In July of this year a Treasury Committee published an important report on Household Finances: income, saving and debt. Citizens Advice believes that HM Treasury should act on the recommendations in the MP’s report by measuring and reporting on household bill debt annually. Citizens Advice has estimated that UK households owe £18.9 billion to essential service providers and government. This includes tax credit overpayments of almost £7.5 billion, £2.84 billion owed in council tax to local authorities and £2.20 billion owed to water companies.
These creditors cannot withdraw services as a sanction against people not paying their bills – water companies cannot turn off the water supply and councils cannot stop collecting refuse, for example. Since 2014 when reforms were brought in to protect people from unfair practices by bailiffs, Citizens Advice has seen a 25% rise in bailiff related issues. So, government must also improve the way it collects money owed it is owed because these issues are causing real harm to real people.
If you are struggling with paying off debt and you find your situation is getting worse, the first thing to do is recognise there is a problem and not ignore it. Leaving letters from lenders unopened because you might not like what they may say is not an option. You can get free help with dealing with your debt from a number of sources – including your local Citizens Advice. Remember, there are solutions available for dealing with debt. However if you’ve received court papers, you’re about to be evicted or you’re expecting bailiffs contact Citizens Advice Waverley immediately.
If there is no emergency, there are some things you might want to do for yourself. The first thing to do is to work out how much you owe. Gather all the information you have on your debt and make a list of creditors showing the sum owed to each one. The next step is to make a note of the priority debts on your list. These debts have the most serious consequences if they are not dealt with – like being evicted, losing your house or getting a court fine. They include mortgage payments, rent, council tax, income tax and TV licence fees.
Then look at your income so that you can work out how much money you can afford to offer your creditors. You can try offering a bigger share of the money you’ve got available to the priority creditor you owe the most. Remember to make sure you’ve still got enough money to pay your essential bills and living costs.
If you’re not confident about negotiating with creditors or they won’t accept your offer, you can get help from specialist debt advisers at Citizens Advice Waverley. They might be able to negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, or help you find other debt solutions. It is best to consider all the options available before choosing the right one for you. These might include a Debt Relief Order (DRO), a Debt Management Plan, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or an Administration Order for example.
If you’re worried about debt – or something else?
Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help.
For free, independent, confidential advice call:
0344 848 7969
Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people by making a donation at https://waverleycab.org.uk/fundraising . Your donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help local people when they most need it.
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