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If you are struggling to make ends meet and getting into debt, the first step you should take is to see if you can increase the money you have coming in.
Check below for ways of doing this:
There are a range of different Social Security benefits available which you may be entitled to, (see the benefits fact sheet in this pack). Whether you are entitled depends on your particular circumstances. There are benefits for those in and out of work.
Some are based on the National Insurance contributions you have paid and others are based on your needs and the amount of income you have.
Millions of pounds in benefits go unclaimed every year so don't be afraid to apply even if you have been turned down in the past. For more information contact your local Job Centre Plus office; you will find the number on the contact sheet in this pack.
Check with your local tax office to make sure that you have the right tax code.
Other ways to boost your income:
If you have grown up children or other relatives living in your home make sure they are paying enough towards household bills.
If you have children from a former relationship you may want to claim maintenance or see whether the maintenance you are currently getting can be increased.
Is there a possibility of renting out a room in your home? Before you do this there are various things to consider. You will need to check to see how this will affect any benefits you are claiming and your tax position. You will also need your landlord's permission if you rent your home. Contact your local tax office, the Job Centre Plus and your landlord if appropriate.
Check whether any loans are covered by insurance which may apply if you have been made redundant or are off work sick.
If you are claiming benefits there may be work which you can do without affecting your benefits such as childminding or fostering.
Ask your council about a Home Improvement Grant to help with repair costs to your home. They will also be able to tell you about cheap travel schemes if you are disabled or elderly.
You may be able to get cash help from charities depending on your particular circumstances. The Job Centre Plus have a Community Care Grant for which some categories of people qualify and a Home Energy Efficiency grant may be available to improve energy efficiency in your home.
The Education Welfare Office can tell you if you qualify for free school meals, school fares or help with school uniform costs if you have children.