Managing your money

We’ve pulled together a directory of financial services, information and support available, to help you get the most from your money.

Basic bank accounts

Most banks now offer a basic bank account. You’ll get a debit card and be able to pay rent and other bills by Direct Debit. You can also set up online banking and manage your money at a time convenient to you. To open a basic bank account you’ll just need some identification, like your passort or birth certificate.

There are a number of advantages to having a bank account:

  • It’s safer – your money is protected from fire and theft.
  • It’s cheaper – having a bank account and paying by Direct Debit can save you £250 and more per year on energy bills.
  • It’s convenient – you can access cash at a cash point or transfer money from your account using online banking.
  • You can have your salary and/or benefits paid into it.

You also need to have a bank account to claim Universal Credit.

You can find more information about basic bank accounts on the Money Advice Service website.

Credit union loans

Credit unions offer low cost, affordable loans and simple ways to save. Saving with them is as safe as with a bank, and you may also get access to competitive loans and special schemes that banks wouldn’t offer you.

Even if you haven’t been able to get credit through high street or online banks and building societies, a credit union will consider helping you. They can also give you support and guidance to make sure your repayments are affordable.

Credit unions are a much better alternative to illegal money lenders, doorstep lending companies and payday loans, which often charge very high rates of interest.

Find your nearest credit union

Spending and borrowing

Budgeting and planning for the future can be the best way to keep on top of your finances and make your money go further. These sites bring together the latest deals, vouchers, best accounts and product reviews:

  • Money Advice Service – unbiased and impartial money advice, budget planner tool, benefits information and access to free financial advisors.
  • Money Saving Expert – the latest money saving tips, best deals and general financial advice.

Reducing your household bills

Sometimes, covering the costs of running your home can be a struggle. Here are some resources that can help you to manage your household outgoings and make savings: 

  • My Home Energy Switch offers free and impartial advice on how to reduce your home energy bills. All you need is your postcode and a current energy bill to compare and switch online.  Or you can call 0800 001 4706 to talk to an advisor.
  • USwitch – compares gas and electricity suppliers, broadband deals, mobile phone deals, car and home insurance.
  • Energy Saving Trust – energy advice from a government funded organisation, including tips, information and details of grants and offers.
  • WaterSure – offers a special low cost tariff as part of the WaterSure scheme, if you have a water meter and are receiving certain benefits.
  • Love Food (Hate Waste) – offers recipe tips, and ideas on using leftovers and more (it’s estimated the average household throws away around £400 worth of food a year).
  • Trussell Trust – to find a food bank near you or make a donation.

Don’t forget to contact your council to check if you can get help from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme - also called Council Tax Support.

Home contents insurance

You’re responsible for insuring the contents of your home and replacing items if they’re damaged or stolen. 

Shop around for the best quotes or look at My Home (0845 337 2463), a special scheme for people living in social housing or affordable accommodation, including shared owners and leaseholders. 

Our managing your money guide is full of useful advice on taking control of your finances, so you can get on top of what you owe and make the money you have go further. 

Find out more about home contents insurance.