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Get free confidential advice

Do you have money worries or want to make the most of your money but aren’t sure where to go for advice and support? We can help. There is plenty of free, confidential and local advice available to help you:

Advice Portsmouth, supported by Portsmouth City Council, can help you if you are not sure what to do. It is for anyone who lives or works in Portsmouth. It offers free, confidential and local advice on bills, benefits, debt, housing and employment issues.  Call 023 9279 4340, text 07789 550593 or email advice.portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk.

Citizens Advice Portsmouth have a team of specialist money advisers on hand to advise and support you with all of your money and debt queries. To speak with a specialist money adviser call 023 9400 6600 or email contactus@caportsmouth.org.uk

If you’re a city council tenant, you can get advice on money and benefits from your housing officer, who has access to specialist money advice.

If you are struggling to afford food, there are several local foodbanks and community food projects that can help.

If worrying about money is affecting your mental wellbeing, there are local services that can give you help and support. The mental health charity Mind also has helpful tips and information about how to manage anxiety around bills, organise your finances and understand your money and mood patterns.

Check which benefits you're entitled to

A change in your household or your work situation are just two reasons why you may be missing out on benefits support you’re entitled to. Universal Credit and other payments, such as Council Tax Support, are designed to help you when you need them most.

Don’t be put off if you’re unsure how to apply or are confused about the changes to Universal Credit. Help is on hand to check what you could be entitled to and make sure you know how to apply. If you want to find out more:

If you are a city council tenant, you can get advice on claiming benefits from your housing officer

Here are some extra help you might not know you can apply for:

Reduction to Universal Credit

In October, the standard allowance of Universal Credit was reduced by £20 per week (£86.67 per month).

In December, the calculation of Universal Credit was changed to allow people who are working to keep more of their earnings, but there was no increase for anyone who is out of work.

To find out if you would be better off in work, or if you increase your earnings, use a free online benefit calculator such as Turn2us or Entitledto.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Benefits calculator (entitledto.co.uk)

If you can’t replace this lost income, there are three steps you can take to get back on track with your finances:

  1. Check you are receiving everything you are entitled to
  2. Find ways to reduce your bills and household spending
  3. Get free and independent debt advice to help you manage any unaffordable debts

Employment and pay

Check your payslip to make sure you are receiving at least the minimum wage for your ageCheck your tax code and any deductions being taken from your pay are correct.  If you don’t have a trade union but need advice on your rights at work, you can contact the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100.

If you are being made redundant, find about about your rights and the help available to find a new job .  Specialist help is available before you are made redundant, and for up to 13 weeks after redundancy.

New skills can lead to better jobs at every stage of life. Discover hundreds of opportunities to learn new skills from essential numeracy to advanced technical qualifications. Many of the courses are free.

Portsmouth’s community learning service provides adult education locally.

Get support with debts

If you’re struggling with unmanageable debt, you’re not alone. You might feel like you don’t want to talk about it, but getting help to manage your debts can make you feel a lot better, and let you take back control of your finances. So the sooner you seek support, the better.

You don’t need to pay for debt advice. Don’t borrow more money if you’re struggling to pay your debts; instead, get free advice and get back on track.

A debt adviser will:

  • keep everything you say confidential
  • never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation
  • always be happy to talk to you, however small or big your problem is
  • suggest ways of dealing with debts that you might not know about
  • check you have applied for all the benefits and entitlements available to you (they will need details of your current income, any savings, housing costs and Council Tax)
  • give advice about better ways of managing your money
  • tell you if the new Debt Breathing Space could give you more time to find the right debt solution

Tips for getting on top of debt:

  • Work out what you owe on each of your debts
  • Work out which debts are a priority – Money Helper explains how to prioritise your debts
  • Use a Budget Planner to make sure you know what money you have coming in, and what you are spending it on
  • Work out what you can afford to pay, and speak to the people you owe money to

Make sure your plan to clear your debts is realistic and one that you can stick to. Money helper has lots of information and tips to help you regain control of your debts.

If you borrowed money that you could not afford to pay back, you may be entitled to have those debts written off, or receive compensation for the repayments you made. Debt Camel has a useful page on refunds for unaffordable loans, or you can speak to a debt adviser for help with this.

Keep your bills and everyday costs down

Make sure you’re not paying more than you need to on bills and everyday costs, like gas, electricity and everyday essentials:

If gambling is affecting you, or those close to you, get free, confidential and non-judgemental advice and support from GamCare – call free on 0808 8020 133, or use their free self-help resources.

If you borrowed money that you could not afford to repay because of problems with gambling, you may be entitled to a refund.  This guide from Debt Camel explains what you can do.

Private sector tenants and homeowners

If your landlord is not doing enough to maintain your home, or if you own your own home but cannot afford to bring it up to a decent standard – contact the Private Sector Housing Team for help and advice.

Electric heaters can be loaned for short term emergencies, these are expensive for households to run so should only be used in an emergency. Phone 023 9268 8369 or email housing.privatesector@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Help for council tenants

If you’re struggling to keep your home warm, or to meet the cost of your energy bills, contact your local housing office. They can check whether any improvements are needed in your home, and give you advice about your bills.

Housing association tenants

Contact your housing association customer service team and ask about help to make your home more energy efficient.

Priority Services Register

If you:

  • are 66 years old or more, or
  • have a long term disability or health condition, or
  • could be vulnerable for any other reason,

Let your energy company know, and ask to be added to their free Priority Services Register.

If you are a homeowner and:

  • you are registered for Priority Services, or
  • you have children under five and are receiving certain benefits,

You should also be eligible for a free annual gas safety check. Contact your gas supplier to request one.

Warm Home Discount

This is a one-off payment of £140, made each winter, towards your electricity bill or meter. Find out on the Gov.Uk website if your electricity supplier is part of the scheme, and if so, whether you will receive this automatically, or if you are eligible to apply for it because you are on a low income. If you need to apply, do it as soon as possible, as there is a limited amount of funds available.

Make your money go further

Do you know how much all of your outgoings come to each week, and how much you have left to spend?

Write down or use the Money Helper online budget planner to record every penny you spend in a month, including all your bills, like rent or mortgage, council tax, gas and electric, as well as all your shopping for food, toiletries clothes etc.

Then, write down all the money you have coming in, including wages, benefits, pensions etc. When you compare the two, do you have enough money coming in to match what is going out? If not, don’t panic – here’s what you might be able to do:

Set a savings goal so you have a safety net for emergencies.

Help for people in financial hardship - directory

Money problems? Struggling to afford household essentials, like furniture or food? Use the help for people in financial hardship directory to look for local and national services that could help.