Managing debt

Maximise your income

Make sure you're claiming all the benefits you're entitled to. You can speak to one of our benefits advisors via the details below to check your benefit entitlement. 

Minimise your outgoings

Make sure you're not overpaying for services. Check whether you get get a council tax reduction, or whether you can switch to a cheaper energy provider

Dealing with debt can be scary and confusing, but support is available and it's better to manage debts earlier than later. This a step by step plan for managing your debts. 

Make a list

Make a list of all your debts and how much you owe

Prioritise your debts

Sort your debts into priority and non-priority debts. Priority debts include:

  • Rent arrears

  • Gas and electricity bills

  • Council tax arrears

  • TV licence 

  • Child maintenance 

  • Court fines 

  • Hire purchase items 

Non-priority debts include:

  • Credit cards

  • Bank loans

  • Benefit overpayments

Manage your priority debts

You should focus on your priority debts first. You should contact your providers to let them know that you can't pay the full amount, and arrange a repayment plan.

Work out your disposable income

You should then work out how much disposable income you have to pay towards your non-priority debts. Work out your budget to see how much money you have left each month, after paying for essentials, to put towards debts.

Make offers to your non-priority creditors

Once you have worked out how much disposable income you have, you should split this equally between your non-priority creditors. You can show them your budgeting worksheet as evidence that you are paying back as much as you can. Even if you are only able to offer £1 per month, non-priority creditors will usually accept your offer. 

What if they don't accept?

If your non-priority creditors don't accept your offer, they can get a County Court Judgement to make you pay. This wont usually involve you actually going to court. The court can't make you pay more than you can afford.

For help with benefits, or with understanding any of the information on this page, email our team at or give us a call on 0114 2536700.

For more information and free advice, you can go to the StepChange website, or call their helpline on 0800 138 1111.

If you don’t have the money to pay off your debts, even by arranging a repayment plan, you can apply for insolvency options such as bankruptcy or a Debt Relief Order. For advice about insolvency options contact your local Citizens Advice to speak to a debt specialist.

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