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AgeUKIG57: Getting Help with Debt

Getting Help with Debt
Source: Age UK

FS69 Water Advice

Source: Age UK

FS75 Dealing with debt

Source: Age UK

IG57 Getting Help with Debt

Source: Age UK
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Lots of people are in debt these days for all sorts of reasons. Don’t ignore the problem, it won’t go away and the longer you leave it the worse it will get. Don’t borrow money to pay off your debt without thinking about it carefully, always get advice first, if you own your home this kind of borrowing could put it at risk. Follow these steps and they will help you work out your personal budget, prioritise your debts and tackle the problem.
Step 1 – Working out your income. Work out all the money you have coming in so you know just how much you have to spend in total. Look at ways to increase your income, check you are receiving all the benefits you may be entitled to, are you on the right tax code? are you covered by payment protection insurance on any of your loans? or are there other ways of increasing your income? for example letting a spare room out to a lodger (this may affect your benefits or your tax position, please check first).
Step 2 – Work out your outgoings. Work out all your regular outgoings (other than your debts). Look at ways to reduce your outgoings, are you paying bills that no longer apply, for example insurance policies for equipment you no longer own or a TV and phone package that no longer meets your needs. Are you making regular payments to charities or social groups that you can no longer afford? Be careful, if you under estimate your outgoings you may find it difficult to stick to a long-term repayment plan. This could lead to greater difficulties.

Step 3 – Work out the money left over. If you take your outgoings away from your income you will be left with how much money you can offer your creditors.

Step 4 – Which debts to pay first – Your “Priority” debts. Some debts are more important than others. The law gives different creditors different ways of getting their money back. If you don’t act quickly, some creditors could take away your home, cut off your gas or electricity supply, send the bailiffs to take furniture from your home or ask the courts to send you to prison. One way to decide if a debt is a priority is to think about the affect not paying would have on you, for example if you don’t pay your telephone bill you will be cut off, this may not have a big affect on your life style, but if you are housebound and it is your only way to contact help and/or support in an emergency, it would be a priority (Contact National Debtline for more details on priority debts). Contact each of the priority creditors explain your difficulties and make them a realistic offer, send them a copy of your personal budget.

Step 5 – How much is left over. After dealing with your priority debts any money left over can be offered to your non-priority or credit debts, this includes banks, catalogues, credit-cards etc.

Step 6 – How to deal with credit debts.
Work out payments on a ‘pro-rata’ basis; remember to ask them to freeze the interest on your accounts. If there is nothing left, still write to them showing your personal budget to back this up and ask them to hold action until your circumstances improves; you may be able to offer a token payment of £1 per month.
If you are having difficulties dealing with debt problems, you should seek specialist advice. Before seeing an advisor about money issues, it is useful to make a complete list of your debts and work out your income and expenditure as detailed above in steps 1 and 2.