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.


You can check you are receiving the right amount of Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, Universal credit and other benefits by using this benefits calculator [external link]

Some benefits such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support & Discretionary housing payment can be applied for directly from Darlington Borough Council.

Please go to  our benefits page for more information and ways to apply

Useful links to apply for other benefits

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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.

To help you budget you can complete the financial statement in our Cost of running our home booklet [pdf document]

When filling in your personal 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.

If the end figure is positive, you can afford the cost of running your home based on your current circumstances.

If the end figure is negative, you will be paying out more than you can afford each week, meaning you are at risk of debt.  If this would apply to you and you still want to have your own home, please contact us to discuss this further.

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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 Core, Church Row, Darlington,DL1 5QD and Help Hubs across Darlington.

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Costs to Set-Up Your Home

If this is your first tenancy, you will have costs to set up your new home.  You will need to budget for things like furniture, electrical goods, crockery, cutlery, carpets and curtains and well as other bills and expenses.

Here is our costs of running a home booklet to help you prepare [pdf document]

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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 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.

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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.

If you are experiencing problems paying your rent or other bills, don’t ignore the problem – help is available!

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.

The National Debtline has a very useful tool to help you take control of your debts by following four easy steps:

Other agencies who offer debt advice are:

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Help Hubs

Help Hubs allow people facing financial crisis to access information and support. There are currently four hubs running in Darlington. You do not need to make an appointment.

  • Cockerton – St Mary’s Community Centre, Newton Lane, DL3 9EX
  • Kings Church – The King’s Centre, Whessoe Road, DL3 0Q
  • The Coleridge Centre – Ribble Drive, DL1 5TY
  • St Andrews Church – Haughton Green, DL1 2DD

To find out the opening hours or if you want to know more, contact 01325 256999

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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

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

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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]

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Ongoing Costs

Once you have set up your home, you will need to pay regular household bills.

Rent - paying your rent is a priority.

Below are the average rents in Darlington to give you an idea how much you will be charged. Service charges may be payable in addition to the amounts below.

Type of Property Approximate Rent
 1 Bedroom Flat  £62.39
2 Bedroom Flat  £68.69 
2 Bedroom House  £72.18 
3 Bedroom House  £80.17 

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. Complete the benefit calculator [external link] to find out

Council Tax

This link will take you to the typical council tax charges per property in Darlington

Most Council properties are A to band C

If you live in the property on our own, you will be 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


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

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.

Water Saving Tips

Northumbrian Water website [external link]


Home Contents Insurance should be a vital part of running your new home. Darlington Borough Council insures your building. Windows, doors, furniture, decorations and personal belongings are all your responsibility.

Gas and Electric

The cost of gas and electric varies depending on how much you use.  Different suppliers have different tariffs or deals.  There are many comparison sites where you can check if you are getting the best deal.

Below is a table provided by Wise group to show the average use / costs of gas & electricity.

  Households with both electricity and gas * Households with electricity only **
Description Meaning Electricity (kWh) Gas (kWh) Electricity (kWh)
LOW Small flat or general low usage 2,000 (kWh) or about £360 8,000 (kWh) or about £400 6,000 (kWh)
MEDIUM Large flat or medium house 3,100 (kWh) or about £500 12,500 (kWh) or about £560 9,000 (kWh)
HIGH Large house or general high usage 4,600 (kWh) or about £700 18,000 (kWh) or about £770 13,000 (kWh)

Energy Saving Tips [external link]

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TV licence

You need a TV Licence if you watch, record or download programmes on TV or BBC iPlayer. If you don’t, you could receive a large fine. [external link]

School meals

Your child may be entitled to free school meals

Universal credit

The Government introduced a new benefit called Universal credit which is a single monthly payment, replacing 6 benefits. Free online support to help Universal Credit claimants with their personal finances is available from Money Advice Service website [external link]. 

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

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Other useful contacts and specialist advice

These organisations can give support and advice to you.