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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.

Help with food

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

Mental health support

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:

  • Healthy Start Vouchers – if you receive certain benefits and are pregnant or have a child under the age of four
  • Free School Meals – if you meet the income criteria and have a school-aged child
  • Council Tax Support – if you are on a low income and pay council tax
  • Council Tax reductions and exemptions – these are based on who is living in the property, not on your income
  • Discretionary housing payments – if you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit with a housing costs element, but can’t afford your rent or the deposit for a new tenancy
  • Warm homes discount – help with your electricity bill during the winter. This webpage from Ofgem, has the most up to date information.
  • Bereavement Support Payment – if you are on a low income and your husband, wife or civil partner has died in the last 21 months.
  • Funeral Expenses Payment – if you are on a low income and are responsible for arranging someone’s funeral
  • Child Trust Fund – the government put between £500 and £1,000 into an account for each child born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011.  You are entitled to access your fund when you turn 18
  • The Portsmouth Leisure Card gives people eligible for means-tested benefits discounts on sports and activities in the city

Tips on benefits

Some deductions from Universal Credit can be reduced if they are causing hardship. Find out what to do about deductions for debt. You can ring the DWP debt management team on 0800 916 0647.

Make sure your benefits aren’t sanctioned. Understand your commitment and make sure your work coach understands your circumstances. See advice on sanctions.

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.  Find out more about deductions. 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 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.

You can check your credit report for free.

Keep your bills and everyday costs down

See a guide to the help the government is providing on energy costs.

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

Travel and transport

Here are some ideas for cutting down on transport costs:

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 £150 towards your electricity bill or meter for people receiving Pension Credit, and for some working age households on low incomes.  The scheme for working age households has changed this year and you no longer need to apply, but you may need to contact your electricity supplier if you think you qualify but are not contacted about this during the autumn or winter. Ofgem’s webpage has more information on the Warm Home Discount.

Make your money go further

Budgeting can make a big difference – see the tips here.

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 or the MSE 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.