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Can't afford rent(20 Posts)
My partner and I are having major money problems. We currently live in a tiny one bedroom flat with our 8 month old son. The rent costs £600pcm, and just over £100pcm for council tax, £70pcm for energy bills, and roughly the same for gas and water bills. We also have loan repayments and credit card repayments which total roughly £150pcm. We have Sky broadband with tv and phone, which costs about £40 a month. This is necessary as we are both students with The Open University and need it to continue our studies. Besides that, we have no extra entertainment or unnecessaries. We are struggling to feed ourselves, we can only just pay rent, bills and food for our son.
I went on maternity leave in January, but I am not able to return to work because my contract expired. I am actively seeking work, but my maternity pay ran out a month ago, and we aren't entitled to anything but child tax credits and child benefits, which just cover my sons food and clothing. My partner technically works full time (he has a full time job but is released for 6 days a week to university and training etc), and earns about £1100 a month. Sometimes less, sometimes more. I worry about child care costs when I do finally manage to get a job (it took me a year to find the one I already had and it was temporary).
We have applied to the council for help finding a home, but they have simply told us that they take 6 months to a year to process an application, and we would be looking at 5 years before they could help us. I don't see us as being able to keep up with the rent and the bills. Most days my partner and I just have one meal a day to keep the costs down. We're even considering finding a studio flat because they're cheaper. Even so, if we do find a cheaper place, we can't afford the initial deposit.
I suffer quite severely with depression and anxiety and social phobia, I have to work very hard to cope on a good day, but with so much stress, things are just getting worse and worse, as the days go by, the more down I am, but quieter I become, the less I eat, the more reluctant I am to go out (which is not acceptable with an 8 month old son). With me not being able to go out (I also don't know the area well, or drive), I can't easily get to anywhere for advice. My partner works 12 hour shifts and by the time he's home, it's too late to go anywhere for help.
I've got no friends, and I've got no family nearby or who are even able to help (I have family that simply don't want to help), and my partner's friends and family are in no situation to help us out.
I'm scared about what could happen when we can no longer afford to pay rent. I really don't know what to do.
This sounds dire and I'm sorry you're in this position. Your best bet is to give Shelter a call, they'll be able to talk you through your options and will hopefully know places you can go to for help.
Can you post a SOA ... I know it's intrusive but there may be some MN 'ters that could help
What is SOA?
We could get rid of Sky, it's been considered, and we still are considering it, but we still need an internet connection for university work, so we would still be needing to pay out for internet and phone line as we can't get a cheap cable connection due to it not being available in the area, plus the landlord wouldn't allow it.
Statement of affairs .. List ALL your incomings then ALL your outgoings. They'll be people who are / have been in this situation that can help you
If it's OU, could you not live somewhere cheaper, thus pay less in rent? Presumably there's no need to live in a specific area?
Make and appointment with the money advice worker at the citizens advice bureau. Have you checked if you are eligible for housing benefit?
CAP offer free debt counselling and are very good. Trey may be able to suggest ideas.
You need to put the debts onto a debt management plan - contact Stepchange or Christians Against Poverty, they will help you to contact your creditors and make token payments (usually £1 per month) until your financial circumstances improve.
Have you checked you are claiming everything you're entitled to? You should be getting child benefit and tax credits on your income, possibly also some housing benefit.
Sky line rental, and broadband is around £20 per month, so worth keeping for your studies and just cancelling the tv part. Have you trimmed down your other outgoings - mobile phones etc? Do you run a car, could this go and your DP use public transport?
Your income is similar to my household income at present, and we live reasonably comfortably on this (me, DH and DS) so there's no reason you should be at the level of eating one meal a day!
I'd also recommend you talk urgently to somewhere like CAB or one of the free debt advice services. Check www.turn2us.org.uk to make sure you're claiming all benefits available. With an income of just £1100/month you should be entitled to Working Tax Credits. If you're students, also have a word with your college as there are certain grants available. Your rent sound incredibly high for a one bedroom flat. Is there nothing cheaper in the area?
Regarding your mental health, if you feel it's getting worse do talk to your GP rather than struggling in isolation.
Scary situation. You really need some thorough benefits and debt advice - I suggest you go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau and ask them to help you, find it here www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm .CAB are better than other advice organisations in these circumstances because you don't just have a debt problem, you also have a benefits sitution and a housing problem and CABs are better placed to deal with this sort of multi-layered problem than other advice agencies.
I am sorry you find it difficult to get out, but this is the best way for you to get all the help you need in one place. If this means your partner is going to have to take a days holiday or even call in sick and miss a shift, then that is what needs to happen.
As it's Saturday, here are some things for you to be thinking about over the weekend. The more you have explored your situation together, the better prepared you will be for talking to CAB. As it's difficult for you to get around, you want to make the most of each visit. I can't tell you what to do because it would need a lot more information than you have given. But some things jump out as being essential right away:
You need to check that you are getting all the benefits that you are entitled to. Use the calculator here www.turn2us.org.uk/benefits_search.aspx - as you will find, it's rather long to go through, it needs to know where you live etc because some things are variable depending on your local council, which is why "advice" on this sort of bulleting board can only be well-meaning pointers, it's not possible to give you figures.
You do need to draw up a very honest budget, looking at what your incomes are and what you are spending. You don't have to post it here if you don't want, but you need it first for your own decision making and second to discuss with CAB when you go and see them. There are lots of budget calculators on the internet, I like this one www.stoozing.com/calculator/soa.php. So put what you think are your real expenditures in there and don't forget to save it, so you can later come back and change it, for example if you starting getting some Housing Benefit to help with the rent.
Sorting out the long term solution to your debts is not the most important thing at the moment - at the moment you don't have enough money money to manage even if you pay NOTHING to your debts. This impossible budget is what has to be tackled first - only when that is resolved are you in a good position to tackel your debts. At the moment you need to be looking for ways to increase your income and reduce your expenditure see debtcamel.co.uk/snapshot/not-enough-to-live-on/ for ideas. The most obvious one is to check you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to, see the calculator linked to above.
But right away you need to stop making ANY payments to your debts. I don't know what the best long term solutions to your debts because you havent said how much each of you owe or what you are studying in the OU or what sort of jobs you hope to get in the long run. But at the moment you can't afford to pay your debts any money, not even a token payment. And from what you have said, there are not going to be any debt options for you that will let you keep a good credit rating, so you should default on all the debts right away to maximise the amount of money that you have whilst you are tackling your "not enough income / too large expenditure" problem. There is more about how to write to your creditors to tell them you can't make any payments here debtcamel.co.uk/debt-options/dmp/ and there are sample letters for you to use here www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/england_wales/debt_advice.php#6 - you want the "ask a creditor to accept token or no payments" letter in section5.
If you owe any money (credit card, loan) to the bank you are using for your current account, you are going to need to open a new bank account with someone you don't owe any money to. If your credit ratings are poor, you will need to ask for a Basic Bank Account. I suggest you go to either Barclays www.barclays.co.uk/Otheraccounts/Cashcardaccounts/CashCardAccount/P1242557963900 or the Co-op www.co-operativebank.co.uk/currentaccounts/cashminder.
When you get a job, you will be entitled to help with child care costs from Working Tax Credit if you are working more than 16 hours a week. You can use the benefit calculator linked to above to find out how much that might be.
re the OU courses. I wonder if you can manage a baby/toddler, working and doing an OU course. Even someone with no depression problems, with plenty of money and no housing problems would find that a really hard period. For you, in a cramped conditions and feeling fragile, it sounds almost impossible. Could you take a break for a couple of years and then come back to it?
re your health. Are you getting help from your doctor? If you aren't, then I think you should go and see your GP. If you are currently on meds, perhaps these could be adjusted? Or your doctor may be abkle to refer you for counselling insetad of pills or in addition to them. These referals tend to take time, so the sooner you start the process the better.
In the end what matters is you health and your family. Everything else comes second. But financial and housing problems will make it harder for you get well. Can you get your partner to read this thread? The more the two of you can work as a team, the easier it is going to be to get through the next few months.
(I don't make any money from any of the links that I give.)
Thanks for all the advice, it's been really helpful. Going through it all now.
Re OU stuff, my partner has his paid for him by his work, and I get financial support from the OU itself. I don't struggle studying with a baby. It can be hard at times, but I really enjoy it and in the long run it's going to really help.
As for my rent, it's actually quite cheap for my area. My partner works in an accident and emergency department at the hospital, and is a student nurse, so we can't move to a different area, or go far from the hospital, as neither of us drive or have a car, and public transport is really expensive here and quite a poor service.
You'll have to bear with me a bit here, but I don't know what CAP, DP, DH, DS etc means
Once again, thank you for all the help =]
CAP = Christians Against Poverty (I have to say I have had two bad experiences with them and personally would not recommend them)
DH = dear husband, DP = dear partner, DS = dear son - lots of other mumsnet acronyms listed here http://www.mumsnet.com/info/acronyms
If your partner is working 12 hour shifts , is that just 3 days a week ( I presume so if he's a student nurse)? Could you look for work fitting around his shifts so that you won't need to pay much for childcare or could he do what lots of student Nurses do and do extra bank / agency shifts as a care assistant. I have worked a Nurse in the NHS and have found this is what lots of students do to supplement their bursaries. Care work in Nursing/ residential homes or with the hospital Bank.
I am so sorry that you find yourself in this situation.
I second the advice above about checking out each and every source to see what they might be able to do.
Would you be able to access a food bank at all? Is there a church/similiar near you that might be able to point you to some sources of help? Please dont be shy about seeking help.
Would an evening job/similiar working in a supermarket in the run up to Christmas be something you might be able to do to work around your partner's committments. It would make such a difference if you/your partner were lucky enough to pick up some extra work.
Keep studying. It will all pay off in the end.
Thinking of you and hoping that things will get better soon.
If your DH is classified as full time employed I don't see how you aren't entitled to some kind of benefit if your household income is £1,100 per month and your rent is £600 per month. But also agree with you considering the possibility of an evening job.
Does your partner get an NHS student nurse bursary? What is he doing with the open uni, don't understand that bit sorry.
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