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Help someone to manage their everyday money

If you feel someone needs help with their everyday money because they’re finding it difficult to manage, there are a number of things you can do. This might be arranging formal access to their bank, getting permission to manage their benefit payments, or helping with paperwork, meetings, or day-to-day spending.

Things to consider

Here’s what you’ll need to think about before deciding what kind of help is best:

  • How long will they need someone to manage their finances for?
  • What kind of financial products or services do they need help with?
  • What will you be expected to do and can you commit to it?

Help with banking

Third-party mandate to access a bank account

A third-party mandate is a document that tells a person’s bank, building society or other account provider that they can accept instructions about that person’s money from a specific named person.

It gives you (the third party) the authority to run someone else’s bank account for them.

It’s not appropriate if:

  • the account holder is losing the ability to make relevant decisions themselves
  • you want to arrange an overdraft or open or close the account – as restrictions will mean this won’t be allowed by you, the third party.

It can be a good option if the person you’re helping:

  • needs some help managing their day-to-day banking
  • is going abroad for a long time
  • is over 18 and going to university.

Speak to the bank or account provider to request a third-party mandate arrangement.

Set up a joint bank account

Setting up a joint bank account can give a trusted person access to the money in someone else’s account. This means you’ll be able to draw out money for someone without needing their permission, and use other banking facilities offered by the account – such as overdrafts.

You can open a joint account with someone else, or change an account you already have so that it’s held in joint names.

While this could be a good informal option, there are some things you need to be aware of if you open a joint account:

  • If one of you has a poor credit history, it’s not normally a good idea to open a joint account. As soon as you open an account together, you’ll be ‘co-scored’ and your credit ratings will become linked.
  • If you set up a joint account so you can help someone pay bills and other expenses, think about keeping a separate personal account for money that isn’t used for bills.
  • The person being helped will lose some privacy – as the person helping will be able to see what they’re spending money on.
  • If the person that’s helping takes money out of the joint account, there aren’t many options for getting it back.
  • if the account becomes overdrawn, each joint account holder is responsible for the whole amount owed. This means you could end up being responsible for paying someone else’s debts.
  • If you die or lose mental capacity the person will still have access to the funds in the account.

Support to help someone pay energy bills

Is the person you want to help classed as vulnerable, for example because of age, illness or disability or mental health? Then you, or they, can ask their energy provider to go on the Priority Services Register.

Their provider will then arrange to send their bills or statements to another person (for example, a relative or friend) who has agreed to receive it.

The Priority Services Register is free. Signing up to it means the provider can ensure they give the person the right support. This can include:

  • large-format or Braille bills
  • advanced notice of service interruption
  • priority in a power cut
  • quarterly meter readings
  • yearly gas safety checks
  • meter relocation for better access.
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Using an appointee

If the person you’d like to help has a severe illness or disability and is getting benefits, they or you can ask to become an appointee. This means you can help make claims and manage benefit payments or discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC.

An appointee is only allowed to manage benefit payments, not the rest of the person’s finances.

An appointee can be a friend or relative, or someone from an organisation – such as a solicitor or local council.

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What is it?

A person can give one-off informal consent – usually verbally – authorising you to speak on their behalf to a service provider.

You’ll usually only be allowed to deal with one specific issue, typically in the presence of the person concerned

How to set it up

You would both have to contact the organisation or provider at the same time, and the person would give their verbal consent to the member of staff helping you at the meeting.

Consent can be given over the phone or face-face.

Getting Access to Funds (only available in Scotland)

If the person you want to help has lost mental capacity and their financial needs aren’t complex, you can apply to have access to their finances.

Access to Funds allows you to access their bank account for meeting their day-to-day living expenses and paying off debts. 

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If the person has a Post Office card account

If the person’s benefits are paid into this type of account and they find it hard to get to a Post Office, they can ask for a named person (called a ‘permanent agent’) to have access to their account as well.

Post Office accounts are due to be closed permanently in November 2021 and the person might now need help setting up a new account to receive their State Pension or benefits.

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Helping with day-to-day spending

If you want to gently keep an eye on someone’s day-to-day spending, you could:

  • help them to pay their bills on time
  • suggest that you make shopping trips together
  • Offer to read through bills and statements when they arrive
  • fill in our free Budget Planner together to work out how to better manage their finances.

If the person needing help is going to be away for a while – for example, to go into hospital – you can be given temporary power of attorney. This states that you’re allowed to manage their affairs for that period of time (but only as long as they still have mental capacity).

Help with paperwork and meetings

If the person you’re helping finds it hard to understand written information, you can go through any important documents with them. For example, information about bank accounts, benefits and tax.

Point out the important parts that they need to understand and explain unfamiliar terms and ideas.

Some people find filling in forms daunting. You can help by talking them through the questions on the form and writing in their answers, leaving them to just to add their signature.

Help with meetings

From time to time, the person might need to meet face-to-face with someone like a benefits adviser, financial adviser or solicitor.

These meetings might be less stressful if you can go along too.

You can also help by:

  • asking questions if you think something has been forgotten
  • making sure the person’s situation is clearly explained and understood
  • being on the alert for rogue firms that might take advantage of a vulnerable person
  • taking notes so that later on you can both review what was said before they make any decision
  • guiding decisions – making sure the person doesn’t make a decision too quickly before all the issues have been carefully considered.
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If they’re struggling with debts

If the person you want to help is struggling with debt, there are lots of free, confidential help and advice services available across the UK. 

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Helping them get help means they don’t have to struggle alone, and can start solving or preventing money problems such as:

  • running up debts – if they find it hard to budget and control their spending
  • living on less than they have to – if they don’t claim benefits they’re entitled to
  • hardship for a partner or other family members – if other people rely on the person needing help to run the household finances
  • unpaid bills – which could mean services like their phone being cut off or being threatened with being taken to court.

Giving more intensive help

It might be useful for you to become their attorney on a permanent basis if:

  • they have good and bad days, making it difficult for them to manage things consistently
  • you think they’re losing mental capacity
  • they have complicated financial affairs
  • they need to go into hospital for a while and won’t be able to manage.

That way, you can easily step in as and when help is needed.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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