Christmas is a time when we all love to splash out a bit….from presents for loved ones, party nights, to stacking up on our favourite food and drink. However when the festivities are over, January can feel like a very bleak month financially.

If you’ve borrowed money to help pay for Christmas and are unable to make the repayments do seek help immediately. It is easy to feel completely overwhelmed by your financial situation, but there is free help out there.

On a positive note, this can also be a great opportunity to get your finances in order for the coming year.

We’ve compiled a list of charities that offer free advice on managing your money, debt advice, and money saving tips, as well as schemes that may help people in financial crisis.

The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice to help improve your finances as well as budgeting tools to help you plan ahead. There is a useful section on help if you’re struggling with debt if money is particularly tight after Christmas. You can find more information on their website or by telephone on 0800 138 7777.

Citizens Advice Direct is a Scotland-wide service which provides free advice and information on many issues including debt and money advice. You can also contact them by email at advice@citizensadvicedirect.org.uk or by telephone on 0808 800 9060 (free to landlines and most mobiles). If you prefer to speak to an advisor face to face, you can find details for your local Citizens Advice Bureau at cas.org.uk/bureaux.

National Debtline is run by the Money Advice Trust and can advise on money management and debt. They also have an interactive debt-advice tool called My Money Steps. You can also phone them on Freephone 0808 808 4000.

Stepchange provide money and debt advice. A good first step is to use their online Debt Remedy tool. For more information you can also call them Freephone on 0800 138 1111.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) provide tailored debt solutions and money courses to help you budget via a network of local CAP centres in the UK. They can also provide home visits. Find your local CAP Centre in Scotland.

Our Scottish Disability Directory lists local money advice services throughout Scotland. Simply select the Category: Money (Debt and Budgeting) and your postcode to find your nearest money advice service. You can also call our helpline on 0300 323 9961.

Money Saving Schemes

MoneySavingExpert.com  is a useful website containing a wealth of information on money saving tips including household utility bills such as gas, electricity, water and phone bills.

Home Energy Scotland from the Scottish Government is a free impartial energy advice service to help people save money and be warmer in their homes.  They offer simple energy saving tips, make referrals to funding schemes and can arrange benefits and tax credit checks to help people access available assistance.

You can call Home Energy Scotland’s free helpline on 0808 808 2282 to check what support you might be entitled to. You can also text ‘warm’ to 81025 for a call back or email advice@se.homeenergyscotland.org.

You can also read our Help to heat your Home Info Guide.

Foodbanks

If you are in severe financial difficulty and are unable to buy food, foodbanks can provide food parcels to people in need. You will need to be referred from a professional. Typical agencies that can refer are doctors, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice Bureau staff, welfare officers or the police and probation officers.

The Trussell Trust is one of the largest foodbank providers. Find your nearest Trussell Trust foodbank. There are other organisations that run independent foodbanks including churches and other community services. Our Scottish Disability Directory lists other foodbanks in Scotland. Please call our helpline if you need further information on foodbanks.

Other help you may be able to get

You may be able to get other kinds of support, including:

Budgeting Loans. A budgeting loan is an interest-free loan from the social fund, which you can apply for if you need help paying for:

  • furniture or household equipment
  • clothing or footwear
  • rent in advance for a new home
  • removal expenses
  • travel expenses
  • things to help you look for or start work (for example, a suit)
  • essential home improvements, maintenance or security
  • repaying hire purchase (HP) or other debts you took out to pay for any of the above.

You are only eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on certain benefits for 6 months. You can apply online or by picking up a form at your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Crisis Grants or Community Care Grants. These grants are part of the Scottish Welfare Fund and are delivered by Local Councils across Scotland.

Crisis Grants can help if you need money quickly because of an emergency or disaster, particularly if there is a threat to your health and safety. Applications can be made for living expenses and essential items such as food, heating costs, nappies, toiletries and travel.

Community Care Grants are provided where a qualifying individual needs help to establish or maintain a settled home. They may also be provided to support families facing exceptional pressure. A qualifying individual can be defined as those in prison, hospital, a residential care establishment or other institution; or homeless or otherwise living an unsettled way of life. Applications can be made for essential items such as furniture, carpets and household goods.

To find out if you can get a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund, apply to your local council.

If you need further information or help to contact any of the organisations above, please contact us on 0300 323 9961.

 

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