I would like advice on maximising my income and paying for housing costs
You should complete a budget detailing your income and expenditure. The Housing Options Team can refer you to Citizens Advice for a financial health check. You may also use websites with a budget planner such as the Money Advice Service. These services offer free, impartial money advice.
Expand the links below to view information about other support services
If you are on a low income Turn2Us is invaluable for checking your benefit entitlement and for identifying grants and funds available to you when additional help is needed.
If you have debt it is essential that you get advice for how it is best managed. Citizens Advice are well trained to do this. You may also access online services such as StepChange or National Debtline useful as sources to get initial advice anonymously.
If you are in receipt of benefits or on a low income, you will need to be aware of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This is the maximum amount of benefit that you will get paid toward your rent. This may be a housing element paid to your Universal Credit claim from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or a separate claim for housing benefit from the local council. You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you are unemployed or working.
The Essential Living Fund is a grant system and is open for anyone to claim for help with household goods, clothing or general living expenses. You can apply online or over the phone on 0300 790 0124.
Purpose of the fund
The Homelessness Prevention Fund is awarded to help respond to homelessness in the area. The fund may issue grants, loans or bond agreements dependant on an applicant's financial situation. The use of the fund is broad, flexible and discretionary; payments from the fund can only be made in the following circumstances:
- Beneficiaries must have made a homelessness application to the Council
- Payment must be relation to performing statutory duty to prevent or relieve homelessness
- Beneficiaries should have a local connection to Uttlesford as prescribed in homelessness legislation
- Other funding streams must have been explored
Utilising the fund
In order for an applicant to make use of the fund, the following steps need to be followed:
- Homelessness application completed and documented
- Applicants needs are assessed, a Personal Housing Plan completed and a duty to prevent or relieve homelessness is accepted by a Housing Options Officer
- Housing Options Officer identifies client who may benefit from accessing the Homelessness Prevention Fund and provides advice to the purpose of the fund and eligibility for it
- Housing Options Officer to consider if eligibility is dependent on engagement with another support or advice service
- The fund can only be used to access or maintain accommodation which is suitable for the applicant, a Housing Options Officer will assess suitability
- Once a specific use for the fund has been identified an income and expenditure sheet must be completed to assess financial circumstances and advise the applicant if access to the fund will be recommended on the terms of a loan, grant or a combination of these options
- Rent deposits are normally agreed under a bond scheme
- The Housing Options Team Leader needs to agree all payments from the Homelessness Prevention Fund
Applicants are unlikely to eligible for assistance if an existing debt under the Council's rent deposit scheme or homelessness prevention fund has not been satisfactorily addressed. Further checks will be required to assess if further assistance is appropriate.
Local Council Tax Support will be assessed by the local council. Uttlesford also have an exceptional hardship fund which can be used to help reduce the amount of council tax you have to pay in exceptional circumstances; you will need to ensure you have taken reasonable steps to resolve your own situation.
A Discretionary Housing Payment may also be awarded to people in receipt of benefits toward their housing costs and need extra help for a short period.
Lenderhand offers grants to people in need. They recognise that day-to-day life can be tough and take applications from people who are struggling and need something desperately to make life a little easier.
Harlowsave is a credit union which has been helping people for more than 20 years with loans for anything from a pair of shoes to a housing deposit. It is a community-based savings and loan co-operative. This means that local people save with them and they can then loan the money to other local people - it really is that simple.
Local charities situated across Uttlesford offer help to those who may be experiencing hardship and poverty. Local charities tend to for the particular benefit of local people in a particular town or village, so it is best to find the charity for the area to which you have a connection. You can access most of these charities through Uttlesford Citizens Advice or ask the Housing Options Team for the contact details.
Sophie's Fund is a charity that supports people who are struggling financially and who are local to Uttlesford. Grants are usually up to the value of £50, but larger sums will be considered in exceptional circumstances.
How to get furniture and white goods for FREE. Finding a property and moving in can be expensive, recycling is fun and you can have a creative interior unlike any other. Charity shops and car boot sales can be an excellent place to find kitchen utensils, small items of furniture and other essentials. Always consider looking on eBay and Freecycle first before buying new. Another option to consider is Epping Forest ReUSE. This is an organisation that sells furniture, white goods and household items to the general public at affordable prices. If you are on income based benefits you may purchase at a discount, or may even receive the goods for free. If you apply for the Essential Living Fund then you can get a voucher to use at ReUSE for free goods. Items can be delivered to your home.
If you are not in employment then you need to be engaging with your work coach at the DWP to get a job. If you are employed already then explore if there are more hours or more hours available. Consider if you are able to take on an additional job too.