Keeping Warm

Last Saturday the Daily Express warned of

Six inches of snow to hit Britain next week as Arctic blast sends temperatures plummeting

… which didn’t  happen. And the forecast for the next week is also fairly mild – so don’t panic:

rayleigh weather forecast

However the District Council website has had some stuff this week about keeping warm and saving money , which boils down to:

Avoid wasting energy
Simple things such as switching off an unused appliance, closing curtains to avoid heat loss through the windows, and turning off lights in unused rooms, will avoid lots of wasted energy and save you money.

‘Eco’ your day
Switch washing machines and dishwashers to their ‘eco’ setting and wait until they are full before using them, only boil as much water as you need, and use energy saving light bulbs to cut the cost of everyday activities without giving them up entirely.

Get financial help
Several schemes provide money toward winter bills:

  • Warm Home Discount: Some energy providers offer a discount of up to £140 to those on a low income. Contact your energy provider for more information.
  • Winter Fuel Payments: Those of pensionable age may be able to apply for a payment of between £100 and £300. Phone 08459 151515 for more information.
  • Cold Weather Payment: A payment of £25 per day may be available during very cold spells to people in receipt of certain benefits. Contact your Jobcentre Plus office for more information. Note : the phone number is 0345 604719





Financial Advice From The District Council

coinAre you getting Council Tax Support and worried about money?

From the District Council Website:

If you are getting Council Tax Support and are struggling to pay your Council Tax we have a dedicated officer, Laura Poole, who can offer help and advice. You can:

– call her on 01702 318089
– visit her at the Council Offices, South Street, Rochford between 8.30am-5pm Monday to Friday
– request a home visit if you find it difficult to get out

If you are worried about your financial health visit or call them on 0300 500 5000 between 8am-8pm. The Money Advice Service offer free, independent financial advice and can help with:
– managing your money better
– reviewing or reducing borrowing
– money saving tips
– Universal Credit and other benefits
– work and money
– bank accounts and credit and debit cards

Update: Flood Damage Help

From the District Council website:

Update: Flood damage help

To help residents affected by the recent severe weather, Rochford District Council will collect any flood damaged items free of charge. Please call our Customer Services team on 01702 318111 or email with your details.

We also have special arrangements in place to deal with Council Tax queries from people who have had to move out of their home to allow flood damage repairs to be done. Residents are advised to contact our Revenues and Benefits team on 01702 318016 to discuss their individual circumstances.

“… the world could be a much better place”

Southend Blogger Jack Monroe has a video in the Guardian today:

“Jack Monroe, who writes the blog A Girl Called Jack, discusses how she became a popular austerity cook and food blogger while living below the poverty line, and demonstrates how to cook one of her signature dishes: the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burger. A selection of recipes from A Girl Called Jack are to be published next year in a book of the same name”

This Weeks Friday Food : Baked trout in best tomato sauce, with lemon and herb rice. 33p.


Southend Blogger Jack Monroe writes:

…on finding a packet of trout in my local supermarket for 70 pence this evening, it was too good not to share.

You can substitute the trout in this recipe for white fish fillets: Sainsburys do a frozen bag of white fish for £1.75, for 520g, which would make the fish in this recipe 81p for a 240g portion, so only 2-3p more expensive per head than my bargain trout.

See the recipe here.

Jack Monroe On TV

We’ve linked before to Southend blogger and writer  Jack Monroe– especially on issues of poverty and how to feed yourself on ridiculously low amounts of money.

Things are looking up for Jack .  As the BBC reports:

  • Until two months ago, Jack Monroe was unemployed, and unable to claim all her benefits. She struggled to feed herself and her young son on a budget of £10 a week. Often she ate just a single meal a day.
  • She started a blog on how to eat cheaply. In February she became a trainee reporter on her local paper, The Southend Echo. She has just been offered an advance of £25,000 to produce a cookbook for Penguin.


And Jack was on BBC1 at 8:40 this morning , talking about eating on £1 per day – and will be on again at 9:40!

[Youtube added April 29th]


Are You Planning To Have A Baby And Your Partner Earns More Than 50K A Year? Here’s A Useful Tip

From Scottish Lib Dem Blogger Caron Lindsay on the Child Benefit changes:


…..The thing that worried me, though, was that many stay at home parents, usually mothers, are given a National Insurance credit which goes towards their state pension until their youngest child is 12. What would happen to them if they were no longer claiming child benefit? Would they still get the credits towards their State Pension, or would they get a nasty surprise in a few decades’ time?

I’ve spent some time on the phone to various government helplines this morning to find out. The HMRC helpline was very helpful but when I asked the question, the person I was speaking to actually had to go and look it up and actually said she wasn’t very sure and recommended that I call the Child Benefit people.She told me that if a claim had been made and the claimant decided not to receive the payments, then they would still get the credits. I then phoned the Child Benefit line and they confirmed this, with a lot less faffing. Now that I’ve had it from two Government sources, I’m prepared to believe it.
My only concern is that this is all very well if your children are already here and you’ve made the claim. If, however, you have a baby at any point from now and your partner is a high earner, you might think that you shouldn’t even bother claiming. This would be a mistake if you are not going to go back to work. You have to make the claim to get the credit towards your pension even if you don’t end up taking the money.
I hope that makes sense. It might not affect very many people, but it’s worth taking note.

Jack’s Revamp

Southend Blogger Jack Monroe has revamped her site – It’s worth a look.

Here’s an example:

I’m often quoted as saying I spend around £10 a week on my food shopping for me and Small Boy, which is often met with a mixture of disbelief and shock, and a quick roving eye over my thin but soft-around-the-edges figure. The latest example of this was when I set up my business account for Bread And Jam, and the bank manager wanted some insight into my spending habits. “£10 a WEEK?” he said. “HOW?”

“The Best Half-Hour I Have Spent On You-Tube”

There are some BIG misunderstandings about student loans. You only actually pay this loan back if you are earning enough money…. graduates only pay money back when they earning over £21,000 per year. And then they pay back 9% of whatever they earn above £21,000 per year. And this £21,000 level will be adjusted for inflation in future years.

After 30 years, even if you haven’t paid back a penny, the debt is wiped.

This video explains things and is described as the “best half-hour I have spent on you-tube”:

Meanwhile thanks to Mark Lydford for pointing out this version of Nick Clegg’s apology!

Proceeds are going to charity:

Bumps On the Roof Of Our Cars?

Nissan with bumps on roof.

If you drive on roads like the A13 you’ll find quite a few drivers are sticking to 50 mph and cruise control to save fuel.

Here’s another idea (no guarantees that it works!)

We found a new article on the Pacific Standard website that’s quiet intriguing.

It’s about a Californian deep-sea diver and inventor who’s looked at the tiny bumps on whales. He reckons that if you put the same type of bumps on car roofs you improve the aerodynamics and save on fuel:

The pods—spaced four inches apart and located 10 inches from the lip of the roof—reduced aerodynamic drag by 5 percent when a two-door VW Golf was driven at 65 miles per hour….

The pods come in loud flashy colors. Some can be permanently glued to the roof. A more expensive model attaches via magnets. Prices currently range from $60 to $100, but those, Evans said, will come down to reflect how much a driver might save in a couple of months.
Aside from the monetary relief, Evans said the pods offer drivers the opportunity do something about climate change.
“People don’t want to be told what to do; they want to do it themselves.”

The sellers of these bumps have a website here.

Does anybody fancy being a pioneer? Should County Highways invest in a set and see if they work?