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Problems that can’t be ignored If you have problems paying your bills, don’t ignore your debts. Free independent advice is available from CAB , Toynbee Hall, Island Advice or other local advice agencies. more details below Quest for the best You can check if you are getting the best deal from your mobile, broadband or energy supplier. Go to… www.adviceguide.org.uk News The rising cost of energy, food and housing is putting extra pressure on people’s finances so now is a good time to get your finances in order and seek free help if needed. The council’s financial inclusion team has some tips for residents. MANY people are struggling to make ends meet and while it may not be possible to easily increase your income, you may be able to cut your day-to-day expenses and reduce some non-essential expenditure. A number of basic tips are outlined below that may help. Draw up a personal budget listing all your monthly income and outgoings. You can get help with this at www.national debtline.co.uk and www.moneyadvice service.org.uk This will help you identify if there is anything you can do without or if there any regular expenses that you can reduce. Check you are getting the best deal from your supplier – you could consider switching energy suppliers, change your insurers, switch your broadband provider, change your mobile deal and shop around for cheaper services. Citizens Advice consumer service provides a list of approved online price comparison websites at www.adviceguide.org.uk Don’t borrow more to pay off existing debts –some payday loans charge the equivalent of more than 4,000 per cent in annual interest. It’s far better to seek advice and to try to reduce your spending. If you do need to borrow money but are unable to get a bank loan, credit unions can help. There are three branches of London Community Credit Union in the borough. For details see www.londoncu.co.uk or call 7729 9218. If you still have problems paying your bills, prioritise which payments you make. Paying the rent or mortgage is more important than paying off your credit card. If you are having problems paying your bills, don’t ignore them. Contact your creditors to make arrangements and seek independent free advice from CAB, Toynbee Hall, Island Advice Centre or other local advice agencies in the borough. Citizens Advice Bureau MORE people than ever before took out payday loans as a last resort to pay for Christmas last month. But money troubles don’t go away by themselves, so if you’re struggling to pay your bills, act quickly and seek advice. There are many online tools available – www.adviceguide.org.uk has lots of information including a budgeting tool. For those who prefer a little more support, or who don’t use the internet, your local CAB can help. Ali Halil, supervisor at Tower Hamlets Citizens Advice Bureau , explained: “We can help. If you are in debt, we can assist you in drawing up a budget. We can check to It pays to seek help when you can’t make ends meet see if you can increase your income in any way, such as by claiming extra benefits or tax credits or by correcting tax codes. “We can then make sure you aren’t paying over the odds for things like gas and electricity and show you how to prioritise your spending to make sure there is money for essentials like rent, mortgage, energy bills and council tax. “And if you are in debt we try to help you work out an affordable payment plan to present to your creditors. “If you have very little income left after paying your essentials, many non-priority creditors (such as credit card companies) are willing to accept smaller monthly payments. And even if you have no money to offer, there are still options available.” He added: “At CAB we offer free confidential advice that is independent. We won’t judge you and there is no need to feel embarrassed. Please don’t suffer in silence.” THCAB is based at 32 Greatorex Street, Whitechapel. You can also email tower hamlets@eastendcab.org.uk or call 7247 1050 or the advice line on 0844 826 9699. Toynbee Hall LAST year the Toynbee Hall debt advice team helped more than 1,000 local people deal with debt problems. In addition to their general debt advice, its Tenancy Talks Tower Hamlets programme offers one-to-one support for private tenants affected by the changes in the welfare system. Dolly Galvis, head of advice services at Toynbee Hall, said: “We have experts trained to support and advise people with debt issues. “We understand how stressful financial issues can be and do everything we can to help the people who come to us.” Dolly added: “The message from all of us at Toynbee Hall is don’t struggle with debt and financial issues alone. We have people who can see you as a matter of urgency – either call us or come and see us at one of our advice surgeries.” If you need help with debts or financial issues call the advice team on 7392 2953 or email advice@toynbeehall.org.uk East End Energy Fit Team AS many families struggle to pay rising fuel bills this winter, some may find they are getting into debt with electricity and gas bills as costs spiral out of control. The East End Energy Fit Team at Bromley by Bow Centre can help clients with fuel debts, and provides advice on reducing energy Where to go for help Citizens Advice Bureau – 32 Greatorex Street, Whitechapel, E1 Tel: 7247 1050 www.eastendcab.org.uk Island Advice Centre – Island House, Roserton Street, Isle of Dogs, E14 Tel: 7987 9379 www.island-advice.org.uk Toynbee Hall Debt Advice Service – 28 Commercial Street, E1 Tel: 7392 2953 www.toynbeehall.org.uk East End Energy Fit Project – Bromley by Bow Centre, St Leonard’s Street, E3 Tel: 8709 9737 www.bbbc.org.uk National telephone helplines and websites National debt line – 0808 808 4000 www.nationaldebtline.co.uk StepChange debt charity – 0800 138 1111 www.stepchange.org.uk usage checking tariffs and changing supplier. They can also help residents with fuel debts meet one-off expenses for example with grants for cookers or washing machines. The team assisted more than 600 households in the past year. If you or someone you know is struggling to pay back your debt or would like some help in reducing your bills, contact the East End Energy Fit Team at eastendenergy fit@bbbc.org.uk or call 8709 9745. T.H.E. Community Power The council is also helping residents access cheaper energy through T.H.E. Community Power. By buying energy in bulk, the cooperative gives people the chance to switch energy providers and benefit from a cheaper energy tariff. All they have to do is sign up to express their interest in switching energy provider. The scheme is open to everyone and the more households that sign up, the cheaper the rates. To register an interest, with no obligation to switch your energy provider, call 0800 5088364 or go towww.towerhamlets. gov.uk/energy for more information. An advice session at Toynbee Hall 4 NEWS FROM TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL AND YOUR COMMUNITY 3 – 9 FEBRUARY 2014


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