If you are worried about debt. Do not panic:
- Do not ignore the problem. Debts are not just a finance issue. They affect all elements of your life
- The earlier you deal with them, the easier they are to deal with
- Do not borrow money to pay off your debts
Steps to take when you have debts:
- The first step is to make a list of all the people you owe money to
- Place each of these into a category of either being a priority debt or a non-priority debt
- Priority debts include things such as mortgage or rent arrears, council tax arrears or court fines. These are the most urgent debts because if you do not pay them, it could eventually lead to the loss of your goods, your home or being imprisoned
- Non-priority debts on the other hand include things such as overdrafts, loans, hire purchase, or credit cards
- Draw up your personal budget so that you know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. This will help you work out how much you might be able to offer creditors to clear your debts
- Contact the people you owe money to, explain your situation and make them an offer that is realistic and manageable. Do not give up trying to reach an agreement if they are difficult and make sure that you keep copies of all letters you receive or send
If you are facing debt:
The most important things to remember is there is no single ‘right answer’ to debt. There is only the best solution for your circumstances.
Whether you owe £1,000 or £50,000, whether you own your home or rent, and whether you are employed or out of work, all these things affect which solution is best for you.
Always get advice from an Independent Financial Adviser before signing a new loan agreement and make sure that the Financial Adviser is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Whatever you decide to do remember to keep making payments to priority debts such as mortgage, rent, utilities, Magistrates Court fines and Council Tax. The consequences of failing to keep up with these payments are much more severe than failing to maintain unsecured debt repayments.
Who to contact for further advice:
If you are a Housing Association tenant and in rent arrears, please contact your housing officer immediately to discuss your options.
Housing and Council Tax Benefit:
- Anglia Revenues Partnership (external link)
- Tel: 0845 842 6000
Housing and Council Tax Benefit are a national means tested welfare benefit. The purpose of the Housing Benefit scheme is to help people who have a low-income pay their rent. The Council Tax Benefit scheme provides help with Council Tax charges you may find that you are eligible for these benefits. You can get a benefits estimate visiting the benefits' section of their website.
Community Advice Service
The Community Advice Service is a free support and advice service providing unbiased confidential advice to members of the public in the East Cambridgeshire District, covering advice and support for problems with housing, employment issues, money and debt advice and much more.
- Shelter (external link)
- Tel: 0808 800 4444
Free housing advice helpline.
- Jobcentre Plus (external link)
- Ely Jobcentre Branch Tel: 01353 605426
- Newmarket Jobcentre Branch Tel: 0345 604 3719
The Service provides practical support and financial advice about benefits, tax credits, training, work and looking for a job.
National Debt Line
- National Debt line (external link)
- Tel: 0808 808 4000
The line is available on Monday to Friday 9:00am to 9:00pm. Saturday 9:30am to 1:00pm.
This service offers practical advice on dealing with debt including self-help packs, sample letters to creditors and personal budget sheets.
Civil legal advice line
- Civil legal advice (external link)
- Tel: 0845 345 4345
Open from 9:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am to 12.30pm Saturday. Outside these hours, you can leave a message and they will call you back the next working day.
You may get legal aid if your home is at risk. They offer advice to people in debt who are on a low income or on benefits. Help is also available on a number of other topics including housing, family, welfare benefits (Upper Tribunal appeals and above), discrimination and education.
You may be entitled to a free half an hour over the phone or appointed via an agreed list of solicitors.
The Money Advice Service
You can contact them from Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 8:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm.
Talk About Debt
Is a free, confidential debt charity online service which offers practical advice to make sure that you receive the right debt advice for your personal circumstances. Talk About Debt only works with debt companies that do not charge you for their services. You can start to work with them by visiting their website and going to the Get in Touch (external link) page.
Debt Advice Foundation
- Debt Advice Foundation (external link)
- Tel: 0800 043 40 50
Their helpline is open Monday to Friday 8:00am to 8:00pm and Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Established in 2002, this registered charity offers free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about loans, credit and debt. The services they offer include one-to-one advice and education initiatives such as helping you:
- reduce monthly repayments to a realistic and affordable level
- stop creditors taking enforcement action against you
- protect important assets such as your home
- help you regain control of your finances
- they will recommend the debt solution that is right for your situation including Bankruptcy, Debt Relief Orders, Free Debt Management Plans, IVAs, Trust Deeds, LILAs, Debt Arrangement Scheme, Administration Orders and Debt Consolidation
StepChange Debt Charity
- StepChange Debt Charity (external link)
- Tel: 0800 138 1111
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday, 8:00 am to 4:00pm.
StepChange Debt Charity is a registered charity offering free, confidential advice and support to anyone who is worried about debt.
There is also an online Debt Remedy tool: This asks you a series of questions about your household, income and expenditure and then provides you with a Debt Remedy tailored to your personal circumstances.
Financial Ombudsman Service
- Financial Ombudsman Service (external link)
- Telephone 0300 123 9123 or 0800 023 4567
- Email: email@example.com
If you have a complaint that you cannot resolve with your lender, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help.
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (external link)
- Tel: 0800 111 6768
- Email: Consumer.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Financial Conduct Authority regulate the financial services industry in the UK. Their role is to promote healthy competition between financial services providers. They have investigative and enforcement powers that they use to protect and regulate the financial services industry.
- Advice UK (external link)
- Tel: 0300 777 0107
This service offers debt advice to the public, some providing specialist advice for minority ethnic and refugee communities and people with disabilities.
- Payplan (external link)
- Tel: 0800 716 239
Payplan is an independent company offering free debt advice and solutions to clients, such as debt management plans (DMPs) with online payment tracking and individual voluntary arrangements.
They will look at your financial situation and help you decide the best option to sort out your debts. If a repayment option is appropriate, they can help you approach your creditors with a repayment plan and distribute repayments on your behalf until the debts are repaid.
Christians Against Poverty
Christians Against Poverty is a Christian charitable national organisation specialising in debt counselling for people in financial difficulty, including those in need of bankruptcy or insolvency.
We want to listen we want to help:
- Tel: 01353 665555
- Email: email@example.com
- Emergency out of hours telephone 0771 097 8900