A helping hand for residents this Christmas

photo taken at Unify

Don’t struggle in silence with money problems is the message being sent out by Wigan Council this Christmas.

Teaming up with Unify and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the council wants to advise residents on ways to manage their money at a tricky time of year when the urge to spend is never felt more.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, portfolio holder for welfare reform, said: “At this time of year it can be easy to spend money on things that aren’t needed and there is support out there for residents who need help managing their money.

“We recognise that a small portion of residents may be unaware of the extra support they could receive, so by identifying those who are eligible for refunds and discounts, we can help households who need it most.

“We hope this will ease stress, especially during this financially demanding time of year.”

One source of support is Wigan Council’s Winter Award Drive which has seen £450,000 in unclaimed benefits and council tax reductions (CTR) distributed in the last year.

The scheme identifies residents who are eligible for housing benefit, CTR, discretionary housing payment and council tax refunds, discount and exemption awards.

Also in the last year, the council’s welfare provision service has supported more than 2,300 residents who have been helped through periods of crisis.

The service encourages residents to seek help if they have financial worries as there are several local initiatives available that can provide practical advice and support.

The council is also warning residents against using a payday lenders or loan sharks and is instead urging people to consider using a Credit Union or seek advice for how to manage their finances.

Coun Halliwell, added: “There are cheaper and safer alternatives to payday lenders and loan sharks. Although they may seem like the easy option, people don’t realise how much interest they charge and it can be so damaging.”

Council tax reduction is awarded to residents who are liable to pay council tax and are on a low income. There are different levels of support depending on the circumstances of the household and residents can find out if they’re eligible by visiting www.Wigan.gov.uk/WinterAwards

For help and advice on how to manage your money, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/moneyadvice