Christmas can be the most magical time of the year with presents, decorations and family. This time can also cause misery for others with loneliness, debt, pressure, addictions and violence.
The information below is designed to provide helpful advice and support for all.
Planning For Christmas
Top tips to avoid over-spending this Christmas:
- Keep it simple and only buy for close loved ones.
- Speak to family and friends in advance and tell them that you are keeping it small this year. They may love the fact that you have told them and reduced the pressure on them to buy for you.
- Make a list, and check it twice – buying on impulse can be dangerously expensive.
- Turn down the heating while you cook Christmas dinner, the excess heat from the kitchen will help to warm surrounding areas.
- Make your own Christmas cards – it’s a great way to spend time with your family, gives a personalised greeting, and can save you money.
- When decorating your Christmas tree and house, switch to LED Christmas lights to reduce your energy consumption by up to 90%.
- Turn your Christmas lights off when you leave the house or go to bed, this will save on your bills and reduce the risk of fire. Buy a timer plug that you pre-set times for lights and appliances to switch on and off.
- Watch out for illegal money lenders or loan sharks. They seem friendly at first, but are bound to bite you back. Click here for more information:
- It’s not too late to switch – compare your energy tariffs and prepare to switch provider to save £££. Some even offer money back for switching! Visit money saving expert website
- Give an IOU – If you’re planning a large purchase like a TV or games console, consider waiting for the January sales. Instead give a nicely-wrapped IOU, telling them you’re waiting for the sales.
You can find more Christmas money tips at money saving expert
Paying your rent
Your priority bills remain a priority over Christmas. To make a payment click here.
If you are having difficulty making payments please click here for more information.
We are here to help but using Christmas as a reason for not paying your rent will not be acceptable. Payments should be made weekly or in advance, preferably monthly by Direct Debit.
Debts and arrears
Dealing with debt can be stressful but the quicker you deal with it, the easier it becomes. If you can’t pay or will be late then it’s best to make contact before the organisation contacts you. Being proactive is always better as it looks as though you want to resolve the matter.
Council rent accounts
If want to discuss your council tax please contact on:
Telephone: 01962 848 288
If you have debts with other organisations such as credit cards, loans, energy providers then you can seek help at any time:
National Debtline Tel: 0808 808 4000
Citizens Advice Tel: 03444 111 444
Christians Against Poverty Tel: 0800 328 0006
Budgeting for Christmas
Setting up a savings scheme is a great way to spread the cost of buying presents. You’ll also know how much you have to spend and won’t miss bills or build up debt. Many banks allow you to set up a separate savings account. Click here for more information.
Many supermarkets allow you to save year-round and provide a bonus at Christmas. Click here for more information:
For lots of self-help advice including access to the Community Pantries, Food Banks and local charities click here:
Staying safe at Christmas
The Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support 24 hours a day. They can help people who are experiencing feeling of distress or despair.
Feeling lonely at Christmas? You’re not alone
In 2013 Age UK said 450,000 over 65s faced the prospect of Christmas alone. Research and anecdotal evidence is clear that Christmas can be a particularly painful time for older people who experience loneliness throughout the year.
Crime and anti-social behaviour:
If you are witnessing a crime taking place you can dial 999 and report as its happening.
For all other ways to report, including on-line click here
For local campaigns and advice click here
Do you worry that your partner or family member might hurt you, control your money or what you do? You don’t have to put up with it.
Click here for lots of information and support so that you can take action when you want to.
Borrowing Money – Illegal Money Lending
Has a friend or someone that you barely know lent you some money without a repayment agreement, never ending payments or violent threats when you can’t pay?
You may be a victim of a Loan Shark and there is a lot of help and support when you need it. Click here for support
Online shopping scams cost shoppers £15.4 million over the Christmas period last year.
New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that 28,049 shoppers were conned out of their money when shopping online over the Christmas period last year – an increase of almost two thirds (61 per cent) when compared to the same period in the previous year.
Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online as reports of online shopping fraud have continued to surge. Here are some simple tips to help you and your family enjoy a secure online shopping experience this festive season.
Where to shop
Buying from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.
When it's time to pay for your items, check there's a 'closed padlock' icon in the browser's address bar. Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases.
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you’re unsure about a link, don’t use the it – go separately to the website. Report suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to: 7726.
Make sure that your really important accounts (such as your email account or online shopping accounts) are protected by strong passwords that you don't use anywhere else.
If things go wrong
If you've lost money to an online shopping scam, tell your bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Police Scotland (for Scotland). By doing this, you'll be helping to prevent others becoming victims of cyber crime.
For more of the government’s latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware