If you have experienced a change in circumstances or your household income is feeling squeezed, this page will help you find sources of income and understand the support available to help you manage household bills and save money.
It’s easy to think you might be earning too much to claim benefits or wouldn't be entitled to them. Alternatively, if you’re already getting benefits, you might not realise you could be entitled to extra support. But around £10 billion in benefits goes unclaimed every year, so it’s always worth taking another look.
If you live in Northern Ireland, find out more about what benefits and financial support you might be entitled to on the nidirect website
If you've done the online benefits check but find you're still struggling financially, the RCN Welfare Service can provide advice and support. See booking an appointment for more details.
It’s worth calling your current supplier to ask for a better deal. For example, find out if you can opt for paperless billings or move to a cheaper tariff. These simple steps might lead to big savings.
If you’re currently on a variable rate tariff, consider switching to a fixed rate tariff from your existing energy supplier.
A fixed rate tariff is good because:
Phone and broadband are essential if you’re job seeking or even just want to find the best deals to help save you money, as online offers are often cheaper, and you can use comparison sites to check tariffs and prices.
To help you stay digitally connected, some providers offer low-cost plans if you’re getting certain income-related benefits, including:
There are several cheap SIM only contracts with mobile data, which could be better value than a broadband package and they usually offer faster connections.
It’s always a good idea to review all your bills and payments to see if you can save money by switching providers or moving onto cheaper plans. (See RCNXtra pages)
For example, it's estimated that around 400,000 homes are in the wrong Council Tax band so it's worth checking in case you could be entitled to a cheaper rate.
You could save money by switching to a water meter as opposed to a standard rate, or if you live alone, you may be able to claim a cheaper rate.
If you are working part-time, have children, or are on a low salary then it might be worth exploring if you can claim Universal Credit.
See our page on benefits for more information and to do a benefits check.
If you’re able to take on the extra hours, you could earn money from a second job.
The RCN Careers Service can offer advice on CV writing, applications, and interview coaching.
Many charities, professional, faith and other local organisations offer grants. You usually don’t have to pay the money back.
See our page on Charitable Funding and other sources of help.
If you’ve lost your job or can’t work because of ill health or an accident you might have insurance cover you’ve forgotten about that might offer income protection.
If you’ve got a mortgage, check if you took out any policies to cover payments. Also, some bank accounts offer add-on packages of insurance.
Your workplace may offer support if you have an accident or long-term illness. Check your staff handbook to find out.
If you have a spare bedroom in your home, you might want to consider renting it out under the Rent a Room scheme, which lets you earn up to £7,500 a year in rental income without paying tax on it.
You don’t have to be a homeowner to take advantage of the scheme. If you’re renting you can also let out a room to a lodger, if your tenancy agreement allows you to do so.
If you’re on Universal Credit you can earn up to the £7,500 limit without it affecting your payment.
See HS223 Rent a Room Scheme on the gov.uk website for more information.
Are you getting certain income-related benefits and need help to pay for essentials like clothing, furniture or a rent deposit? You might be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan or Budgeting Advance if you’re getting Universal Credit. You’ll need to have been claiming Universal Credit for at least six months before you can apply.
If you’re facing an emergency such as broken washing machine, or you need urgent help with energy bills and are vulnerable, there might be local help available. This is known as local welfare assistance.
If you apply, a decision as to whether to provide help and how much will be based on your individual situation.
Letting the people or company you owe money to know sooner rather than later that you’re having difficulties will enable them to put support in place for you.
If you’re struggling with money or worried about falling into debt, your options might include:
Contact the RCN Welfare Service if you feel unable to manage your finances. See booking an appointment with the RCN Welfare Service for more information.
Living on a low income, particularly if it’s caused by an income shock such as job loss, bereavement, or relationship breakdown can be very stressful and affect your ability to deal with problems when so much is else is going on in your life.
Experiencing physical or mental health problems might also mean you struggle to manage your money. It’s important to remember there is help available to manage your finances if you’re struggling.
Tools and calculators:
Booking an appointment: