As the new year gets underway, the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) is reminding railway staff that the charity is here to support anyone in rail who may be facing financial difficulty. RBF offers support through preventative measures such as its online tools and dedicated financial advice, as well as its grants programmes for those most in need.

The start of a new year can be a difficult time for many, as the effects of Christmas spending and borrowing can take a toll on finances. Coupled with the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK, it takes the average person 4 months to get their finances back into shape after the festive season. For many, this Christmas debt can become unmanageable and spiral out of control.

In 2024, RBF is urging people in rail to take a in depth look at their financial situation and take steps to improve their financial wellbeing. The charity is placing emphasis on early intervention, by resolving financial issues before they get out of hand. RBF often deals with serious cases such as eviction notices or bankruptcy; many of which could have been avoided if the individual had sought help earlier.

A quick and easy way to improve financial resilience is through visiting the RBF website. The charity has a range of tools available to support current and retired workers with financial wellbeing. Its Financial Health Assistant provides a free and quick financial health check, available to all railway people and their dependents. Its digital tools from MoneyHelper and PayPlan provide assistance with budgeting, savings, universal credit payments and other financial situations. These tools are accessible 24 hours a day, free and quick to use.

For those in more complicated situations or in need of debt advice, the charity can also help. Through its partnership with Citizens Advice, RBF can provide free and confidential, general and specialist debt advice. The service is prioritised for railway people and offered over the phone or email with an experienced debt advisor. The advisors will work with you to come up with action plans, negotiate with third parties, and provide a benefit check and budgeting advice with every referral. Furthermore, RBF’s trained caseworkers are able to offer advice and signposting for a range of financial issues, including benefits, pensions and utility bills. The charity encourages people to reach out before they are in a last resort situation.

Jo Kaye, RBF CEO, commented:

“While debt support has previously been a significant part of our support, it was unprecedented in 2023, particularly for rent and mortgage payments. The debt cases are more complex as the cost-of-living crisis has plunged people into unsustainable financial situations. For many of our beneficiaries, it only takes one unforeseen payment for financial difficulties to get out of hand. Please don’t ignore any potential problems; they won’t go away, reach out for help before they get out of hand.”