Money Advice

The first step to preventing food poverty is to build the financial resilience of people living in Shropshire

  • Low wages combined with a high rate of part time and insecure work makes it difficult for many households to keep pace with the increases in the cost of living, leading to debt problems for many

  • The complex nature of welfare changes since 2010 have left many households confused about their eligibility to support

  • Over the next few years a large number of households will need to apply for Universal Credit, leading to a hiatus in benefit payments

 

  • There is evidence which suggests that some households are unaware of their eligibility to certain benefits. For example, Healthy Start Vouchers are available to families on low incomes with young children and can only be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables and milk. However just 64% if eligible households in Shropshire claim the vouchers​

Advice Services

There is a pressing need for advice services across the county to assist people maximise their income and increase their financial resilience. However, services in this area have been impacted by austerity cuts. In recent years Shropshire's Citizen's Advice Service has closed many of its offices around the county and their service is now largely telephone based. A number of other agencies such as Housing Associations offer money advice, however this is not often immediately apparent to households who do not live in Housing Association properties.

 

We have created the Shropshire Larder website as a way of bringing together information which will be of assistance to people in food poverty. 

shropshire larder.PNG

Sarah, in her late 50s, became homeless after her partner unexpectedly left her. To get by she found two part time jobs. Unaware of how the benefits system worked, she didn't claim working tax credits. Her claim for housing benefit was ended when she earnt additional money through working overtime. She started using food banks after she was unable to make ends meet and built up significant council tax arrears.

“Where would you go for help? I guess the job centre, as CAB has closed down. That’s the problem with this town is that everything seems to close down."

(Interviewee from Whitchurch)

There is a need for:

  • Clear information about where to go for help and advice on money issues

  • Benefit checks to ensure that people are receiving the help they are entitled to

  • Promotion of underclaimed benefits e.g. Healthy Start, Attendance Allowance

  • Assistance with new benefits claims e.g. Universal Credit

  • Debt counselling and Support

  • Assistance with budgeting and money management

  • Clear information about schemes which assist people on low incomes e.g. help with energy costs​

More broadly there is a need to promote changes to policy which would increase the level of income for households in Shropshire. For example, encouraging employers to adopt the living wage, or campaigning for welfare reform.

 

Schools across the county can also play an important role in helping young people to develop financial management skills, particularly in the areas of budgeting and debt management.