Office Closed - MERRY CHRISTMAS

The office will be closed from today, Friday 21st, for the festive period. We will re-open on Thursday 3rd January.

Everyone at Financial Fitness would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment

Pregnant or recently had a child? You could be due £600. Contact Social Security Scotland now on 0800 182 2222 or visit mygov.scot/pregnancy-and-baby-payment to find out more #BestStartGrant #SocialSecurityScotland

Client Feedback

A recent comment from a client in a Thank You card we received - "In the darkest moments you are always a bright light, when no one is listening you are always there, when you have no where to turn we always know where to go, when you are feeling so low you are our strength. You don't know how much you mean to us and lots of other people in Inverclyde. Thank you so much for being our friend."

The Budget

In a move welcomed by many debt charities, the Government is extending the 'breathing space' from legal action given to those facing repayment difficulties, from six weeks to sixty days.

Bank Account

One of the many services provided by our Money Adviser is to help open up bank accounts for those who don't have one. He will book an appointment with the bank and accompany you to the appointment as well as advising you on the necessary identification required to open the account.

Change To Phone Line Hours

Due to our current levels of staffing, we have taken the decision to change the hours in which our phone lines are open. While the office will be open for the normal hours the phone lines will only be open from 10am - 2pm for the foreseeable future.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Financial Fitness Stats

So far, in the new financial year Financial Fitness has seen 965 new clients and helped to secure £2,433,778.33 in benefit and money advice gains. We are working hard and working against a long appointment waiting list but we look set to have another strong year.

New Funding

Due to a recent award of funding, Financial Fitness is looking to increase its activity in rural areas of Inverclyde (Wemyss Bay, Inverkip, Gourock, Quarriers and Kilmacolm). We aim to deliver a number of awareness sessions at Community Centres, Churches, Lunch Clubs and Community Council meetings in these areas to generate more knowledge and demand for our services.

If you live in any of these areas and attend any groups and feel it would be good for a visit from ourselves get in touch on 01475 729239 or contact us via email at finfitteam@yahoo.co.uk and ask for Ross.

Summer Gala Day

Financial Fitness will have an Information stall available at Greenock Town Hall on Wednesday 8th August from 11am to 3pm at an event held by Cloch Housing Association.

Client Feedback

"Thank you for giving me peace of mind. Your staff are so friendly and re-assuring."

"I was made to feel like a human being and was treated with respect and dignity."

"The staff are really professional and you realise that they are here to help people in difficult financial situations."

Case Study - Elderly

Mrs M, a retired 71 year old woman with several health problems, was advised to contact ourselves for benefits advice. Our Adviser carried out a benefit check and recommended that Mrs M claim Attendance Allowance due to her health issues. The claim was successful, entitling Mrs M to £82.30 per week (£4,279 per year).

Statutory Maternity Pay

If you are 16 or over and work for an employer you may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay. You will not have to repay this if you do not return to work. You qualify if: You have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks and are in week 24 your pregnancy; Your earnings are at least £113 per week; Your employer is given proper notice; You are still in your job in week 26.

Free School Meals - UC

Families that claim Universal Credit with an income that exceeds £610 per month will no longer be able to apply for free school meals for their children.

Debit Card Payments

Debit card payments have overtaken cash use for the first time, new figures show, as contactless technology takes a firm hold on day-to-day spending. A total of 13.2 billion debit card payments were made last year, a rise of 14% on the previous year, according to banking trade body UK Finance. That outstripped the 13.1 billion cash payments made, as the use of notes and coins dropped by 15%.

Case Study - Carers

Mr and Mrs B both experienced life altering changes in their circumstances, which resulted in both of them having to care for close family members. Whilst this significantly impacted on their employment and household income, our Adviser was able to assist them both to claim Carers Allowance. This resulted in an additional weekly income of £124 per week (£6,458 per year).

Inverclyde Carers Week

Financial Fitness will have a stall at the Tontine Hotel on Friday 15th June for Inverclyde Carers Week. Registration for the event will start from 10am for a 10:30am start. The event will finish at 2pm with tea/coffee and lunch provided.

Benefit Advice - Employers/Employees

Did you know that Financial Fitness can provide advice and support for employees in the workplace?

If you employ staff (or you are an employee) we can arrange for our Adviser to come along to your workplace at a suitable time, to offer benefits advice for staff who may be needing some help. If you are interested, please email finfiteam@yahoo.co.uk or call us on (01475) 729239.

Financial Year 17' - 18'

In the last financial year, Financial Fitness provided benefit and money advice support for 2152 new clients. In that time, we secured £6,203,537.97 in financial gains for the residents of Inverclyde.

Carers Allowance and Work

You can work and still claim Carers Allowance as long as you earn under £120 per week (net) and are still providing care for at least 35 hours per week. However, any additional benefits you may receive, such as Income Support, Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, will be affected.

Case Study - Money Advice

Mr M, a retired local man, was having difficulty accessing a private pension. Our adviser assisted Mr M to locate the pension, which had a total fund value of £180,000. We explained Mr M's options regarding drawing down this pension, as he was unsure of what would be best for him. Mr M has a significant increase in his household income and savings levels due to accessing the most appropriate pension option.

Office Closed - May Day

Please note that our office will be closed next Monday, May 7th, for May Day. Any messages left on our answering machine will be picked up and answered on Tuesday.

Personal Independence Payment

PIP is made up of two parts, the mobility component and the daily living component. Each component can be paid at one of two rates, either the standard rate or the enhanced rate.

To get the mobility component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of two activities, known as the mobility activities. These are: planning/following journeys and moving around.

To get the daily living component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of ten activities, known as the daily living activities. These are: preparing food, eating/drinking, managing treatments, washing/bathing, managing toilet needs/incontinence, dressing/undressing, communicating verbally, reading/understanding written information, mixing with others and making decisions about money.

First Aid Training

Our office will be closed on Monday 23rd April as we are taking part in an Emergency First Aid at Work training course with St Andrew's First Aid Training & Supplies Ltd.

Universal Credit - Housing Costs

The Government have recently announced that 18 to 21 year olds are now entitled to support with housing costs within Universal Credit and no longer need to meet certain requirements to be entitled.

Easter Holidays

 

A note to all our service users - the office will be closed on Good Friday (30th March) and Easter Monday (2nd April). Any phone calls to the office will go straight to answer machine and messages will be picked up by a member of staff on the Tuesday.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE

Scottish Welfare Fund

You can make a telephone claim for a Crisis Grant or a Community Care Grant by contacting Inverclyde Council's Discretionary Payments Team on 01475 714444. Crisis Grants can be awarded to meet expenses that have arisen due to an unforeseen emergency or disaster and you must have no other means of paying for what is needed. Community Care Grants can be awarded to help people continue independent living, preventing the need for institutional care or supporting those leaving institutional care. 

Cold Weather Payments

Payments will be made when your local temperature is recorded as an average of zero degrees Celsius for 7 consecutive days. You will get a payment of £25 for each 7 day period of cold weather between 1st November and 31st March. You will receive Cold Weather Payments if you are getting : Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based), Employment Support Allowance (Income Based) and Universal Credit (special circumstances). You don't need to apply, you will receive it automatically into the account you receive your benefit. If you think you should receive a payment but haven't - call 08459 15 15 15.

Office Closures

Due to the recent weather conditions. The office was closed on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd March. The office was open as normal on Monday 5th March and clients booked in on the Thursday and Friday were re-arranged for as soon as possible.

Office Closed Days

A note to all our service users, on the last Wednesday of each month the office will be closed to the public. This allows all members of staff to catch up on any outstanding work. Any calls made to the office on these days will go straight to the answer machine and picked up by a member of staff.

Case Study - Disabled Client

Mr M, a 61 year old man, recently had to give up work due to long-term ill health. Unaware of his entitlement to benefits, Mr M contacted ourselves for a benefit check. Our adviser identified entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment, resulting in successful claims totalling £248 per week (£12,896 per year).

New Flexible Payment Arrangements for UC Claimants in Scotland

Good news for Universal Credit claimants in Inverclyde.

From 31st January 2018, UC claimants can ask for their UC payments to be made twice-monthly (instead of monthly) and can request housing costs to be paid direct to a landlord (instead of being paid to the claimant).

From 14th February 2018, the 7 waiting days at the start of a UC claim will be removed, meaning new UC claims will be paid from day one of the claim.

Work Pays Training Sessions

As part of our continued efforts to help our unemployed clients move into work, we run a 'Work Pays' information session to highlight the various financial incentives of getting into employment. Although funding for this service ends in March 2018 we will be working hard on trying to find new funding, enabling us to continue providing these sessions long into the future.

Financial Fitness Success

Since our formation in March 1999, we have provided well over 40,000 advice appointments resulting in us securing over £50 million in unclaimed benefits, access to pensions as well as substantial debt being written off. Our staff continue to go above and beyond to provide a quality service that has led to Financial Fitness being the success that it is today. Everyone at Financial Fitness is enthusiastic about continuing our hard work and providing quality advice to the residents of Inverclyde for the foreseeable future.

New Twitter Account Launched

Our new twitter account has now launched - for updates on benefits, facts and figures, changes to rules as well as information on surgeries and events provided by ourselves please follow us on @Financial_Fit29

New Twitter Account Coming Soon...

Keep an eye out for our new Twitter account coming soon...this will have lots of information on our work, benefit updates and events we are hosting over the coming months...

Universal Credit Changes

From 2018 there are a number of changes that could affect your Universal Credit. For more information please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page.

Financial Fitness launch new tri-age service

From December 2016 we are introducing a telephone tri-age system to enable clients to receive quick advice and guidance on their benefit entitlements and to deal with basic problems or issues with their benefits. Rather than waiting a few days or weeks for an appointment, clients will be able to get telephone advice instantly or within 24 hours of calling us. If an appointment is still required then we will book one for you. You can access this service by calling (01475) 729239 during office hours Monday to Friday. An Adviser will be able to deal with your basic enquiries immediately over the phone, or will call you back within 24 hours. This will allow clients to access advice quickly and reduce unnecessary or wasted face-to-face appointments.































Congratulations!

Congratulations to Branchton Community Centre for their recent Voluntary Organisation of the Year award at the CVS awards ceremony last week. This was a really strong category with some really great organisations all vying for the top prize so a massive well done to everyone connected with the Branchton Centre. Unfortunately we were unable to claim the Equalities and Inclusion award this year but a big congratulations to Belville Community Gardens for their success in this category.

Financial Fitness nominated for Award!!!

Financial Fitness have been nominated for an award at the forthcoming CVS Inverclyde "Reach For The Starts" awards ceremony on Wednesday 9th November 2016 at the Beacon in Greenock. We are in the "Equalities and Inclusion" category, bidding for a fourth straight success in this field. Everyone connected with Financial Fitness is looking forward to a great evening which showcases the best of the third sector and voluntary work in Inverclyde. 

Universal Credit "rolls-out" in Inverclyde from November 2016

Universal Credit (UC), the biggest change to the welfare system in over 70 years, is being "rolled-out" to more client groups within Inverclyde from November 23rd 2016. UC amalgamates 6 current "legacy" benefits into one monthly payment and will include housing costs paid to the tenant rather than the landlord. You must make and maintain your claim online and new claimants will normally have to wait up to 6 weeks for their first payment. There are new stricter "conditionality" rules and tougher sanctions for those who do not comply with the DWP's requirements. Please see our Universal Credit overview in the Welfare Benefits section of this website and our leaflet in the Downloads section.   

Comic Relief Grant Award - 2015

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded 3 year's worth of funding from Comic Relief. This is the culmination of a long bidding process and competition was tough, however we are over the moon that this funding has been secured and will allow us to provide some of our advice services for a further 3 years.

Bank Of Scotland Foundation Grant Award - 2015        

Financial Fitness have beaten off competition from almost 200 organisations to land a two-year funding award from the Bank Of Scotland Foundation Large Grants Programme. We are delighted to have been successful with our bid, especially when the competition was so fierce! We look forward to working with the Foundation over the next two years.

Thomas McIntyre

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our colleague and friend, Thomas "Tam" McIntyre, has passed away following a long battle with cancer. Tam was employed with us since 1999, during which time he supported thousands of local people with their advice needs. He was a very well-known figure in Inverclyde, both for his work with us and his previous work with Inverclyde Council and within the local community. Our thoughts are with his wife and daughter. He will be sadly missed.

Financial Fitness Reach Milestone!!

2014 saw Financial Fitness celebrate it's 15th birthday. During that time we have supported 35,000 individuals and generated over £30m worth of unclaimed benefits and debt write-offs for our clients. But we are not resting on our laurels...we are still very busy, helping over 4,000 clients each year with their financial advice needs.

We have moved!

Please note that Financial Fitness have now moved premises to 29 West Stewart Street, Greenock. 

Our telephone number remains 01475 729239 and our e-mail address remains finfitteam@yahoo.co.uk















































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