Hard-pressed residents in Sheffield are being offered help to manage their money ahead of changes to benefits.
Sheffield Council is urging its tenants to ditch high street banks and stay on top of their outgoings with the city’s Credit Union.
A new account has been developed by both organisations ahead of the government’s introduction of Universal Credit in Sheffield.
Universal Credit replaces Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Housing Benefit and is currently being rolled out across the UK.
Called the Jam Jar, the new account divides money into different pots for council rent, tax, bills and savings.
People decide how much money goes into each pot, with the help of a Credit Union officer at the headquarters in Commercial Street in the city centre.
It is hoped the scheme will prevent large numbers of people falling into arrears following the changes to handouts.
Coun Harry Harpham, council cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods said: “Universal Credit means tenants are placed under a great deal of financial pressure.
“Jam Jar accounts are an excellent way for tenants to manage their money securely and know their important bills like rent are being paid.”
Under the scheme, customers arrange for part or all of their income to be paid into their Credit Union account.
A financial expert will then discuss with them what priority bills are to be paid on their behalf – for example rent, council tax or utility bills. Accounts are free if used just to pay rent.
Maxine Stavrianakos, head of income management at the council’s housing service said: “If tenants intend to claim benefits it is important to set up a Credit Union account or bank account.
“This is to ensure all priority bills including your rent are paid without delay once they receive Universal Credit.
“We hope many tenants will opt for this safe and efficient way of managing their money as more changes to benefits and welfare come into effect over the next few years.”