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.


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

What help is there if your finances are tight?

Please get in touch with us at Maldon & District Citizens Advice by filling out the enquiry form on our website https://maldoncitizensadvice.org.uk or by telephoning 01621 875774.

These are a few of the things we could help you with:

  • Are you getting all the benefits to which you are entitled?
  • What effect would changes in working hours/rates have on your benefits?
  • Are you getting the right child maintenance for your children?
  • Are other adults living in your home making appropriate contributions?
  • Depending on who is living in the house, is your council tax bill right?
  • Look at ways of cutting bills and expenses.
  • Reducing rates of deductions being taken from your benefits
  • Explore grants or special tariffs
  • Looking at your debts and options for dealing with these, including making offers to creditors, or, in some cases, getting the debts written off.

For more information on saving energy and reducing your bills please visit Homepage - Warm Homes Essex


Government Announcement

In addition to the help that the government had announced earlier this year, the Autumn Statement outlined changes which will benefit some people next April (2023). These include:

  1. An increase in benefits in line with inflation – 10.1%
  2. Additional Cost of Living payment of £900 per household. Households who receive the following benefits are eligible for the payment:
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

In addition, eligible pensioners will receive an extra £300 cost of living payment and those on non-means tested disability benefits will receive an additional £150.

  1. Changes to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage as follows:
  • For 21-22 year olds the rate will increase to £10.18
  • For 18-20 year olds the rate will increase to £7.49
  • For 16-17 year olds the rate will increase to £5.28
  • For apprentices the rate will increase to £5.28
  1. An additional £1 billion of funding to the Household Support Fund which helps local authorities assist those who need it most
  2. Social Housing Rent will only be able to rise by a maximum of 7% in 2023-24


If you're struggling to afford essential food items there are various places you can go for both food and other household items. Locations include:

  • MALDON – The Food Pantry at Elim Church, 17 Wantz Road CM9 5DB Wednesdays 9:30am-1pm Food Pantry ← Elim Maldon Please contact Maldon Citizens Advice first on 01621 875774 to get a referral.
  • SOUTHMINSTER – Dengie Food Pantry at United Reformed Church, North Street CM0 7DF Wednesdays 10am-12pm. Please contact Maldon Citizens Advice first on 01621 875774 to get a referral.
  • TOLLESBURY – Food Larder at The Centre, Congregational Church, East Street, CM9 8QD. Call 07941019750 or 07742 538171. Mondays 10am-12pm Village Larder at Tollesbury Hub - Maldon District Connects No referral required.


As we know, with the increasing price of fuel, heating your home can become a challenge. There are several ‘Warm Hubs’ across the district which provide a warm place, hot food and hot drinks. Locations include:

  • BURNHAM – Burnham Baptist Church, Station Road, CM0 8HF. Free soup and hot chocolate. Monday 5th December 11am-1pm.
  • BRADWELL – St Thomas' Church, East End Road CM0 7QW. Free soup and hot chocolate. Tuesday 21st February 11am-1pm.
  • HEYBRIDGE – Plantation Hall, Colchester Road, CM9 4AL. Hot drinks, soup, warm clothes and coats, toys and a chat to those in need. Weekdays 9am–3pm.
  • HEYBRIDGE – Fullbridge Church, 27 Fullbridge. Includes lunch. Every Tuesday30am-1pm.
  • MALDON – Quaker Meeting House, Butt Lane, CM9 5HD. Free hot and cold drinks, soup, rolls and cakes. Every Friday 10am-1pm.
  • MALDON Community in a Cup at URC Market Hill, CM9 4PZ. Free refreshment. Last Tuesday of every month 10am-12.
  • MALDON – Fullbridge Church, 27 Fullbridge, CM9 4LE. Free refreshments and a light lunch. Every Tuesday30am-1pm.
  • MAYLAND – Lawling Park Hall, Katonia Avenue CM3 6AD. Free soup and hot chocolate. Thursday 19th January 11am-1pm.
  • SOUTHMINSTER – ‘Warm and Toastie’ at St. Leonard’s Church, 1 Station Rd, CM0 7EW. Free hot drinks and toasted sandwiches. Every Sunday 12:30pm – 2:30pm until end of March 2023.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme and how you will get help

All households with a domestic electricity connection in Great Britain are eligible for the £400 discount.

How will I get the discount?

  • The £400 discount will be paid, by suppliers, to consumers over 6 months with payments starting from October 2022
  • Households will see a discount of £66 applied to their energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023
  • The discount will be provided on a monthly basis regardless of whether consumers pay monthly, quarterly or have an associated payment card
  • Households will never be asked for their bank details, and those with a domestic electricity connection will not need to apply
  • There is no need to contact your supplier as all domestic electricity customers will be automatically eligible. Electricity bill payers should enquire with their supplier if they have not received their first instalment by the end of October.
  • Direct debit customers will get the discount automatically as a reduction to the monthly direct debit, or as a refund to the customer’s bank account following direct debit collection during each month of delivery
  • Standard credit customers and payment card customers will see the discount automatically applied as a credit to standard credit customers’ accounts in the first week of each month of delivery, with the credit appearing as it would if the customer had made a payment
  • Smart prepayment meter customers will see the discount credited directly to their smart prepayment meters in the first week of each month of delivery
  • Traditional prepayment meter customers will be provided with redeemable vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) from the first week of each month, issued via SMS text, email or post. These customers will need to take action to redeem these at their usual top-up point and should make sure that their provider has up to date contact details for them so as to receive the vouchers and instructions.


I pay for energy in my rent - how do I make sure my landlord passes on the reduction?

  • Landlords who have a domestic electricity contract with a licensed electricity supplier and then resell the electricity to their tenants based on energy usage must comply with the maximum resale price rules.
  • the maximum resale price for electricity is currently set as the same price as that paid by the person reselling it. Under these circumstances, we expect landlords to pass on the discount received to each tenant
  • landlords with a domestic electricity connection who charge ‘all inclusive’ rent, such as the case for many student houses, where a fixed cost for energy costs are included in their rental charges, should also be passing on the discounted payments to tenants


Will I get the discount if I live in a park home, houseboat or am an energy consumer living off the grid?

  • the government has confirmed that further funding will be available to provide equivalent support of £400 for energy bills for the 1% of households don’t have a domestic electricity connection. Details of this will be published in the autumn.


What happens if I switch energy suppliers or my household circumstances change?

  • Electricity suppliers will apply the discount to bills from October 2022. This will be done by meter points, so it won’t matter if you switch supplier
  • the Scheme will now provide 6 monthly payments based on 6 qualifying dates than a single date in October. This allows new eligible households to benefit from the relevant portion of the total £400 as there will be multiple qualifying dates


What if my energy supplier goes bust or I change my payment method?

  • Government will ensure that customers who switch payment methods, or whose energy suppliers fail, will not be penalised


How will it work for customers in arrears / in debt?

  • All households with a domestic electricity connection in Great Britain are eligible for the £400 discount


If you would like advice on this, or any other subject, please get in touch with Maldon & District Citizens Advice. See our new website https://maldoncitizensadvice.org.uk for details, or by ringing 01621 875774

We look forward to hearing from you.


Lucy Bettley