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You are here: Home Page > Community and Living > Community Advice > Tackling the Credit Crunch

Tackling the Credit Crunch

Bedford Borough Council is working to support local residents and businesses through the difficult economic climate. To help tackle the ‘credit crunch’ we’ve brought together a range of information for residents, homeowners and local businesses. As well as online information we are organising public meetings where you can speak to council staff and find out what we can do to help.

Tips for coping during the recession

1. Don't panic and bury your head in the sand

No matter how desperate things seem, there are ways to manage your debts. Ignoring your debt problems will only make them worse. Don't ignore calls or letters from the people you owe money to (your creditors). Contact them to explain why you're having problems. The sooner you do this, the more options you'll have for solving your financial problems.

2. Pay your priority debts first

There are some debts you need to pay first before others, because the consequences of not paying them can be much more serious. For example, mortgage or rent debts are a priority as if you don't pay these you could lose your home.
 
3. Work out your monthly budget

Work out how much money you've got coming in and going out of your household on essential expenses like food and bills.

4. Make savings on your household expenses

Look carefully at your spending and see if there is anything you are able to cut down on. For example, you could shop around for a cheaper gas or electricity provider, look at cheaper mortgage or insurance providers or browse through money saving websites such as http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk/,  http://www.savoo.co.uk/ , http://www.vouchercloud.com/ , http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/ , http://www.couporando.co.uk/ , http://www.voucherbin.co.uk/ , http://www.dealslands.co.uk/ and https://boolyshopping.com/


5. Maximise your income

Are you getting all the money you're entitled to? There may be benefits available and you don't necessarily have to be out of work to claim them. Anything from home insulation to reducing your fuel bills, to council tax rebates, Tax Credits, or support with school meals may be open to you.
 
6. Think twice about taking out a loan to pay off all your debts

It might seem an easy opt out, but you may end up paying back a lot more than you borrowed and at very high interest rates. You may not be able to afford the repayments and the loan may be secured against your home, which you could then lose.

7. Buy locally

Businesses are feeling the effects of the economic downturn more than most, and you can help support them by goods locally

Housing

Our focus is to prevent homelessness occurring through a range of initiatives as well as tackling the wider causes of homelessness through strengthening partnerships with other agencies and sharing needs data. The initiatives that we have brought in show that early preventative work can make a difference to people facing the threat of repossession.

If you feel your home maybe in danger of repossession we can help with:

 

  • The Council’s court desk is funded jointly by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Council.  Advisors from Citizen Advice Bureau are on hand on repossession hearing days at the County Court to provide advice which could prevent you being evicted from your home.  It is always better to get advice from the Council's Housing Options Service as early as possible before going to Court as there is more time to arrange help.
  • An independent housing advice service is provided by Bedford Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and supported by Bedford Borough Council. This creates an essential link between CAB's money advice service and the court desk.
  • Mortgage Rescue Scheme.  This scheme was launched in January 2009 in partnership with Bedford Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) and could provide a solution where you may become homeless, all other solutions have been explored and you meet the criteria for the scheme.  If you are struggling to meet your mortgage payments you should firstly contact your lender to discuss other repayment options.  The leaflet below provides guidance and details of organisations that may be able to assist you.

 

Further information about what you can do if your house is threatened with repossession can be found in the leaflet below, by visiting our housing advice webpage  or by calling us direct on (01234) 718058 

HAS Mortgage Advice Leaflet

 

Local Support:

If you have lost your job or are on a low income we can offer advice about benefits that you maybe entitled to claim.

Bedford Borough Council Benefits & Community Welfare section administer the Housing & Council Benefit Scheme. These are means tested benefits available to people on a low income with their rent and/or Council Tax.

If you already getting a means tested benefit such as Income Support, Income based Employment Support Allowance, Income based Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit you should be entitled to some assistance. Contact us to see if we can help!

See our web pages for more details of the Housing & Council Tax Benefit Scheme.

We also offer a drop in service at the Town Hall from

Monday - Thursday 8.45 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Friday 8.45 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.
Saturday 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

We can advise on the process, your eligibility and help with forms, alternatively you can ring on 01234 718097 or email customerservices@bedford.gov.uk.


Please note that any award of Housing & Council Benefit is based on the income coming into the household, and that savings are also considered. If you have over £16,000 in savings you cannot get any benefit.

Other useful contact details are:

Job Centre Plus (JCP):
For Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance & Income Support;
0800 0556688

Her Majesty’s Revenues & Customs (HMRC):
For Tax Credits; 0845 3003 900
For Child Benefit; 0845 302 1444

Pension Service:
For Pension Credit & State Retirement Pension; 0845 6060 265

Bedford Borough Council:
For Housing & Council Tax Benefit; 01234 718097

There may be other benefits you may be entitled to if you are sick or disabled – you can find out about these on the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200

Business:

The Economic Development Unit of the Borough Council is fully committed to helping support businesses through the current economic downturn, and has launched a package of schemes and measures to minimise the impact for small businesses that are most affected. The key measures are outlined below:

 

  • Hardship rate relief scheme
    Businesses that are experiencing financial hardship can apply for a partial reduction in their business rates, subject to eligibility criteria.
  • Small business rate relief scheme
    Small businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 pa can apply for relief from a portion of the business rates levy due. Availability of flexible lease terms on all Council owned commercial property
    Various flexible packages are available.

 

If you own a small business in Bedford and would like to find out more about the support that is available please contact the Economic Development Team on 01234 221889.

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Community and Living

Bedford Borough Council aims to help build communities and neighbourhoods. The pages in this section provide details of community living in the borough and details of crime prevention and youth support in our neighbourhoods.

 


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