Lots of people are in debt because they don't receive
all the money they are entitled to. Check to see if you can increase
your income. You should also have a look at your expenditure and see
if you can reduce it.
Are you paying too much tax? Check with your local tax office to make sure that you have
the right tax code. Some employees can claim tax relief on work related
expenses. You can get a higher tax allowance if you are registered blind
or were widowed before 5 April 2000. If you are over 65 you can also
get a higher tax allowance. Some maintenance payments also qualify.
Check with your tax office.
A new Children's Tax Credit has been available
since April 2001. You can claim if you have a dependent child under
16. Contact the Children's Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 1036.
The minimum wage - are you paid enough? Check that you are being paid at least the
national minimum wage. The rates for this are changed by Government from time to time. With effect from 1st October 2009 this is £5.80 an
hour if you are aged 22 and over, £4.83
if you are aged 18-21 and £3.57 if you are
under 18 and no longer of compulsory school
age. For information ring the Government
helpline on 0845 6000 678.
Are you getting all the benefits you can? There are a range of different types of benefits which you
might be entitled to. This will depend on your particular circumstances.
You may be able to claim:
benefits based on National Insurance contributions
you have paid. These include Contributory Job Seekers Allowance,
Incapacity Benefit, Pensions and Maternity Benefits.
means-tested benefits. The amount
of help you get depends on how much money you already have coming
into your home. There are also set limits on how much savings
you are allowed to have and still claim. You do not need to
have paid National Insurance Contributions to claim them. They
include Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Tax Credits.
Some benefits are not means tested, nor do you have
to have paid any National Insurance contributions in order to claim
them. These include Child Benefit if you have dependent children. There
are also benefits for people with disabilities such as Disability Living
Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Invalid Care Allowance for their
carers. Whether you can claim any of these benefits will depend upon
the nature of your illness or disability and the effect it has on you.
Working out which benefits
you can claim can be complicated. For more information on benefits:
your local Benefits Agency or a local advice centre.
Can you reduce your expenditure? If you're struggling to make your mortgage payments, or trying
to clear your arrears, one way of increasing the money you have to make
these payments is to reduce your other spending.
Look at your personal
budget again. Go through every item under Expenditure, and
ask yourself these questions:
Do I really need this item?
Can I reduce the amount I spend on it?
Can I replace it with a cheaper alternative?
Are there any recent changes in circumstances
that could affect the payment?