It is very easy and very common for anyone to get into debt. If you do have financial problems don't just ignore it and hope it will go away - it won't. The worst thing you can do is to ignore letters asking for money as sooner or later you will be sent letters threatening you with legal action and this will only cause you more pressure and distress.

You must get financial advice as soon as possible. Citizens Advice Bureau will help with financial matters and will often write letters on your behalf to companies asking for money. The National Debtline produces an excellent free booklet which gives advice on all kinds of debt including mortgage and rent arrears and what to do if you are threatened with repossession.

It is essential to pay priority debts first - gas, electric, water, mortgage, rent etc. These must come before paying off credit cards or personal loans (except loans secured on property).

The booklet from the National Debtline informs you of your rights. Most credit card/loan companies etc. assume you don't know your rights and they demand money and make threats in many cases which they have no right to do. The booklet explains how to work out your money going out and money coming in - see what is left over, advises you how to work out what is left to give to people you owe money to once you have taken out your priority debts. Don't offer to pay more than you can afford to pay. Keep copies of any letters you send to anyone you owe money to. If you cannot make the full minimum payment offer to pay something even if it is only a token payment.

Look at ways you may be able to cut down on your spending. Charity shops are now very fashionable places to get your clothes and other items so don't discount them. Have a think about if there are any ways you can make extra money e.g. you may have a lot of stuff in your house you don't want or use so maybe think about having a boot sale, if you are talented and artistic and creative - what about selling your items at craft fares, charity fun days etc.

Try not to let financial difficulties come between you and your partner if you are in a relationship, try not to talk about money problems constantly - set aside a certain time each week to talk about money problems and then let it go. Try and work out what to do together - it is no good blaming each other - focus on the solution to the problem.

Get advice and don't ignore the problem - sort things out as soon as you can.

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Some agencies who provide information and advice

  • Business Debtline
    Freephone: 0800 197 6026
    Fax: (0121) 410 6230

    8th Floor Tricorn House,
    51-53 Hagley Road,
    Birmingham, B16 8TP

    Opening Hours:
    Monday - Friday 9am to 8.00pm

    Service Description
    Business Debtline provides free advice to small businesses and people who are self-employed. Their services are available over the phone, through their website and via webchat.

    Business Debtline helps people understand their options.

    Run by the national charity the Money Advice Trust, Business Debtline offers practical self-help; empowering people to speak to creditors directly and put solutions in place to resolve their business finance and debt problems.

    Their website - www.businessdebtline.org, contains guides, fact sheets and sample letters, as well as a business and household budget tool.

    Business Debtline can give you advice on important business debts such as tax and business rates, and support if creditors take court action. They can help you look at your business finances and decide the next steps to take. For example, they can advise on how best to recover debts from other people or how to close your business if that's the right thing for you. They can also advise you on personal debts such as credit cards and bank loans and help you to budget better.

    Business Debtline is completely free, confidential and independent.

    A wide range of information packs and fact sheets on debt issues are free to individuals.

    0121 410 6251/6252/6254/6259

  • Citizen Advice Bureau:
    Have bureaux across England, Wales and N. Ireland
    www.adviceguide.org.uk for CAB information online

  • Chartered Institute of Credit Management:
    01780 722903

    Advice and guidance on all aspects of credit management

  • Step Change Debt Charity:
    0800 138 1111

    Helpline and counselling for people with debt problems. Provide debt management plans which include debt repayment schedules and advice on all aspects of money management.

    If you are thinking about debt management as a way of solving your debt problem, make sure you get some impartial advice first. Debt management plans (DMPs) are not suitable for everyone. Also, beware of any company charging fees for arranging your DMP. StepChange Charity will advise you of the best debt solution for your circumstances and if a DMP is right for you, they can provide you with a free debt management plan. For more information visit the StepChange Charity website.

  • Debt Advice Foundation: 0800 043 40 50
    Free impartial advice on issues relating to debt. Website includes budget planner, debt analyser, benefit entitlement checker, money management guide, student debt guide, and education section aimed at developing children’s understanding of key financial principles and equip them with the tools they need to responsibly interact with the world of finance as they enter adulthood.

  • Debt Support Trust: 0800 085 0226
    Information and support relating to all debt issues.

  • TaxAid:
    Telephone advice and information for people needing tax advice who cannot afford to pay an accountant. Also face to face advice service in London

  • Money Advice Plus
    DAME - Domestic Abuse and Money Education Project
    01323 635987
    The Project provides specialist money advice by telephone for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing domestic abuse. This service can be accessed wherever you live in England and Wales. Advisors have special training in safeguarding and will always check if it is safe before calling you back.

  • National Debtline
    Freephone: 0808 808 4000
    Fax: (0121) 410 6230

    8th Floor Tricorn House,
    51-53 Hagley Road,
    Birmingham, B16 8TP

    Monday - Friday 9am to 8pm
    Saturday: 9:30am – 1:00 pm

    Service Description
    National Debtline provides free advice and resources to help people deal with their debts. Their service is available over the phone, through their website and via webchat.

    National Debtline helps people understand their options and take control of their debts.

    Run by the national charity the Money Advice Trust, National Debtline offers practical self-help; empowering people in debt to speak to creditors directly and put solutions in place to resolve their debt problems.

    Their website - www.nationaldebtline.org, contains guides, fact sheets and sample letters, as well as a personal budget tool.

    National Debtline gives advice on important debts such as rent or mortgage arrears and support if creditors take court action. National Debtline also helps people budget better and look for ways to increase their income. For some setting up a debt management plan (DMP), a debt relief order (DRO), an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or bankruptcy may be the best option. National Debtline helps with these too.

    National Debtline is completely free, confidential and independent.

    A wide range of information packs and fact sheets on debt issues - free to individuals and members of IMA, CAB or members of AdviceUK.

    0121 410 6251/6252/6254/6259

  • The Money Advice Service:
    0800 138 7777
    Helps people manage their money by free, unbiased, independent advice. Independent service set up by government.

  • The Insolvency Service CentralEnquiry Line:
    Insolvency enquiries: 0300 678 0015

    Redundancy enquiries: 0330 331 0020,
    Helpline providing initial information regarding insolvency legislation, e.g. bankruptcy, liquidation
  • Trussell Trust
    01722 580180
    Search on website for nearest foodbank - Everyday people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Trussell Foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. Vouchers can be obtained from care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and Citizen Advice Bureaux.


Useful websites

  • www.turn2us.org.uk
    National charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.

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