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Debt and Money Management

DON’T PUT YOUR HOME, OR HEALTH, AT RISK

Managing your money to avoid debt and financial anxiety is important. Poor financial health leads to poor physical and mental health too particularly if you:

  • Don’t have enough money
  • Can’t pay your bills
  • Have debts which you can't repay
  • Barely have enough money to buy what you need
  • Stop opening letters because you're afraid of what’s in them!

If you are struggling or find yourself worrying about meeting your financial commitments, there is help.

  • First, make a list of all your creditors, your debt balances, how much you should, and could, repay
  • Don't be afraid to contact your creditors to explain your situation and to ask for their help. Most will put a revised repayment plan in place for you
  • Deal with your priority debts first. For example, if you are behind with your rent, mortgage, utility bills, or loan repayments
  • Get specialist help if you are unable to repay your debts.

Types of Debt

Priority debts: Non-payment of a priority debt may lead to imprisonment, the loss of your home or essential services.
You should always manage your priority debts before your non-priority debts.

Non-priority debts: The consequences for failing to repay a non-priority debt are far less serious. You may have to pay more credit charges, get a poor credit rating, county court money judgement or become bankrupt.

Debt Category Potential Consequences
Rent arrears Priority Eviction, bankruptcy, court fines, bailiffs, or a prison sentence for wilful non-payment
Fine default Priority Extra costs, bailiffs, possible prison sentence
Gas/electricity arrears Priority Disconnection
Maintenance (child support) arrears Priority Deductions from wages or a prison sentence for wilful non-payment
Income tax arrears Priority Fine, county court judgement, and ultimately bankruptcy or a prison sentence for wilful non-payment
Water arrears Non-priority Additional charges, deductions from wages or benefits, a poor credit rating, county court judgement
Credit cards Non-priority Additional charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy
Hire purchase arrears Non-priority Repossession of item, added charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy
Telephone arrears Non-priority Disconnection, added charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy
Personal debts to family and friends Non-priority Breakdown in relationships with your family and friends
Personal loans Non-priority Additional charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy
Charge cards Non-priority Additional charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy
Catalogues Non-priority Additional charges, negative credit rating, county court judgement, bankruptcy

Get specialist help if you have borrowed money from a loan shark and have difficulty making your repayments. To report a loan shark visit the UK Government website.

  • National Debtline on 0808 808 4000
    (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm)
  • StepChange Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111
    (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm)
  • The Debt Advice Foundation on 0800 043 4050
    (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm)
  • Community Money Advice - visit their website here
  • Citizens advice Bureau on 03444 111 444
  • Money Advice Service - visit their website here or call 0800 138 7777
    (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 9am to 1pm. Sunday and Bank Holidays, closed)