 01495 761115 or email rob.carey@ We look forward to hearing from you

Contact Farida Aslam on 01495 761116 or email farida.aslam@monmouthshirehousing.

6.1 Getting Involved Can Bring Happiness...

MHA actively encourages it tenants to get involved in a range of activities be that training and education courses, opportunities to get involved at the tenants forum and have your say or in meetings which discuss how we can better deliver our services. Money Matters - 2011 Edition


It is as a result of this that two resident of MHA met at the MHA headquarters a number of months ago – the two residents exchanged telephone numbers and have, over several months been dating. The couple have now decided to get engaged, we take this opportunity to wish the couple every success.

7.0 Christmas Tips

7.0 Tips to Avoid a Christmas Hangover...

Christmas is supposed to be a time full of happiness, joy and of course that all important Christmas dinner and the fun of giving presents to our loved ones. However, as we all know Christmas can be expensive. Some of us may find ourselves struggling financially. So here are a number of tips to help you along the way:

Plan Early • Be realistic. Manage expectations as to what you or Santa can give.

Don’t Bank on an Overdraft • Don’t run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first. This will lead to bank charges and cost a lot of money.

Shop Around • Look at as many different places as possible to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.

Avoid Using Credit Cards • Using catalogues, store cards and credit cards will lead to paying out more in the long term due to charges such as interest.

Don’t Forget Everyday Bills • Even though it may be Christmas, don’t ignore your day to day bills such as rent and utility bills. Ignoring these will lead to consequences such as court action.

If you would like some more information on planning and budgeting for Christmas please go to the following website: toptipschristmas If you would like more information or financial help contact Matt and Hayley for further support - Merry Christmas from MHA! Money Matters - 2011 Edition


Complete it and be in with a chance of winning the prize...

The words you need to find are... • APR

• Direct Debits

• Pay-Day-Loans

• Bargain Hunters

• English

• Tips

• Benefits

• Insurance

• Voluntary

• Bursary

• Interest Rates

• Welsh Water

• Computer

• Maths

• Work

• Courses

• Mobiles

• Work Skills

• Customer Service • Moneywise

Money Matters <Edition.3> December 2011  

Money Matters <Edition.3> December 2011

Money Matters <Edition.3> December 2011  

Money Matters <Edition.3> December 2011