Money advice

Find out how you can get help to manage your money.

Debts are either priority or non-priority depending on the penalties 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.

Council tax and rent are priority debts.

If you are having problems paying your rent or other bills, don’t ignore it, help is available!

Council tenants

Tenancy sustainment can:

  • Help you manage your money
  • Agree an arrears repayment plan
  • Ensure you are receiving any benefits, discounts and grants you are entitled to.

Council tax

If you live in a home on your own, you are entitled to 25% discount off your bill.

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Council Tax Support. Complete the benefit calculator [external link] to find out.

Electricity and gas

For information on saving money on your bills visit our Sustainable Darlington pages.

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

If you pay the gas and/or electricity bills for your home you will receive a £400 discount [external link] from the Government on your bills over the winter, over six months from October:

  • If you pay via credit or direct debit, the discount will be taken automatically from your bills by your provider. 
  • If you pay by prepayment meter you will be provided Energy Bill discount vouchers weekly, issued by text, email or post directly from your energy supplier. Redeem these at your usual top-up point. If you have a smart prepay meter, your supplier will apply the credit to this automatically.
  • You will never be asked for bank details at any point.

Make sure you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to so that you receive the right Government support with your bills.

Water

Darlington Borough Council collects water rates on behalf of Northumbrian Water (unless a water meter is fitted).

The average weekly water and sewerage charge for 2017/18 is £7.87.

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to up to 50% discount off your water charge through the Northumbrian Water Social Tariff.  Please see the Tenancy sustainment page to find out more.

Tips on saving water can be found on the Northumbrian Water website [external link]

Eliminating food waste

Use leftovers and be savvy about what you can freeze to make sure you are getting as much as you can from the food you buy. 

You can freeze:

  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Dairy: grated cheese(add flour), milk, butter
  • Baked goods e.g. brownies and cookies
  • Chopped herbs, chilli and garlic

Foodbanks

If you are unable to feed yourself or your family, you may be able to get emergency food from a foodbank.

You do not need a referral.

Healthy start 

If you are at least 10 weeks pregnant, or have a child under 4 years old and you are claiming relevant benefits you can get support to but milk, fruit and vegetables with Healthy Start [external link]

The Bread and Butter Thing

The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) helps families cut the price of their food bills by offering groceries at a fraction of supermarket price.

TBBT 's affordable food service means that for just £7.50, members’ shopping bags are filled with a minimum of £35 worth of items made up of quality fresh food and store cupboard staples from supermarkets.

There are 3 types of support that will be delivered by TBBT:

  • Provision of Winter Months bags free for those most in need struggling to meet the cost. This support will run over a 13 week period, providing free food bags to 240 recipients. To apply for support, contact Customer Services on 01325 405000 and press #. 
  • A ‘come and try us’ campaign will be run to offer up to 900 new TBBT members a free food bag worth £7.50 and the option to become a member of the scheme. Details of how to become a TBBT member can be found at: breadandbutterthing.org/members
  • We are working with The Bread and Butter Thing to distribute fuel bank vouchers to families and individuals. Residents may be entitled to two fuel vouchers to the value of £98. These vouchers can only be used by people with pre-payment meters. Residents should Text FUEL to 07537 416 040. You will then receive a phone call from an 0161 (Manchester) number to complete a criteria questionnaire.

Day

Hub

Collection Time

Collection Point

Monday

Skerne Park

11.30am

Skerne Park Youth & Community Centre

Monday

Elim Church

2.15pm

Elim Church, Bowman Street (Harrowgate Hill )

Tuesday

Windsor Court

1.30pm

Windsor Court Sheltered Housing Scheme Newton Lane

Wednesday

Corporation Road

2.15pm

Corporation Road Primary School

Thursday

Red Hall

1.30pm

Red Hall Primary School

Thursday

Eastbourne

2.00pm

Eastbourne Community Hub in Eastbourne Park

Friday

Firthmoor

1.30pm

Firthmoor Community Centre

 

 

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

When filling in your budget, make sure all your income and expenses are either weekly or monthly amounts.

To change a weekly figure into monthly, multiply by 52 and then divide by 12.

To change a monthly figure into weekly, multiply by 12 and then divide by 52.

There is a budget planning template available at Money supermarket [external link]

Bank accounts

Having a bank account can save up to £485 a year in the UK for everyday bills and services.

Having a bank account also allows you to set up Direct Debits, so you can automatically pay your bills.

If you don't have a bank account find out about fee-free basic bank accounts [external link].

Furniture help

If you are on a low income affordable pre-owned furniture is available from:
FRADE (01325 357379)
Kings Church Darlington [external link]

Finding a job

The Morrison Trust [external link] is a local charity that supports unemployed people 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,
  • are not currently accessing the work programme
  • live in Darlington

We can refer you to the trust.

Claiming the right benefits

Each year more than 26 million pounds of benefits goes unclaimed across Darlington.

Visit the DarloMillions [external link] page to make sure you're claiming what you're entitled to.

For specific advice on Universal Credit visit the Money Advice Service [external link].

The National Debtline [external link] has a useful tool to help you take control of your debts.

Follow these four easy steps:

  • Step 1: Increasing your income
  • Step 2: Working out your personal budget
  • Step 3: Dealing with your priority debts
  • Step 4: Dealing with your non-priority debts

For more details see how to deal with debt [pdf document]

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.

They may also be able to deal with your creditors on your behalf.

Online support

Local or face to face support

Free childcare

If you are getting certain benefits you might be eligible for free childcare.

Free school meals

Your child may be entitled to free school meals

School Uniform

You can access free, second hand professionally laundered school uniform from the Uniform Exchange.

You can also donate any uniform your child has outgrown saving it from going to landfill.

Social fund

Citizens Advice Darlington administers crisis assessments and community care support.

Requests for Crisis Assessments

To apply for crisis support, please call the assessment centre on 01325 734991.

The telephone line operates from 10:00am to 16:00 daily (except for bank holidays).

No access to a phone?

You can use the phone in the Darlington Citizens Advice office between 10:00 - 16:00.

Community Care Support

Applications must be made online by a specialist provider. For example a housing officer, support worker or social worker.

You can find more information, including how to apply on Darlington CAB’s website.

Darlington Citizens Advice community support scheme [external link].

Other useful contacts and specialist advice

These organisations can give support and advice to you.

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