Priority with debts is key says Bedford and District Citizens’ Advice Bureau

editorial image

QUESTION: I’ve been struggling with my finances for a while, and now it’s got to the point where I can’t afford bills like council tax or my mortgage. I’m worried that if I can’t find a solution soon, I might have to sell my home.

What can I do?

ANSWER: Firstly, the earlier you get help with debt problems the easier it is to get them sorted. Trying to carry on as if everything is normal can make things worse, as debts can pile up quickly.

Letting your creditors, like your mortgage company or local council, know if you will be unable to pay them is key. Creditors should consider reasonable repayment plans and may be able to offer you more time to pay.

It is important that you prioritise paying certain debts, such as the rent, mortgage or energy bills, first to keep a roof over your head and the heating on.

Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get support through benefits, so it is worth checking this with the Department for Work and Pensions.

If you are unable to pay your council tax debt the local authority may agree to let you pay a reduced payment over a longer period, but you will have to keep paying your ongoing bill going forward.

Drawing up a proper budget of your expenses can help identify areas you can cut down on.

Before you turn to a loan to cover costs, think carefully and find out what this means for any future repayments and interest that will be due on the loan.

Citizens Advice offer free, confidential and independent advice, can help work out costs and negotiate with your creditors, and may be able to help you get debt-free by looking at appropriate options available for you.