Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
We've put together some tips on working through your debts and
what your rights are when dealing with creditors.
If you feel overwhelmed by debt, it is a good idea to get expert
advice on sorting it out.
Our freephone helpline can provide
details of both national and local debt advice services. Depending
on where you live, we may also be able to put you in touch with a
specialist debt counselling service for families with disabled
Remember you do not need to pay for debt advice. This can help
you reduce the amount you are paying out each month.
There is a standard process for starting to sort out your debts.
You will be able to get free confidential advice to help you
through this process.
It's really important not to ignore your debts. Start by making
a list of all your debts and your creditors - the people you owe
money to. Check whether you owe the money and have to pay the
You will need to work out your income and expenditure - how much
money you have coming in and how much you spend. Check if you can
increase your income and cut your spending.
When you've made a list of your income and expenditure, you'll
see how much money you have left to offer your creditors. You then
need to identify your priority and non-priority debts to make
realistic arrangements to pay.
Some debts are more serious than others because of the
consequences if you don't pay them. Generally priority debts are
more serious than non-priority debts. For example, mortgage arrears
are a priority debt because you could lose your home.
You should not ignore any of your creditors, but when dealing
with your debts make arrangements for your priority debts first.
Examples of other priority debts include rent, council tax and TV
licence payments. Examples of non-priority debts include credit
card debts, bank overdrafts, catalogue debts and store cards.
Think about your personal situation too. For example, payments
for a car are not considered priority debts. However, if you rely
on it because you have a disabled child then you might want to
treat it as a priority.
If you can't receive credit from a bank or credit card company,
you may be tempted to try and borrow money by other means. We know
that many families borrow money just to get by, sometimes using
loan sharks or quick cash schemes. Be aware that loans that are
easy to acquire can be expensive to repay.
If you're thinking of borrowing money to clear other debts, take
free debt advice beforehand. There are many different types of
loan, and it is important to avoid loans you cannot afford to
repay. Debt advice can help you make arrangements to avoid getting
into more debt.
I applied for a credit card and have been turned down
but don't know why.
This may be because you have a low credit rating. To find out if
this is the problem, ask the lender if they used a credit reference
agency to decide whether to give you credit. You can ask for the
credit reference agency's details and write to them to ask for a
copy of your file. Alternatively, go to the credit reference
agency's website and ask to see the report online. There is usually
a charge for this information, but it is normally a small
Look for incorrect information, and ask the agency to correct or
remove it if this is the case.
My creditors think I should use my child's Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) to pay off my credit card debts. I spend it all on extras
for my child.
Remember that benefits such as DLA are intended to cover your
child's extra care and mobility needs.
When you work out your income and spending, including an amount
for disability-related expenditure that's equivalent to your
Make sure you list all the extra costs you have because of your
child's disability. This should help show your creditors that your
child's DLA is not spare money to clear debts.
I've had trouble paying my rent and now I've got into
arrears. Is it true that money can be deducted from by benefits to
pay off my arrears?
Yes, you can have a fixed amount deducted from certain benefits
and paid to a landlord to help cover the arrears. You can ask the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to see if this can be
arranged. This can be done for other arrears too, for example, fuel
arrears. Contact our freephone helpline to find out more about
If you have rent arrears, check your entitlement to housing
benefit. If this doesn't cover your whole rent and you can't afford
the difference, you might be able to get discretionary housing
payments from your council. These are extra payments to help you
pay your rent. (Link to bedroom tax page, section on DHPs).
I feel that I am being harassed by my creditors. They
keep calling me very late in the evening. I've asked them to stop
phoning me late at night.
If you owe money, then creditors are entitled to make reasonable
demands for repayment. However, there are certain things creditors
should not do, including phoning you at unreasonable
The Office of Fair Trading has produced guidance that describes
practices it considers unfair. It also has a leaflet that
gives further advice.