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Money Saving Expert Supports County Durham

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Money Saving Expert Supports County Durham

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Published by sbhlthompson for Livin in Housing and also in Bill Payments, Communities

Money saving expert Martin Lewis is backing a Big Lottery Fund initiative aimed at preventing thousands of the most vulnerable people living in social housing in County Durham from falling into debt.

Homes and communities organisation, livin, has been awarded £841,415 to lead a partnership which will ensure that young and first-time social housing tenants are given greater access to information and services to improve financial confidence.

Working in partnership with Home Group, Derwentside Homes, County Durham Citizens Advice Bureau, Developing Initiatives for Support in the Community Limited (DISC), East Durham Homes, Teesdale Housing Association, Dale and Valley Homes, Cestria Community Housing, The Riverside Group, Durham County Council, Centrepoint Soho, Durham County Credit Union, ROC SOLID, Single Homeless: Action Initiative in Derwentside Limited (SHAID) and Moving On. The project will target first-time tenants and tenants aged between 16 – 24 years old.

The partnership expects to support over 20,000 beneficiaries including 5,000 with obtaining bank accounts, savings accounts and insurance, 6,200 with affordable furniture and fuel solutions and 2,500 using affordable credit services.

Colin Steel chief executive for livin said: “Setting up your first home is a daunting task for anyone especially those on low incomes.

“The Big Lottery Fund grant will enable us to support the most vulnerable tenants by helping them get to grips with the costs they face when running a home and importantly letting them know that choice and support is readily available.

“By working in partnership with 15 other organisations the Big Lottery Fund grant will ensure every social housing tenant across County Durham is offered the same level of support and guidance regardless of their location, landlord or background.

Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Disgracefully it costs more to be poor.  The poverty premium means, from household goods to energy bills, things are more expensive for those with little cash as they need to borrow to buy or don’t get the direct debit discounts others take for granted.

“Sadly we still don’t have compulsory financial education on the curriculum, and even then, more will be needed to help the financially excluded.  This is even more important as the universal credit means many on benefits will have to take greater control of their own money management.

“The Big Lottery Fund’s Improving Financial Confidence programme is a good step towards that and should provide help and information to 150,000 people nationally who find themselves without access to products and services like bank accounts or contents insurance. Hopefully it will reduce the risk of desperation driving people into relying on costly payday loans or even loan sharks.”

James Turner, Big Lottery Fund Head of the North East region, said: “We want to prevent people on very low income from falling into debt or stop their debts from getting worse. Without the right advice people can take out unsuitable loans which can send their debts spiralling.

“Recent changes in legislation, such as the benefits cap and the introduction of Universal Credit - whereby benefits payments go to the head of the household rather than directly to the landlord - mean there is even more pressure on tenants to take responsibility for managing their finances. This means today’s investment could not come at a more important time.”

Figures released this month by the Insolvency Service* show there has been close to a 10 per cent surge in debt relief orders since the same quarter last year.

And the latest Department of Work and Pensions Family Resources Survey** published in June shows that 16 per cent of people on the lowest income (less than £100 a week) still do not have access to a bank account – compared to just three per cent of the general population. Some 14 per cent of young people do not have an account.

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