We want to make sure that you can get the right kind of help to manage your money. We also want you to have to access to basic financial services.
This will allow you to:
We want to prevent Financial Exclusion
We want to encourage what is called Financial Inclusion. This means people are able to manage their money, and have access to basic financial services.
The government has an ABC of Financial Inclusion:
A is for Advice
Free money advice for people who are in debt
You can get help from our Citizens Advice Bureau money advice service.
B is for Banking
Basic banking services for people without an account
Our Rent and Income team is trained to offer help with finance and bank accounts. Tel: 01206 282514
C is for Credit
Access to affordable loans
Colchester Credit Union
We work in partnership with other organisations to give you the best possible advice. We believe this is the best approach to helping people manage their money. If you have a problem with debt, or owe us rent, then you can get advice from our specialist Rent and Income team, whom you can call on 01206 282514. If you call us as soon as you have a problem, we can help you straightaway.
We can help you get free debt management advice. We work with the Citizens Advice Bureau and the National Debt helpline and refer you to them, so you can get free impartial support and advice.
We have a Welfare Rights Officer, who can give you free advice on what benefits you are entitled to, and how to apply. We contact all our new tenants
to make sure that they are getting the right benefits. If you are getting housing benefit and your circumstances change it is important that you report the changes immediately. If your housing benefit stops, we will get in touch with you. We provide advice and support to allow you to appeal against decisions made by the benefits agencies.
For more information about benefits please see www.cbhomes.org.uk/benefits
A loan shark is someone who lends money without a license from the Office of Fair Trading. It is illegal to run a money lending business without this license. You are not committing a crime if you borrow from a loan shark. If you report them you will not get into trouble. You also cannot legally be made to pay back to the loan shark any money you have borrowed. The average cost of getting money from a loan shark is around three times higher than the highest legal equivalent.
Beware of the dangers of doorstep loans. You usually pay very high interest rates, which are not to your advantage. To help you avoid having to take out a doorstep loan, we have an agreement with a not-for-profit organisation called the Colchester Credit Union. They offer loans of between £50 and £500 at reasonable rates.
Ebico is a not-for-profit company providing gas and electricity, which charges you the same rate no matter how you pay and there are no standing charges. We encourage you to join Ebico at the beginning of your tenancy.
A heating oil company called Boiler Juice could offer you a discount. (www.boilerjuice.com)
We promote home contents insurance with Sun Alliance. The company offers low cost insurance.
We may be able to help you with an application for a bank account.
We want to enable more people to be aware of and use affordable credit and savings facilities through a Credit Union. Credit Unions are organisations that encourage savings
and provide affordable loans to their members. They also offer a bill paying service. We continue to support local Credit Unions as the preferred way of saving. The aim is to reduce reliance on doorstep lenders (who charge very high rates of interest) for such things as school uniforms, Christmas presents and new washing machines.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has an established reputation for providing confidential and professional debt advice. Colchester Borough Homes pays for and manages this
independent service and can refer you to the CAB’s trained advisers.
BEFORE YOUR TENANCY STARTS
We are working with Colchester Borough Council to ensure you get a full benefit check before your tenancy starts. It will also help you see the true cost of your tenancy, showing you how much money you will need to make available to cover rent, council tax, gas and electricity. We will also offer budgeting skills training. We are aiming to provide prospective customers with education about bank and credit union accounts.
SUPPORTING APPLICATIONS FOR WELFARE BENEFITS
We will continue to look for ways of helping people to apply for benefits. The application forms can be long and complex. Many people are put off
applying for benefits because of this. We can give you help and advice about your benefits.
TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
We have signed an agreement with Jobcentre Plus committing us to a local employment partnership to encourage and support recruitment from the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities. We have taken on two people from the employment register on temporary contracts to strengthen the Neighbourhood Wardens team. Their contribution
has been noticed by many customers already. Their work is to maintain health and safety on housing land and to deal with minor but important jobs e.g. cutting back undergrowth and removing rubbish. We want to offer opportunities to young people and others to experience a work environment to strengthen their confidence in the workplace