Nottingham City Council is launching an information campaign to raise awareness of the money advice and guidance available as winter approaches and the cost of living crisis bites.
Nottingham has some of the highest rates of poverty in the country and, like the rest of the UK, people are facing increases in food and energy bills, mortgage rates and inflation.
There are concerns that as well as the financial impact on households, people’s mental well-being could be affected as they struggle to cope, and this may lead to people avoiding or delaying getting the advice they need.
The council’s campaign aims to encourage people to talk about money and be aware of the advice and guidance which is available.
The campaign will signpost people to the Ask Lion website with the main homepage www.asklion.co.uk/money. Campaign posters and banners will be displayed across the city to encourage people to visit the website for information and advice this winter. A campaign leaflet will be distributed through public sector partners and emailed to parents through schools and nurseries. Between now and Christmas the council will publish weekly tips and advice through its My Nottingham social media channels and email newsletters.
The website homepage pulls together simple steps everyone can take to help manage their finances, such as:
- Taking control of your household spending with a budget plan, using free budgeting tools at www.asklion.co.uk/budgeting
- Tips for reducing and prioritising your bills at www.asklion.co.uk/bills
- Checking the benefits you’re entitled to, using the Benefits Calculator tool at www.asklion.co.uk/benefits
- Finding places which offer cheap food, including community supermarkets, social eating projects and food banks at www.asklion.co.uk/food
- Saving whenever possible – perhaps with the Notts and Lincs Credit Union www.nottsandlincscu.co.uk
- Free or discounted public transport in Nottingham with Concessionary Travel Passes or other travel discount schemes at www.asklion.co.uk/travel
- Benefits for children including free childcare, Healthy Start Vouchers and free school meals can be found at www.asklion.co.uk/benefits.
The Ask Lion website also signposts people to a wide range of support agencies providing free and confidential advice with more complex issues.
Debt advice services can provide guidance on issues such as arranging temporary payment holidays, debt consolidation options, managing bills, dealing with bailiffs and debt management companies. These include StepChange Debt Charity (www.stepchange.org), National Debtline (www.nationaldebtline.org) as well as local advisers available through www.asklion.co.uk/debt
Anyone struggling to pay their rent or mortgage should speak to their landlord or mortgage lender in the first instance. However information about housing support including Housing Aid, Tenancy Advice and Discretionary Housing Payments is available at www.asklion.co.uk/housing
Mental health support is also available through www.asklion.co.uk/mentalhealth with a directory of local support services, emergency helplines and online resources.
While a lot of information is available online, it’s recognised that not everyone has access to the internet. Therefore all Nottingham City Libraries provide free access to computers with an internet connection, and free access to wi-fi from personal devices.
The City Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Adele Williams, said: “No one should have to make the choice between eating and heating; no parent should have to watch their children miss meals because their cupboard is bare; no worker should have to put in 50 to 60 hour weeks, working multiple jobs, just to scrape by. But sadly, with rocketing inflation, energy bills and other pressures, that is the stark choice many face this winter.
“We know that many Nottingham households were already struggling and that the cost of living crisis is going to hit them hard. With our campaign, we want to make sure that people are aware that they are not alone, help is at hand. The Ask Lion website provides a useful one-stop-shop for information and advice.
“It also signposts to the organisations who can provide face-to-face advice and guidance. It is better to face any financial problems with the confidential support of advice services who can provide really practical guidance. And there is help available for anyone whose mental health is being affected by their financial situation too.”
The council would like to thank the members of the Nottingham Financial Resilience Partnership for supporting the campaign