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Money and legal advice

If you're struggling to manage your money, or know your rights and entitlements there are many organisations offering free information and independent advice. Various local and national services can help you to claim the benefits you are entitled to, get consumer advice, manage debt and more.

Benefits

Find out if you’re eligible for housing benefit and council tax support, and how to claim it here. You can also use the Benefits Calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

 For further information about Benefits see the gov.uk website. Here you can find out about:

  • Benefits entitlement
  • Benefits for families
  • Carers and disability benefits
  • Child benefit
  • Death and benefits
  • Heating and housing benefits
  • Jobseeker’s allowance and low income benefits
  • Tax credits
  • Universal credits

Debt advice and support

If you are struggling to manage your money, it’s important to deal with the problem sooner rather than later.

If you are worried about debt, are having difficulties paying your bills, or just need some advice and support, there are a number of organisations who offer free and impartial advice.

You can find these services here.

You can also find further debt and money advice on the Council’s website for those who are struggling to manage their money – including budget boosting clubs.

Direct payments and personal budgets

Personal budgets
A personal budget is an amount of money you are entitled to receive to pay for services and support to meet your assessed care and support needs.

A personal budget allows you to have more control over the way your support and care is organised. You have greater choice about the organisations and individuals who you can ask to support you. You can also have more say over exactly what they do and when they do it.

Your personal budget is worked out following an assessment with a social care worker, who will help you identify your eligible needs.

Your social care worker will then work with you to write a care and support plan that shows how you will use your personal budget. The care and support plan must be agreed by the council before it can begin.

Depending on your financial situation, you may be asked to pay all or part of the cost of your care and support services.

Direct Payments
A direct payment is one of a number of ways you can choose to spend your personal budget. It is where the council pays all or part of your personal budget directly to you, so that you can pay for and arrange your own services and support.

The council usually provides direct payments on a pre-payment debit card. Direct payments are tax-free and do not affect your benefits or income.

Having a direct payment means that you will be responsible for choosing and arranging your own care. This could include:

  • Paying for support from a care agency of your choice
  • Employing a paid carer (also called personal assistant) directly. This would mean you would be responsible for recruiting, paying wages and supervising staff
  • Buying a piece of equipment or technology as an alternative to paid care.

Warrington Disability Partnership offer a direct payment advice and payroll service to advise and support you with some of these tasks.

In most cases, to have a direct payment, you must be able to understand and make decisions about the kind of care and support you want. You must also be able to understand and manage the financial and legal side of having a payment (or know a trusted person who can do this on your behalf).

There are some circumstances where it may not be possible or appropriate to use direct payments. Your social care worker will be able to tell you about these.

If you are unable to, or do not wish to have a direct payment, you can ask the Council to arrange services on your behalf.

Find further information:
NHS Choices Guide to Personalised Care
Carers UK Guide to Direct Payments

Foodbanks

Foodbanks are a way of supporting individuals and families who meet a crisis situation and cannot afford food for a time.

Foodbanks work in the following way:

  • Care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice Bureau, children’s centres and police identify people in crisis and issue each person with a foodbank voucher.
  • When you are given a foodbank voucher, you take it to a foodbank centre.
  • In exchange for a voucher, you are given a food supply which will provide three balanced meals a day for three days. The amount you receive depends on whether you are an individual living alone or whether you are applying on behalf of a family.

Find foodbank services here.

Housing and homelessness

For information on housing advice, benefits & grants, homelessness and housing types see our Housing and care homes page.

Housing Benefit
Housing benefit helps people who live in rented accommodation pay their rent. You can make a claim for housing benefit if you are not claiming Universal Credit, or are of pensionable age and:

  • You pay rent to a housing association
  • You pay rent to a private landlord
  • You pay rent for a mobile home/caravan/houseboat and or mooring/site fees
  • You pay part rent and part mortgage – shared ownership. 

Find out if you’re eligible for housing benefit and council tax support and how to make a claim.

Are you homeless or about to become homeless?
Housing plus is the council’s housing advice and homelessness service. If you are homeless or about to become homeless, the council’s housing plus service can offer advice and help in finding alternative accommodation.

Find further information:
Warrington Borough Council – Homelessness
Homelessness (Shelter.org.uk)
Streetlink

Legal advice and advocacy

Legal Advice
Find a legal advisor or solicitor in your area through:

You can search by organisation name, town or area of law (for example employment, immigration or family law).

If you’re not sure whether or not you need a lawyer, the Legal Choices website explains the different advice that is available.

Civil Legal Advice (CLA)
If you’re eligible, you can get free and confidential advice from Civil Legal Advice (CLA) as part of legal aid. Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.

Advocacy
Advocacy is a process to support and enable people to:

  • Express their views and concerns
  • Access information and services
  • Exercise their rights and responsibilities
  • Explore choices and options.

By having the same advocate people can experience better continuity of support at some of the most challenging times in their lives.

What’s an advocate?
An advocate will:

  • Help people make informed choices, listen to their views and wishes and speak up on their behalf where needed.
  • Help people who may find it difficult to access information and services to be involved

Advocacy in Warrington
In Warrington we have different types of advocacy support available.

  • Care Act Advocacy. This is having an advocate to help you to be fully involved in the process of assessing, planning and reviewing your care and support needs, if you do not already have someone suitable who can help
  • IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy) is having an advocate to represent you and protect your interests when you don’t have the mental capacity to make certain decisions and have no family or friends who can be consulted
  • IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocacy) is having an advocate to support you if you are detained under the Mental Health Act
  • Parent Advocacy is available for parents with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues who are going through child protection and family court proceedings.
  • Preventative Advocacy is available for people who are not eligible for other types of ‘statutory advocacy’ services but who may benefit from support to prevent them needing services in the future.
  • NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) is a national youth advocacy service that helps looked after children and young people to speak up.

Warrington Speak Up Together Advocacy Hub is a local advocacy organisation that brings together advocacy services in one place, making it easier for people to access the right kind of advocacy support at the time they need it.

Savings and loans

The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide advice and support with debt and money issues. This can include general banking and borrowing money.

Loans
The council strongly encourages residents to stay away from payday loan companies. Instead of getting a payday loan, you could:

  • Access your local credit union – credit unions are non-profit-making community organisations. They are responsible lenders who offer free confidential services and are as safe as any bank or building society. Visit the Warrington Credit Unions website for more information. 
  • Search for low interest loans through mainstream banks and building societies.

If you already have a loan and would like some advice, there are links to useful agencies in the debt advice and support directory.

Trading and consumer advice

Need consumer advice?
Call Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or use the online reporting form. The service is open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

The Citizens Advice consumer service website also has advice leaflets and template letters to help you made a complaint.

The consumer group - Which? also have a dedicated Consumer Rights website that provides help to consumers getting to know their consumer rights, the Regulations and Laws surrounding these, and how to take action if you have a problem.

Trading Standards
You can find out further information about trading standards on the council’s website, including:

  • Consumer and business advice
  • Doorstep crime and scams
  • Buying a car
  • Illegal goods and underage sales
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