DO YOU worry about money? If you do, you are not alone. Many people worry about managing debts, paying the rent or mortgage or managing other bills.

Money worries can be extremely stressful and can impact on health. At the council we are working hard to try to help people who have financial problems.

But we can’t do this alone. It is down to each one of us to look at the conditions of our own finances and to help and support our family, friends and those around us. To help people with council tax, we are texting and telephoning as many people as possible who are having problems paying in order to avoid taking formal enforcement action. This has helped to reduce the number of people taken to court for non-payment of council tax from more than14,000 to 8,600.

It’s still too high and I strongly urge anyone who is struggling to make payments to contact the council call centre on 0345 3022316 to see what we can do to help. You can find more information on the council’s website at

We are also working with our local credit union to encourage people to make savings and access affordable credit.

When borrowing money it is really important to carefully check rates of interest and I would encourage you to consider credit unions as an option.

I am sorry to say that unscrupulous lenders are operating in Swindon and anyone who is aware of loan sharks should report them by contacting the Illegal Money Lending Team by email ing, or calling 0300 555 2222 or texting 07860 022 116.

By continuing to work more closely with our partners in the voluntary sector we are helping more people. Recently we were able to help a couple who had both rent and council tax arrears.

There had been some confusion about their entitlement to benefits and by going through everything it was discovered that they were entitled to help that they needed, which included a reduction in their council tax. Also by looking into their energy and water bills, additional opportunities for savings were identified. By helping them they were able to clear their arrears within three months and also achieve an additional income of more than £100 a month.

I invite everyone to review their financial situation and if you are worried about money to take steps to get things under control.

If you need help, ask for it. If you are aware of family or friends who are worried about money encourage them to ask for help too. Across Swindon there are many people who are ready and able to help.