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Coping with the cost of living in Dorset

In recent months, residents and businesses across Dorset have seen prices of supplies, energy, food and more increase.  

Ways you can make the most of your current employment, money and opportunities

Your current employment – are you making the most of it?

If you have a job, there are still ways you can make the most of it and ensure you are taking home a fair wage for your work…

Always check your payslips – be sure you are being paid the wage agreed with your employer, and all hours are accounted for. Check you are also paying the right tax rates. If you work paid overtime, ensure you are paid at the appropriate rate for these hours. Pay advice should be provided by your employer. Checking could mean you spot a clerical error which could mean you are owed money from your employer or the UK Government. If you would like support with checking you are within your rights, get in touch with the local Citizen’s Advice.

If you have been working in your role for a while, think about if you could ask for a promotion or payrise. If you feel it is appropriate, and there is scope within your role to change your pay to reflect your responsibilities, talk to your manager about it. If you have recently completed any training or learning opportunities these could help support your case.

Ask your employer or Citizen’s Advice for any additional support you may qualify for. For example, if you wear uniform with a logo on, you could be eligible for tax relief – either on the amount you’ve spent on the uniform or an agreed flat rate deduction. Find out more about uniform tax here. Other tax relief options are available for Working from home, vehicles you use for work, travel and any equipment you buy for work. Find out about all of them here.  

If you would like support into looking how you can progress your career, book a free careers appointment with the National Careers Service through our website today. Click here to book your free, online appointment.  

Unemployment – are you maximising your opportunities?

If you’re not currently employed, there are lots of resources to support you… 

Adult education opportunities exist across Dorset to support you not just in your job search, but also your wellbeing. At Skills & Learning, we have finance procedures and funding to help you… 

  • If you claim any income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Attendance Allowance, and more, you could claim at least 50% off any Learning for Leisure course. These take place to help you gain new skills and confidence in subjects from Arts & Crafts to Languages. View all free and discounted courses here.  
  • Free employability and careers support and courses for all, including guidance appointments and bespoke programmes. Find out more here. 

Making your money go further 

There are lots of ways you can work with your shopping habits and techniques to make your money go further. Some include… 

  • Using loyalty cards and points systems in shops – next time you’re shopping somewhere, ask if they have a loyalty system. Using this, often in the form of a card with stamps, you can claim discount or free goods just for shopping as normal. These systems are great to use if you shop at the same places frequently, for example your favourite supermarket.  
  • Try using cashback sites online to help claim money off purchases. Sites such as Topcashback.co.uk and Quidco.com can help you save with huge retailers such as Amazon, Wilko, eBay, JustEat and much more. Next time you make a purchase, check cashback sites to see if you could claim a % of the total back for free!  
  • Think about your habits and what you spend money on. Consider your subscriptions – do you use them all? Do you use them regularly enough to warrant the cost? Consider other free services you could use – for example, you could swap your Netflix or Audible with free resources at the library, or swap your gym membership for home/park exercise.  
  • When planning days out, you can use the internet to help you save money. Before planning or booking, consider if there may be a voucher code, if it’s cheaper to book in advance, cheaper to book online, or if you can find out more about the prices within an attraction, for example the cost of lunch. The internet can be very helpful in finding different prices – if you would like support in how to use price comparison websites, explore our free Digital Hub drop in sessions

How can education help me save money?

There are many ways adult education can benefit you and help you save money. Discover what you could study for free. Call us on 01202 123444 or email [email protected] to discover what you could study with the help of funding. There are many points which could mean you qualify to study for a discounted fee or even free – including your current qualifications, employment and financial situation. Read our finance page to find out more. 

You could upskill yourself to help you in applying for higher paid jobs. You can use adult education to help you go for higher-paid roles – for example, you could study a free online distance learning course in management to help you apply for managerial roles. You could also gain higher qualifications in your specialism – for example, you could gain a level 4 counselling qualification to help you earn more as a Counsellor/therapist. 

If you are considering starting a business in addition to your main job, explore our Learning for Leisure courses. You could study a course in jewellery making, painting, or photography – all of which have the potential to be a source of income. An investment into your skills like this could give you many benefits in potential business, as well as mental health and wellbeing improvements. All Learning for Leisure courses could be discounted by at least 50% with our concessionary discount. Explore leisure courses here.  

If your mental health has been affected by the cost of living crisis, we can help. Our LivingWell courses are designed to help with low mood and stress. These courses make a great opportunity to escape ‘day to day’ life and gain new skills in a positive, safe environment with support from a tutor and other fellow adult learners looking to achieve the same thing. These courses are all free. Explore LivingWell courses here. 

Multiply is an exciting new project providing adults aged over 19 with FREE maths lessons and drop ins. Better numeracy skills can help you to budget, manage money, plan finances in the future, gain new employment opportunities and more. Check out our Multiply page for more and keep an eye on our courses to enrol when these are announced late 2022.  

If you are considering starting a business in addition to your main job, explore our Learning for Leisure courses. You could study a course in jewellery making, painting, or photography – all of which have the potential to be a source of income. An investment into your skills like this could give you many benefits in potential business, as well as mental health and wellbeing improvements. All Learning for Leisure courses could be discounted by at least 50% with our concessionary discount. Explore leisure courses here.  

If your mental health has been affected by the cost of living crisis, we can help. Our LivingWell courses are designed to help with low mood and stress. These courses make a great opportunity to escape ‘day to day’ life and gain new skills in a positive, safe environment with support from a tutor and other fellow adult learners looking to achieve the same thing. These courses are all free. Explore LivingWell courses here. 

Multiply is an exciting new project providing adults aged over 19 with FREE maths lessons and drop ins. Better numeracy skills can help you to budget, manage money, plan finances in the future, gain new employment opportunities and more. Check out our Multiply page for more and keep an eye on our courses to enrol when these are announced late 2022.  

Local Food Dorset Resources and Support

Free food resources and support in BCP and Dorset – this list below is venues open to anyone. If you have foodbank vouchers, check The Trussell Trust website to find a foodbank near you. 

BCP 

Rossmore Community Fridge – Herbert Avenue, Poole 

Boscombe Community Fridge – Hawkwood Road, Bournemouth  

Canford Heath Community Centre Fridge – Mitchell Road, Canford Heath 

Townsend Community Fridge – Jewell Road, Christchurch 

For more resources in BCP, take a look at the Access to Food Map here.  

Dorset

Bridport Community Fridge – East Street, Bridport 

Bridport Food Bank – South Street, Bridport

Open Fridge – Christy’s Lane, Shaftesbury 

Blandford Community Fridge – Mildown Road, Blandford 

Ringwood Community Fridge – Cloughs Road, Ringwood 

Swanage Community Pantry – High Street, Swanage 

Dorchester Community Fridge – CasterFridge – Trinity Street, Dorchester 

Find more support and information about access to food in Dorset on the Dorset Council website here

Other helpful links 

  •  The National Debt Helpline – can give support with debt and arrears and offer next step advice, support and offer solutions for dealing with your debt. 
  • Citizens Advice  – can help with legal advice, support with debts, housing and other problems you may face.  
  • Faith Works – can help find solutions around food, debt, homelessness and social isolation 
  • If you are in arrears or struggling to pay your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off your debts. Contact your energy supplier for more information. 
  • Glass-pool – can help provide one-off grants to individuals, couples and families for everyday items to help them cope when things get difficult, they can support you in getting necessary furniture or appliances for your home.  
  • Step Change – offering help with debt as well as emergency help with money and food and hardship grants.  
  • BCP Together is a webpage and app that is a directory of organisations that can help with anything to do with employability/work and wellbeing including money stress. This is for BCP Council residents only.