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Money information and advice

British Currency

The currency in the UK is pounds sterling (£/GBP). There are 100 pence (p) to the pound (£). There are £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes.

Coins come in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.

Opening a bank account

There are lots of different ways you can store your money, including:

  • high street banks,
  • building societies,
  • post office accounts,
  • credit unions
  • and digital only banks.

You also need to decide which type of account you want:

  • current account
  • joint account
  • student/graduate account
  • savings account
  • business account, etc.

Applying for an account

You can apply to open an account by filling out a form either at the bank, building society, post office or credit union. Or you can usually apply online.

You will need:

  • proof of ID - for example a photo ID card or your passport
  • proof of address - gas or electricity bill

Mobile banks usually ask for:

  • Proof of ID
  • and a video

Using a cash machine

Cash machines are also known as ATMs. 

Things to remember when using a cash machine:

  • Not all of them are free so check before taking money out.
  • If the lights on the cash machine are not working, do not use it.
  • Do not share your PIN number
  • keep your receipts

The British tax system

Is controlled by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It is complicated and depends on your status (employed, self employed etc.)

Everyone who is working has to pay income tax and National Insurance (NI).

The tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April.

Benefits system

Benefits is payment made by government to help people who do not work or earn little money. There are also benefits for carers, people with disabilities and people who are bereaved. There are range of different payments that fall under this including:

Help applying for benefits

Use the benefits calculator to find out what you could get.

You can get help and support apply for benefits.

The Job centre plus also offers help, support and information about benefits.

Help with childcare costs

Depending on your family situation you can get help with the cost of childcare.

All 3 and 4 years olds in Tower Hamlets get 15 hours of free childcare, 

You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare for your 3 to 4 year old child.

See more information about childcare

Pensions

A pension is an amount of money you get once you have stopped working. There are 3 main types of pension: 

  • state pension,
  • workplace pension
  • and private pension

Check with your employer or see our information on Pensions.

Debt

There's lots of free information and advice for people who want to get out of debt.

Free advice services

if you have problems with:

  • welfare benefits,
  • debt,
  • housing,
  • Legal aid
  • and other matters to anyone who lives works or studies in Tower Hamlets.

The Tower Hamlets Community Advice Network (THCAN) can help.

There are also a number of voluntary organisations that provide free advice services.

Turn2us can help you get access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.

Residents' support scheme

The Residents' Support Scheme will help with short term living costs such as:

  • credit food and gas/electric prepayment metres,
  • and in some circumstances with white goods and furniture.

Cash will not usually be awarded, but a pay point voucher can be supplied to the applicant where necessary.

Foodbanks and free meals

If you aren't able to afford food and other necessities there are foodbanks and organisations that give out free meals.

Foodbanks

Free meals

The homeless 

Other useful resources