Many people get into debt for all sorts of reasons. There are many ways to deal with your debts with many organisations that can help you cope if you are struggling. Remember
- Don't ignore the debt. If your creditors are aware you are having difficulty paying, then they may be willing to arrange for you to repay in affordable stages. Fill out a budget sheet. Work out what you need to live on so you know how much you can afford when making offers to repay your debts. You can use the budget sheet to help you do this or ask your housing officer for help.
- Prioritise your debt. If you owe money to more than one person or organisation you should make offers for the most important debts first. If you can't pay your rent you may lose your home so this should be your first priority.
- Remember you're not alone. Your housing officer and other agencies can offer advice and help.
Which debts should I prioritise?
The table below shows you the debts you should prioritise and the consequences of not paying.
|Debt||Possible action against you|
|Rent||Eviction from your home|
|Gas / electricity / telephone||Supply cut off / pre-payment meter fitted|
|Council tax||Seizure of personal goods / deduction from wages or benefits / imprisonment|
|TV licence||Court fine / seizure of personal goods / imprisonment|
|Magistrates' court fines||Seizure of personal goods / deduction from wages or benefits / imprisonment|
|Child support payments||Seizure of goods / deduction from wages or benefits / imprisonment / driving licence taken away|
|Income tax, National Insurance, VAT arrears||Seizure of personal goods / bankruptcy|
The debts in the table above are the most important due to the consequence of non-payment. Other debts such as credit cards and loans should be treated as a lower priority although you must contact the lenders so they are aware of the difficulty you are having. Now you know which debts you need to pay first, you can now plan your budget.
More information is in our Dealing with Debt leaflet. Hard copies are available from your estate office.
Shelter also provides assistance to those people who may be worrying about housing related debt. Find out more information here.
Do you need help to plan your budget?
If you need help with debt or budgeting we can refer you for specialist advice. Please ask your housing officer to refer you.
There are also many organisations which offer free and independent advice such as Citizens Advice, Shelter, National Debtline and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service. These advisers can help assess your situation and work out the best course of action for you.
Independent advisors also work from some of our local estate offices so you housing officer can make an appointment for you to see an independent adviser.