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Benefits and financial issues - 10 Top Tips



This article has been adapted from a feature in the February edition of the MS Society newsletter for professionals.

Although this article has been written from an MS perspective, the tips below will often apply for those living with other disabilities and conditions.

Please click on the links below for further information.


10 tips to help with everyday costs 

We know the cost of living crisis is causing challenges for people affected by MS. The MS Society Helpline Benefits Advisers can be contacted on 0808 800 8000

 

1. Help with your rent if you receive benefits  

If you get Universal Credit Housing Element or Housing Benefit to help with renting costs, there might be extra support available too.  If these benefits don’t cover your full rent, you might qualify for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). These can help you pay a shortfall in your rent. They’re usually short-term payments. You can apply through your local council.   

If you apply but you don’t get awarded the DHP payment, you can challenge the decision. To do that, ask for a revision or write a complaint.


2. Help with your mortgage if you receive benefits  

If you get Universal Credit or income-related ESA, you might qualify for help with your mortgage payments. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

SMI is a loan. You’ll need to repay the money with interest, but not until you sell or transfer ownership of your home. An SMI loan can help pay the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage.  

You may want to get financial advice before applying for SMI. You can get free mortgage and money advice from Money Helper by calling 0800 138 7777. Or you can visit the Money Helper website for more information.  

 

3. Council Tax Support   

If you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to Council Tax Support, or help paying your rates if you’re in Northern Ireland. These reduce your local tax bill. Each local council's scheme is different, and you apply through them. You’re unlikely to be entitled if you have savings over £16,000.   

Click on thIs link to get the ball rolling

 

4. Council Tax discounts  

Do you have a second bathroom you use to meet your needs? Or enough space to use your wheelchair indoors? If so, you may be able to get a disability-related reduction in your Council Tax. This is called the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme.  

If you’re the only adult in your household, you should be entitled to a 25% single person discount on your council tax.   

Click on the link below to check eligibility

 

5. Equipment and practical help  

Some symptoms of MS can make everyday tasks and self-care more challenging. If you get help on a day-to-day basis, you may be able to get care and support from your local council.  

To get this support, you’ll need to ask for a care needs assessment. The results of that  assessment could include recommendations for aids or adaptations to your home to help you do daily tasks. It could also include practical help from a paid carer.  

Once you’ve had a needs assessment, you may qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant – or similar support for equipment or adaptations if you’re in Scotland. A Disabled Facilities Grant comes from your local council and can help you pay for useful adaptations to your home. This could cover things like:  

  • widening doors 

  • installing ramps 

  • installing grab rails  

  • A wet room  

If you live in Wales, you may also qualify for help from the charity Care and Repair.  

More information is available at the council discount rate above


6. Housing advice 

If you need advice on housing rights, rent or mortgage arrears, eviction or disrepair, visit the Citizen's Advice website for free advice. You can also visit Shelter’s website for more free guidance.   https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/

Don’t forget we have regular visits from CAB at the Centre. Please see reception for contact details and dates.

 

7. Everyday budgeting  

Money Helper’s online budget planner to get you started. You can also use comparison websites like Money Saving Expert and Uswitch to check you’re on the cheapest deal for your gas, electricity, phone, mobile and broadband.  

These links might be helpful

Money Helper Budget Planner

Money Saving Expert

USwitch

 

8. Debt 

Owing money can add unwanted stress. If you have debt and you’re struggling with repayments, you can get advice and support from Citizens Advice. And through the National Debtline, you can find out if you can reduce your debt payments.   

Find your local Citizens Advice

National Debt Helpline

 

9. Grants for utility debts  

Expensive energy costs are a big concern for many people. But if you’re struggling to pay gas, electricity or water bills, you can ask your energy provider  or utility provider. Contact details will be on your bill.

 

10. Getting financial support if you have children  

Looking after children while juggling other outgoings can be hard. But you may be eligible for help covering childcare costs. You can find more information on childcare cost support on the Gov.uk website. You may also be eligible for free school meals through your local council or your child’s school

Please also visit Childcare help at gov.uk

 

We hope you have found this blog helpful. The Brightwell plans to run a series of blogs over the coming weeks. These will include looking at eleigibility for PIP, Access to Work and details about more general benefits.

However, in the meantime please do not suffer in silence or have sleepless night. You can talk about your issues in confidence with a member of the Brightwell team and we will endeavour to help or signpost you to where that help can be found.

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