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Thamesbank and Hounslow Council Help for struggling families

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Thamesbank and Hounslow Council Help for struggling families


Published by Graham Tomlin for Credit Union Solutions Ltd in Universal Credit and also in Bill Payments, Local Government

Residents struggling with the impact of welfare reform will be able to get help managing their finances thanks to a partnership between Hounslow Council and Thamesbank.

The introduction of Universal Credit payments will mean that many benefits claimants will no longer have their housing costs paid directly to landlords.

For some people, this will be the first time they have been responsible for managing their money this way, and there is a risk people could get into debt without some support.

The council and the credit union have signed a deal that will provide low cost bank accounts and budgeting accounts to people who need help managing their bills.

The basic bank account gives people who may not have been eligible for an account with a high street bank the ability to receive welfare payments and pay bills via Direct Debit or standing orders.

The budgeting account will also receive welfare payments, but also lets account holders protect certain amounts for different payments that need to be made each month, such as rent, council tax and utility bills. Any remaining funds are then available to be spent as the account holder chooses.

CllrSteve Curran, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration at the council, said:

“Changes to the welfare system mean that a small, but not insignificant, number of people face a real risk of getting into spiralling debt as they struggle to manage essential bills such as rent, utilities and council tax.

“Unfortunately, many people on low incomes are unable to open accounts with high street banks, so this scheme provides a low cost option where they can arrange how their bills are paid.

“The budgeting accounts also make sure the key bills will always be paid, helping people stay on top of their money and avoid getting into arrears and debt.”

As well as the new accounts, low cost loans will be made available to support people through unexpected situations, as well as giving them an alternative to high interest rate lenders.  This low cost loan scheme is in addition to the council’s discretionary crisis payments scheme, which replaced the DWP Community Grants and Crisis Loans scheme. 

The accounts are only available to people struggling with their bills that have been referred to the scheme by the council or Hounslow Homes.

The scheme will be piloted for between six to twelve months, and Thamesbank are still able to provide low cost bank accounts and low cost loans to local residents outside of the pilot scheme through normal membership routes.

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