Top Tips If You Are Struggling With Money This Winter

Christmas is coming and cold weather is around the corner, just as we begin to see a significant rise in energy prices.

Many households across Burnley and Pendle will feel the strain on their budgets over the next few months as household bills increase and the frenzy of Christmas shopping begins.

To help you start thinking about ways to cope financially this winter, here are our top tips for managing your money.

Plan Ahead and Get Advice Early

Plan what you want to spend on Christmas presents and other festive expenses and make sure you stick to it. You’re much more likely to control your outgoings if you plan ahead and set limits on what you will spend. You might also want to talk to family members to manage expectations.

It’s never too early to budget either. Once the stress of this Christmas is over, savings schemes through financial service providers, such as credit unions, can help you spread the cost of Christmas 2022 across the year.

If you’re already in debt, don’t bury your head in the sand and hope problems will sort themselves out. The earlier you speak to us about your money problems, the more options will be available to you. If you are getting behind with bills, call our Debt Helpline on 0800 240 4420.

Our advisers can help you take control of your money, support you in preparing a budget, and make sure you avoid the debt spiral. They will help you negotiate payment plans with creditors and look at ways to maximise your income. When you call for money advice, a debt adviser will always…

… Check You Are Claiming All the Benefits You Are Entitled To

You might think you’re already claiming everything you are entitled to, but we often find people have missed something or haven’t informed the relevant benefit office about a change in circumstances that increases their income.

In some cases, applying for one benefit means you become entitled to another. You might be able to get help towards other expenses, such as travel costs for hospital appointments, if you’re in receipt of certain benefits.

You can call Citizens Advice for help with a benefit calculation — or do one yourself by using an online calculator such as Turn2Us or EntitledTo. We can help you figure out what other schemes might be available to help you reduce your expenses too.

Reduce Your Energy Bills or Get Help Towards Fuel Debts

If you are in debt, it is worth checking to see whether your energy company runs an energy fund. Most of the big companies do. As well as helping to pay off arrears for fuel debts, they sometimes provide grants towards white goods. If your supplier doesn’t have its own fund, the British Gas Energy Trust Fund is available to customers of all energy companies. Contact Citizens Advice if you think you qualify — you normally need to be receiving money advice before the application will be considered.

The Warm Homes Discount is a £140 grant paid by the government towards energy bills. If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you’ll be paid this automatically. If you are in receipt of other benefits, such as Universal Credit or ESA, you should check your supplier’s website to see if you qualify under their ‘broader group’ criteria.

Shop Around for the Best Deals

In particular, look for better deals for online subscriptions, phone contracts, broadband, insurance policies, and other household bills. Often these types of contract come with great initial prices that become less attractive once the introductory period ends.

Use price comparison websites and check the terms and conditions of your current contracts. This will help you find the best price and ensure you are able to leave your current provider without incurring large fees.

Make Use of Technology

If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone there are plenty of apps and online tools that can help you plan your spending, find the best price, offer discount codes, and provide hints and tips for cutting costs. Make the most of these services and try different applications to figure out what works best for you.

Check Your Tax Code

If you recently started work, or you left or started a job part way through the year, you might find you are on the wrong tax code. If you are, you may have overpaid tax and be due a refund.

If you paid too much tax last year, you should be notified soon and be contacted by HMRC. However, if you suspect you might have overpaid, it’s worth checking to be sure. You can get a tax refund for the current year by telling HMRC your tax code is wrong.

The quickest and easiest way to report a change is by setting up an online Personal Tax Account. If you struggle with the internet or would like advice on how to do this, Burnley and Pendle Citizens Advice offer digital support and you can contact them on 01282 616 750 to book an appointment with an HMRC adviser.

Help to Save Accounts

This is a long-term option, for those who currently work while claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit. You can pay up to £50 per month into these accounts and the government will give you a 50p bonus for every £1 you save. You can save in the account for up to four years with bonuses paid after the second and fourth year.

The government pays the bonus on the highest amount you save, even if you withdraw the money. So, if you can only save for a few months, you can still withdraw the funds and receive a 50% bonus on whatever you managed to save.

How to Get Help

For debt advice call 0800 240 4420

For Citizens Advice’s HMRC service call 01282 616 750 or email

For any other issue, Citizens Advice’s Adviceline service is available on 0800 144 8848



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