Are you struggling to pay your rent or your mortgage? Do you have other debts or loans which are difficult to repay?
Follow these steps to tackle your debt problems:
- don’t put it off – deal with it now!
- get professional help as soon as you can (for example at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau), or a free debt advice agency.
- prioritise which debts are the most important (keeping your home and those where legal action could be taken against you)
- tell the people you owe money to that you are having difficulties – they may be able to help
- make realistic repayment arrangements that you can afford, and stick to them!
- don’t accept bigger loans to pay off other debts without getting professional advice
- visit the government’s Money Advice website for free, unbiased independent advice.
- for national advice on Money, tax, benefits, pensions and debt - DIRECTGOV advice
- check the DWP advice for help with paying your Mortgage Interest: Support for Mortgage Interest Factsheet.pdf [pdf] 515KB
If you’re on a low income, or having financial problems, check if you qualify for any benefits. You don’t have to be out of work to claim benefits and you could qualify for more than one. Even if you already receive Housing Benefit, if it doesn’t cover your rent you may be able to get some extra money - called discretionary housing payment. The Council might need more information to deal with your claim. Do seek advice from the Council or an independent adviser who may be able to assist you with making a claim; incomplete paperwork will hold up your claims. Tell the Housing Department what is going on and keep any correspondence.
The top priority payments include
- rent / mortgage
- Council Tax
- any court orders, money judgements or fines
- TV licence
- gas & electricity
- water & sewage
- secured loans
Priority debts are ones where serious action can be taken against you if you don’t pay what you owe. Your home is your first priority.
Lower priority payments include
- hire purchase
- unsecured loans
- mail order
- car finance
- phone, mobile, broadband, satellite or cable TV
Low priority debts can be reduced by spreading them over longer terms or deferring payment. When money becomes tight, it pays to look at priorities
Everyone will be asking you to repay them, but it is essential that you keep your home and avoid serious legal action for debts which might include a custodial sentence. Lower priority debts can be negotiated or in some cases might be written off. A debt counsellor or money adviser will be able to help you with these negotiations.
For more advice contact Citizens Advice
Phone 03444 771 171
Phone 0800 328 0006
Pay your rent first
If you can’t pay your rent, you have missed rent payments or you are worried your payments are not being made, sort things out as soon as you can. Even if you have other debts, paying your rent should always be your top priority!
It is best to talk early. This will help prevent your debts from building up. It is all too easy to bury your head in the sand but the problem won’t go away unless you face it and deal with it.
If you are having problems paying your rent on your council home, contact our rent arrears team.
We can help you to prepare a simple weekly budget. We have a simple Personal Budget [pdf] 127KB that you can download and complete. Please contact us and we will try to help you agree on a reasonable repayment plan for your rent.
Beware of loan sharks
Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who often charge very high interest rates - check if a company is licensed and how to report one that isn't.
If you spot a loan shark, or have borrowed money from one, you can report them in confidence.
Phone 0300 555 2222 Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm
Text LOAN SHARK and the lender's details to 60003
You can check to see what companies have a licence by contacting the Consumer Credit Register
Phone 020 7211 8608 Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4:00pm
Other places where you can get help or advice
West Sussex Credit Union
For advice on savings and low cost loans contact West Sussex Credit Union
129 Montague Street
Phone 01903 237221 or 01903 210172
The Citizens Advice Bureau
Offers debt counselling, as well as advice on other benefits that may be available to you
Bognor Regis Town Hall
14-16 Anchor Springs
The Village Information Centre
1B Churchill Court
The National Debtline
Offers expert advice via the telephone and e-mail, enabling clients to deal with their debts in an informed and proactive way.
Phone 0808 808 4000
Offers advice on reducing rent arrears, you can e-mail them, go on-line or telephone them for advice, information and advocacy on any housing problem including homelessness.
Phone 0808 800 4444
Step Change Debt Charity
Offers free debt advice
Phone 0800 138 1111
Gives free advice on benefits and financial concerns for the over 50s
Phone 0800 169 6565
Financial Services Authority
Free government money advice service
Phone 0300 500 5000