Category Archives: Financial & Poverty Avoidance Advice

MONEY: Free Energy Advice

LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) can help you to save money and keep your home warm and cosy.

If you’re eligible, you will get a FREE home visit from a friendly, qualified Home Energy Advisor.

LEAP can:

  • Help check if you are on the cheapest energy tariffs
  • Install FREE, simple energy saving measures
  • Give you day-to-day energy efficiency hints and tips
  • Ensure your heating system is set up to keep you warm and save money.
  • Arrange a FREE telephone advice service to help with benefits, debt and other money problems.
  • Refer you for further energy efficiency improvements, such as loft insulation or a new boiler.

Are you eligible?

You may be eligible for the LEAP service if one of the below apply. If you:
• have a low income
• receive tax credits
• receive Housing Benefit
• receive an income or disability related benefit
• have a long term illness or disability.

Download the LEAP flyer for full details

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MONEY: Avoid Bank Scams

Banking telephone Scams are on the increase. It’s always wise to know as much about potential Scams as possible, so here’s some advice on avoiding banking Scams.

Don’t throw out anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding it first. – This will protect you from ID Fraud.

If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Most banks will not approach their customers in this manner.

If you are concerned about the source of a banking call, hang up. Make sure if you call your bank to check it was them, before you make the call check for a dialling tone BEFORE dialling their number. The number will be on printed on your bank statements.

Check your statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the bank or credit company concerned.

Your bank will never come to your home address to collect you or to collect you bank cards. Some scammers will tell you that you have been a subjected to bank fraud and ask for your pin number. NEVER EVER give this number to anyone. Your bank will never ask customer for these details.

If you’re expecting a bank or credit card statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank or Credit Card Company.

Don’t leave things like bills lying around for others to look at.

If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.

Get regular copies of your credit report from a credit reference agency.

For further information please contact your Calderdale Crime Prevention Officers on 101.

ADVICE: Pensioners in Brighouse

There will be a pensioner ‘Advice and Information Fair’ on Friday 2 November, 10:00am-2:00pm at Brighouse Civic Hall, Bradford Road HD6 1RW.

Hosted by Craig Whittaker MP there will 40 different organisations attending including Calderdale Council, Together Housing, Citizens Advice and many more. It will give you a chance to find out what help, support and activities are available if you are retired or approaching retirement.

FINANCE: Care Costs Compared

Research collated by Age UK indicates that the average cost of residential care varies drastically depending on where in the UK you live, creating a postcode lottery for vulnerable people in need of care.

In 2016/7, the divide between counties in the North and South of England was as much as £230 a week in some cases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London was found to be the most expensive region to obtain residential care, at a weighted average of £741 a week, whereas the North West was the least expensive at £511. Funding support may be available from your local council if you need help paying for your care.

 

MONEY: Make the most of your Savings

New from Age UK, this is a great set of tips, by personal finance expert John Husband, on making the most of your savings.

You can find a lot more financial advice on the Age UK website

1. Make it a Date
To make sure you save regularly, set up a monthly payment into a savings account. Also, whenever you get a pay or pension increase, increase the amount you save – this makes saving near painless.

To work out how much you can save, keep a check of every penny you spend for a month, then set a budget that covers all the essentials and see how much is left.

2. Be prepared
Your first priority should be to build up a ‘rainy day’ reserve for emergencies. Ideally aim for 3 months’ income in accounts you can draw on immediately.

3. Take aim
Saving is easier if you set yourself goals such as paying for a holiday, Christmas, presents, a car or your dream retirement home.

4. Beat the taxman
Remember that as of April 2016, the new Personal Savings Allowance means that the first £1,000 of interest earned on savings is tax-free for basic-rate taxpayers, and for higher-rate taxpayers, the first £500 of interest is tax-free.

If you’re a taxpayer, you can use Individual Savings Accounts – ISAs – to put your money beyond reach. You can put up to £20,000 into a cash ISA this tax year – and your partner can do the same. An ideal home for that rainy day reserve.

If your spouse is a non-taxpayer, or pays less tax than you, it’s possible to reduce or even avoid paying tax altogether by putting your savings in their name.

5. Be a detective
Start by finding the ‘Best Buy’ savings tables in your newspaper, or on money comparison websites.

Now for the detective work. Better rates are offered on accounts operated on the internet or by phone only. If you’re not comfortable with that weed those out.

Many ‘best buy’ rates are inflated by temporary bonuses paid for anything from 3-12 months. Exclude those where the bonus lasts for less than a year.

Now, check what access the account offers. Fixed notice and fixed term accounts pay more, but that’s no good if your money is beyond reach when you need it. So be sure that enough of your savings are accessible in an emergency.

6. Sleep tight
No investment is worth sleepless nights, so don’t put your money with providers you don’t know or are uncertain of, simply because they offer fantastic rates.

Remember the Icelandic banks! If a deal looks too good to be true it usually is.

7. Disloyalty pays
Few providers offer better terms to loyal customers nowadays. Most sucker you in with a great deal hoping you’ll be too lazy to move your money when the deal ends.

So shop around regularly to be sure you still have the best paying account. If you have one with a temporary bonus put the expiry date in your diary.

8. Beware the inflation dragon
Few accounts pay rates that match, let alone beat, inflation. You’ll need to shop around for savings accounts with good interest rates. Otherwise the only sure way to protect yourself is to invest in real assets, such as buying your home – if you can afford to.

AGE UK: Thinking about end of life

“Thinking about end of life” is a new guide from Age UK. It is for those who want to plan ahead and get their affairs in order, or those that have a life-limiting illness and want to know their support options as their illness progresses.

What the guide is about

Thinking about the end of life can be difficult, but being well informed can help you consider all your options at a time that’s right for you. Taking steps now can give you confidence that your wishes are documented so that people close to you know what you would want if the time came when you could no longer make your own decisions.

Making plans now can make things easier for those close to you down the line. And remember, you can always change your plans. If you know you have a life-limiting illness, this guide also
explains what options and services could be available as your illness progresses. If this applies to you it will help to know the questions to ask so you can you make the best choices for you.

It explains how to make your wishes and treatment preferences known, and helps you consider where you would like to be looked after towards the end of your life. You may have already put some plans in place, and there may be some things that you don’t feel ready to plan for yet.

Planning for the end of your life is a very sensitive and personal experience so pick out the sections in this guide that are relevant to you.

Download/Read the guide

Age UK also produces LifeBook, a handy book where you can keep useful information in one place. For your free copy, please call them on 0845 685 1061.

GUIDE: Choosing A Care Home

Choosing a care home, either for yourself or for a relative or friend can seem like a daunting challenge. However, there are professionals who can advise you and a number of web-based tools that can make the process a lot easier and allow you to make a decision based on a broad spread of information.

What Do Care homes Provide? Support provided in a care home can involve: help with eating, washing, bathing, dressing and toilet needs, and caring for you if you become ill. Some homes provide services for people with more complex needs, including nursing care.

Choosing a Care Home: Choosing a care home is an important decision. You need to choose one that is right for you, both now and in the future. You can get advice from a social worker, district nurse or your family doctor. Alternatively, you can use a range of online tools to help you make the decision:

  • Calderdale Council: For a list of all the care homes in Calderdale, their contact details, information about the service they provide and links to their Care Quality Commission reports, visit the Calderdale Council’s website, where the information is stored in their Social Care and Wellbeing Hub. Calderdale Council also provide other key info on Care Homes on their website:
    Financial Guide to moving into a care home
    Gateway to Care – all Calderdale’s main care services are now under Gateway to Care.
  • Quality Care Commission (CQC) Map of Care Homes. The Quality Care Commission (CQC) has produced a map of inspection ratings for care  homes. The map is very easy to use and each care home marked on the map has an accompanying rating and report. You can search by postcode to find services near you.
  • Age UK: There is a lot of useful information about choosing a Care Home on the AgeUK website including a guide and a checklist which can be downloaded.