Advice Column: Debt

Thursday 26 January 2017

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on dealing with urgent debts.

 I am struggling to keep up with my debt payments and don’t know where to start.

 It’s important to keep in contact with the people you owe money to (your creditors). If your creditors don’t know you’re having financial difficulties, they may assume that you don’t want to pay and start taking action against you.

Before you start contacting your creditors, you’ll need to sort out how much money you owe and who you owe it to. Then you’ll need to sort out which are the most urgent debts to pay off and if you’ve got enough money to do this.

You need to deal with some debts more urgently than others because the consequences of not paying them can be more serious than for other debts. These are known as priority debts and include things like mortgage, rent and council tax debts. The people you owe this type of debt to are called priority creditors.

To see whether you’ve got enough money to pay off your priority debts, you will need to put together a budget to work out how much money you’ve got coming into your household and how much you need to spend.

If you’ve got some money to pay off your debts, you must make sure you deal with any priority debts first. After that you can deal with any less urgent debts such as credit card debts, overdrafts and other loans. These types of debts are known as non-priority debts.

When you have worked out how much you can afford to pay your creditors, you will need to contact each priority creditor and try to make an arrangement to pay back what you owe. After that, if there’s money left over, you can make offers to non priority creditors.

If you haven’t got enough money to repay your priority debts, you need to get advice as quickly as possible as the outcome could be serious.

For more information and advice, including budget tools, go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on homelessness.

 The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit