Money, debt and benefits

This page will help you if you are struggling with bills or rent payments.

Bank accounts

You can use a bank account to receive any benefits and pay your rent and bills.

Paying your bills by direct debit is the easiest way to pay as your bank automatically makes the payments for you. 

Some banks (including Darlington Credit Union) offer 'jam jar' accounts - where you can divide your account in different 'pots' for bills and savings.

Benefits

You can apply for housing benefit and council tax support whether you are working or unemployed.

Find out how much benefits you are entitled to [external link]

How to appeal against benefit changes

Budgeting

Keeping track of your money and spending can be tricky. Completing a budget planner can help you manage your money better. If you are spending more than you have coming in, you will need to look at where you can cut back.

Citizen's Advice Bureau

Citizen's Advice Bureau [external link] can offer free, independent advice if you have money problems.

They are available at the Customer Contact Centre at the Town Hall (appointment needed), Bennet House (14 Horsemarket), Haughtin Children's Centre (Thursdays 9:30-10:30am), Maidendale Community Centre (Thursday 11:30-1pm) and Help Hubs across Darlington.

Darlington Credit Union

Darlington Credit Union [external link] is a non-profit organisation which was set up in 2009 and can can help you take control of your money by helping you save what you can, and borrow amounts you can afford to repay.

Darlington Credit Union is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so your savings are safe.

Visit the website, call 01325 520005 or email info@darlingtoncreditunion.co.uk for more information. You can also visit the office which is based on Church Row, or visit them at the customer services centre (drop-in, no appointment needed) or at Help Hubs across Darlington.

Dealing with debt

Debts are either priority or non-priority depending on the penalties that can be imposed if you do not pay. If you are struggling to pay all your debts you should always make sure you pay your priority debts first. 

Paying your rent

There are lots of places that provide free, confidential and independent advice. They can help you come up with a strategy to deal with your debts and may also be able to deal with your creditors on your behalf.

Finding a job

The Morrison Trust [external link] is a local charity which supports unemployed people living in Darlington. They can help you with your CV, help you fill in application forms and prepare for interviews.

If you have been unemployed for less than 12 months, you are not accessing the work programme and are living in Darlington, we can refer you to them.

Food stores

If you are unable to feed yourself or your family, you may be able to get emergency food from a food store. You do not need a referral.

  • Kings Church, Whessoe Road [external link] - Kings Church also manages food stories at St Mary's Community Centre (Stooperdale Ave), World of Life (Corporation Road), St Andrew's Church (Salters Lane) and St Columbas (Clifton Road)
  • Salvation Army, Thompson Street East

Furniture help

Smarterbuys [external link] is a discount scheme which can help you buy essential home items at discounted prices - a responsible alternative to high-interest stores and loan sharks. 

You may also be able to get help from the social fund or with a budgeting loan [external link]

FRADE (01325 357379) and Kings Church Darlington [external link] both provide affordable pre-owned furniture to people on a low income.

If you are a council tenant we can offer you a white goods or furniture package

Free childcare

If you are getting certain benefits, you may be eligible for free childcare

Getting the best deal from energy suppliers, home phone and internet

You could save money by changing your tariff or energy provider - visit Energy Saving Trust [external link]

Our home energy page also offers advice on how you can save on your gas and electricity.

Help Hubs

Loan sharks

Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who often charge very high interest rates. If you have borrowed money or want to report a loan shark contact the illegal money lending team [external link] on 0300 5552222 or reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk.

Darlington Credit Union is an alternative way to help you save and may be able to provide you with a low cost loan. 

Mobile advice cooperatives

Mobile advice cooperatives can give advice about debt and benefits and can even help you fill in forms. They take place at the following venues:

Moving costs

If you need help moving home, you may be able to get help with removal costs from the social fund or with a budgeting loan [external link]

School meals

Your child may be entitled to free school meals

Universal credit

From 2013 the Government will be introducing a new benefit called Universal credit which will replace the majority of means-tested benefits and tax credits.

Welfare rights

Our welfare rights team provide free, independent, confidential advice about benefits and tax credits; as well as advice and support to advisors.

You need a referral from social care in order to get help from welfare rights

Welfare reform

Other useful contacts and specialist advice

These organisations can give support and advice to you.