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Money Advice

The government’s contract with the Post Office to provide Post Office Card Accounts ends in November 2021. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been asking those who have their benefits (including State Pension) paid into a Post Office Card Account to provide details of an alternative bank, building society or credit union account. 

Claimants need to ring the DWP Customer Service centre on 0800 085 7133 to provide new account details.

Those who have not provided new account details will start to receive their payments via the Payment Exception service instead. This new arrangement will start from the end of August 2021.

How we can help

We want to make sure that you can get the right kind of help to encourage you to manage your money and have access to basic financial services – this is known as financial inclusion.

Before your tenancy starts

We are working to ensure you get a full benefit check before your tenancy starts. We also look at the true cost of your tenancy, showing you how much money you will need to make available to cover rent, council tax and bills. We also offer budgeting skills training.

Increasing your income

For information about the benefits you may be entitled to, including money to pay your rent see Benefits.

Debt advice

We work with the Citizens AdviceNational Debt Helpline and Payplan  and can refer you to them for free impartial advice.

From 9 January, Citizens Advice Colchester are launching a weekly, walk in surgery every Thursday at the Greenstead Housing Office on Hawthorn Avenue, Greenstead between 10am-2pm. Their usual range of advice and support will be available including:

  • Help with dealing with debts
  • Help with applying for benefits including Universal Credit
  • Help with consumer services

If you owe us rent then get in touch with us as soon as you have a problem and we will try to help you.

Borrowing

Beware of doorstep lenders and loan sharks (illegal lenders) – as you usually pay very high interest rates. To help you avoid this, we have an agreement with the Colchester Credit Union. Credit Unions are non-profit organisations that provide affordable loans and offer bill paying and savings services.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have released a new animation to raise awareness of loan sharks and promote credit unions as a safer alternative.

Reducing costs

For information on how to reduce your energy bills visit our Energy Saving Page.

We also promote low cost home contents insurance with Royal Sun Alliance. Please ask us for the leaflet and application form which provides further details including costs.

You can often save money by buying online or setting up direct debits. We may be able to help you apply for a bank account if you need one.

Looking for Work

For information and support in looking for work visit Find a job service.

Signpost

Signpost are a local charity providing employability support to those living in the Colchester area. We provide help with CV writing, job searching, interview skills and setting up Find A Job accounts.

We currently provide two programmes funded through the Community Fund and European Social Fund. HeadsUp offers employability support for anyone suffering from common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Community Connections Essex offers employability support for anyone suffering from a disability or long term health condition. Both programmes provide one-to-one support via a peer mentor.

Learn Your Way is a drop in session to encourage and improve computer skills every Wednesday afternoon between 1pm and 3pm.

Signpost Work Club is a drop in session every Friday afternoon between 1pm and 3pm providing support with job searching and applying for jobs.

To find out more please call us on 01206 861800 or take a look at our Facebook page.

Need free impartial advice on financial matters?

Our Financial Inclusion Team are here to help

If you need help and guidance on any kind of financial matter from opening a bank account to making a claim for Housing Benefit, then Colchester Borough Homes’ Financial Inclusion Team (FIT) staff can help.

FIT staff are on hand to offer friendly advice on all kinds of financial matters including:

  • advice about Housing Benefit claims and Local Council Tax Support claims
  • advice on how to claim welfare benefits
  • assisting with paperwork to bring claims to fruition
  • offering help with accessing a basic bank account
  • offering budgeting advice
  • offering advice to maximise income
  • supporting Gateway to Homechoice applications to downsize
  • supporting  tenants who are in rent arrears and struggling to pay their rent
  • making referrals to Colchester Foodbank
  • liaising with Property Services to provide energy efficient homes for tenants

If you have a question or need advice please email the team at FIT@cbhomes.org.uk

Jigna Marzell

Financial Inclusion Officer

Help with financial support, welfare reform and bank accounts

Neil Wilks

Housing Benefits Officer

Help and advice with Housing Benefit and LCTS enquiries

Claire Cunningham

Welfare Rights Officer

Help and support with welfare rights and benefits

Struggling to pay your Gas, Electric and Water bills? Or have debt with your energy provider?

The Green Doctors can help you.

Groundwork’s Green Doctor is an energy efficiency expert who visits homes throughout Colchester, helping vulnerable households to save money and stay warm and well. With 1 in 10 households in the UK experiencing fuel poverty, it’s a crucial lifeline for many residents.

The Green Doctors work with utility companies, housing associations and local authorities to support programmes aimed at reducing wasted energy, saving energy and water and cutting the number of households in fuel poverty. Green Doctors give people a helping hand in the home to save money and resources.

These are some of the free services they offer when you sign up for a Green Doctors consultation:

  • Identifying causes of heat loss in your home.
  • Helping identify and tackle damp or mould problems.
  • Offering useful tips for saving energy and water whilst ensuring your home stays safe and comfortable.
  • Installing small energy and water efficiency measures, such as draft excluders.
  • Supporting you to switch energy providers to save money.
  • Supporting you to access other support, such as emergency heating, government subsidies or grants, advice on energy or water debt.

They don’t just offer advice, they take practical action too, from fitting water conservation measures to helping people fill in forms to apply for grants or switch energy providers.

Many people are struggling with their bills or living in cold, damp homes, will be dealing with a wide range of issues from health conditions to loneliness. The Green Doctors are trained experts who spot issues like these and refer people to the right local service.

To find out how the Green Doctors could help you, please click on the link below.

https://www.groundwork.org.uk/cadent-foundation-green-doctor/