Might Pension Credit help top up your income?

Pension Credit is a weekly benefit to boost your income and is based on how much money you have coming in. This is a brief outline but we can give you advice if you get in touch.

There are two parts to Pension Credit, called Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might get one or both parts.

Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a minimum amount.

Savings Credit is a small top-up for people who have a modest amount of income or savings. Savings Credit is only available if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

Could you be eligible?

You need to:

  • have reached State Pension age
  • not have too much income or savings (there is no fixed upper limit)
  • live in the UK

You can still be working, as long as your income isn't too high.

Unlike the State Pension, you don’t need a national insurance record.

If you’re not a British Citizen you can only get Pension Credit if your immigration status lets you claim public funds. In some situations you also need a ‘right to reside’.

You can claim public funds if you have any of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • indefinite leave - unless you came to the UK on an adult dependent relative visa
  • refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • right of abode

If you’ve lived outside the UK you’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’. You have to do this even if you’re a British citizen.

If you are over state pension age but your partner isn’t, the rules are slightly more complicated. Citizens Advice has lots of information about this so please get in touch to see if you are eligible.

How Pension Credit is worked out:

  • Most of your income is taken into account (but not benefits such as Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment)
  • Assumed income from savings and investments over £10,000

This figure is then set against your personal allowances. If you are a carer or are in receipt of disability benefits these personal allowances will be higher and may make it more likely you will qualify for Pension Credit.

How to claim

You can claim at gov.uk or by ringing the Pension Credit claim line 0800 99 1234

If you would like advice and for us to check whether or not you will be eligible for Pension Credit or any other benefits, please do get in touch with Maldon & District Citizens Advice:

01621 875774 – leave a message and an adviser will call you back that day or the next.

Call in at one of our outreach surgeries:

Heybridge – Fullbridge Church, CM9 4LE Tuesdays 9.30-1.00

Burnham – Baptist Church Hall, CM0 8HJ Thursdays 10-1.00

Southminster – United Reformed Church, North Street, CM0 7DF Tuesdays 9.30-12.00

Further details are on www.maldoncitizensadvice.org.uk

We look forward to hearing from you and helping you top up your income.


Scams

I do most of my shopping online. I am always on the lookout for a bargain, especially with the festive season coming up but I’m worried about scammers. What should I look for, to avoid getting caught out? 

You’re not alone, lots of people do their shopping online: it’s convenient and can save you time. But as more and more of us move online, so do scammers, with their tactics becoming more sophisticated all the time. 

While scams can be tricky to recognise there are always things you can look out for and steps you can take to protect yourself from falling foul to a scammer. 

The golden rule to remember is that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. This goes for products which are ‘must-haves’, are sold out at major retailers, or are heavily discounted. 

If you’re buying from a site you haven’t used before, do some research before hitting buy. Find the company’s return and refund policies so you know your rights if something goes wrong with your purchase. You should also look up the company’s address, this can normally be found in the website’s ‘contact us’ section and should have a street name, not just a post office box. 

Take some time to see what other people have said about the website. Start with an internet search and look at different review websites, don’t rely on reviews the company has put on its own website. 

Be very wary of people contacting you out of the blue on social media or via text and email offering an item for sale or deal on something. Scammers will often ask you to pay in unusual ways, or put you under pressure to buy very quickly. For example, they’ll ask you to send money through a transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union or pay via vouchers. 

If you do fall victim to a scam, firstly don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. Scammers are clever and regularly adapt their methods making them harder to spot. Anyone can get scammed. 

Do report it as this alerts authorities to scammers’ techniques and prevents others from being taken advantage of.  

You can report a scam to:  

  • Citizens Advice Consumer Service: www.citizensadvice.org.uk or 0808 223 1133 or  
  • Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk 0300 123 2040. 

If you’ve transferred money in the last 24 hours contact the police via the non-emergency number 101,but, if you feel unsafe, use 999. Always contact your bank to let them know you’ve transferred money.  


Too many people with mortgages are struggling in silence.

The number of people we help with mortgage arrears has steadily risen over the last year, due to the cost of living crisis and significant increases in the Bank of England Base Rate. Many people with a mortgage who come to us already have a negative budget - others have very little left at the end of the month, and a rise in their repayments would put them into debt.

First steps

  • If you are struggling to pay your mortgage or secured loan, and you haven’t already done so, get some advice as soon as possible. It is important to look at your whole situation, as you may have other debts that need dealing with as well as your mortgage. Get in touch with Maldon & District Citizens Advice.
  • It is never too early or too late to contact your lender and find out what options may be available to you.
  • Pay as much as you can. Even if you have not paid for a while, or cannot afford the full amount each month, you should start paying as much as you can afford.

Most lenders are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Their rules say that a lender must ‘deal fairly with any customer who is in arrears’.

The Mortgage Charter

Most UK mortgage lenders have signed up to the Mortgage Charter. If your lender has signed up to the charter, they should offer you a wide range of support if you are worried about meeting your mortgage payments because of increased interest rates, or are already struggling to make payments.

  • For example, if you are up to date with your payments, your lender should allow you to switch to interest-only payments for six months, or extend your mortgage term to reduce your monthly payments. They should also give you the option to revert back to your original term within six months. You should not need an affordability check and this support should not affect your credit score.
  • From 26 June 2023, you should not be forced to leave your home
    within twelve months of your first missed mortgage payment unless you agree to do so or there are exceptional circumstances.
  • From 10 July 2023, you should be allowed to lock into a deal up to six months before your existing fixed-rate deal changes. You should also be able to manage your new deal and request a better like-for-like deal from your lender up until your new term starts, if one is available.

Help with mortgage payments

If you need help with your mortgage and you are claiming certain benefits, you may be able to apply for a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan. SMI helps people who qualify with payments towards the interest payments on their mortgage.

Don't be tempted to take out another sort of loan to repay your mortgage arrears. Often these are very expensive, and could put your home at greater risk.

Increasing your income

It is very important to make sure that you are getting all of the benefits and extra help you might be entitled to. Citizens Advice can help you check this or you can use an online calculator such as turn2us

If you have mortgage payment protection insurance, check to see if you can make a claim.

While we cannot provide “financial advice” we can help with your arrears or potential shortfall. We look forward to hearing from you about this or any other issue, in whichever way suits you best.

• Visit www.maldoncitizensadvice.org.uk and submit an enquiry.
• Phone 01621 875774 and leave a message. An adviser will return your call.
• Drop in, no appointment necessary, to:
* Heybridge: Tuesdays 9.30am-1pm Fullbridge Church, 27 Fullbridge CM9 4LE * Southminster: Tuesdays 9.30am-12 noon URC North Street CM0 7DF
* Burnham: Thursdays 10am-1pm Baptist Church Hall, Station Road, CM0 6HJ


Much more help with the cost of childcare is now available through Universal Credit

This change may make a real difference to your family budget and tip the balance as to whether working more hours is financially beneficial to you.

From 28th June 2023 the maximum amount you can claim has gone up from

  • £646.35 to £950.92 for one child
  • £1108.04 to £1630.15 for two or more children

Even if you did not qualify for Universal Credit before, it may be that the new allowances will make you eligible, so it is worth doing a benefit check to find out. There are various different programmes such as “turn2us” and “entitledto” which you can use to put in various scenarios of hours and childcare costs to see what is best for you. You will need to enter your income, any savings your rent and council tax liability to get accurate results.

If you would prefer us to do a benefit check with you, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

We look forward to hearing from you about this or any other issue, in whichever way suits you best.

www.maldoncitizensadvice.org.uk and submit and an enquiry

01621 875774 and leave a message. An adviser will return your call.

Drop in – no appointment necessary to:

  • Tuesdays 9.30-1 Heybridge Fullbridge Church, 27 Fullbridge CM9 4LE
  • Tuesdays 9.30-12 Southminster URC North Street CM0 7DF
  • Thursdays 10-1 Burnham Baptist Church Hall, Station Road, CM0 6HJ