LOW-income families who seek free financial advice from the Money Talk Team are on average now £1,850 better off and the team can help families in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area who are eligible for Best Start support get what they are due.

The Money Talk Team is on hand to help parents in Central Fife who are struggling to pay their bills at the end of the month look at ways to save money, reduce household bills and check they are getting what they are entitled to.

With around 450,000 cases of unclaimed benefits in Scotland, it can help low-income families in the Cowden-Gelly area identify what financial support might be available.

Scottish Government Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell, said: “The Money Talk Team is making a huge difference to the thousands of families that have already taken advantage of this free service.

“The friendly, experienced advisers talk callers through the options available, letting them know exactly what they are entitled to and helping them save money.

“But there are still too many families out there not getting what they should be.

“If you’re a parent struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re in or out of work, one call to the free phoneline is all it takes to get some advice that could be a massive help to your household.”

Money Talk Team is the new name for Financial Health Check, which started in 2018 and is delivered by Citizens Advice network in Scotland. It can be accessed through their free helpline on 0800 085 7145 or by visiting a local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said: “With a footprint in every community across Scotland and 80 years of experience of delivering confidential and impartial advice, the Citizens Advice network in Scotland is uniquely placed to deliver the Money Talk Team service.

“People should be claiming what they are due. That’s how the system works; we all pay in and get support when we need it.”

The service is delivered by Citizens Advice network in Scotland supported by Scottish Government funding of £3.3 million over two years (2018-2020).

An example of how the Best Start scheme has helped a family can be seen from the case of a single father looks after his disabled daughter and was previously on Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Child Benefits but due to suffering from severe depression and back pain he could no longer work.

He was unsure if he was claiming all the benefits he was entitled to and spoke to The Money Talk Team for advice: “I wanted to get some advice on maximising my rent and income and also make sure I was claiming everything I was entitled to. I had been given incorrect advice in the past so I was grateful for any support that the Money Talk Team could give me.

"I was advised on claiming Carer’s Allowance to help look after my daughter and also got support with my application for Employment Support Allowance. The adviser put me at ease and made me feel really reassured.”

A single mum was referred to the Money Talk Team by her Housing Officer after being behind in paying her bills and expecting her first baby: “It was a distressing time, I was pregnant and very unsure of how I was going to cope when I had to give up work to be a single parent. I was advised by The Money Talk Team as to what support I was entitled to which was so reassuring.

“I was told to check the status of my maternity pay, made aware of the grants and benefits available and an affordable repayment plan was agreed with my local council.

"After speaking to the advisers I was no longer stressed about the future and felt really supported.”