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When dealing with the money you owe, it’s helpful to work out who owe and split your debt into two categories, priority debt and secondary debt.

Priority debt is the money that is owed because you are behind with payment of bills for some essential services. These debts may include rent debt, gas, electricity, water bills and council tax bills. These should be dealt with as a priority because they carry the most severe consequences if you do not pay.

Secondary debt is the money that is owed because it was borrowed as a loan such as a pay-day loan, as a bank overdraft, purchases with a credit card or from catalogues. Although important, these debts have less severe consequences for non-payment so should be dealt with after priority debt.

Six things to remember when dealing with debt:

  • Keep in contact with the people you owe money
  • Don’t ignore letters or phone calls
  • Don’t be pressured into making offers of payment that you can’t afford
  • Don’t borrow more money without thinking about it very carefully – you may be adding to your debts 
  • Don’t wait for court action, the costs will be added to the amount that you owe
  • Remember there is free debt advice available - You do not have to pay for debt advice.

Plan your budget

It’s important to know how much you have to live on. Be realistic about your bills. For example, when you look at your gas or electricity bills, try to average a whole year so that you cover low use (summer) and high use (winter) months. Try to use real figures taken from actual bills rather than estimates.

Advice from other organisations

We understand that debt can be a difficult subject to talk about. You may want to get independent advice from other organisations such as

Citizens Advice Bureau

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