Help if you’re struggling with debt

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service


Add up how much you owe

The first step towards taking control is to put together a list of everyone you need to make payments to, including household bills, mortgage or rent payments outstanding loan or credit payments and debt repayments.

Check how much money you need to meet payments and whether you have fallen behind.

Understand which payments you need to tackle first

Some bills and payments are higher priority as the consequences of not paying can be more serious.

Find out more in our guide How to prioritise your debts.

If you’re facing a debt emergency

It’s important to get free debt advice as soon as you can if you’ve fallen behind on priority payments, or are facing any emergency issues, including:

  • being contacted by bailiffs
  • receiving a court summons
  • having your gas or electricity cut off
  • having your home, car or goods repossessed 

Make a budget

To take control of your finances, it’s important to put together a budget. This will help you understand how much money you have to make payments.

Our free Budget Planner puts you in control of your household spending and analyses your results to help you take control of your money. It’s already helped hundreds of thousands of people.

If you’ll struggle with making a budget, or still have worries after you’ve crunched the numbers, you can always speak with a free debt adviser who can help you. 

Budget Planner

To work out how much money you have coming in and what you’re spending it on.

Try to increase your income

You might find your budget doesn’t balance and your income is less than your outgoings or you have just enough to live on but have no spare cash to pay off debts.

If that’s the case, there might be things you can do to increase your income or cut down on what you spend.

For example, you might be able to claim benefits you’re entitled to, claim a grant or save money on your household bills by switching providers.

Is your household income feeling squeezed by Covid?

Check you’re getting all the benefits or grants you might be entitled to.


Find extra money by signing up for the free Bounce Back service from the experts at Income Max.


Visit the Income Max website

Talk to the people you owe money to

The support your creditor can give you will depend on things like:

  • the type of bill or payment it is
  • how much you owe
  • how many payments you have missed
  • your ability to make repayments
  • whether you need extra support because you’re vulnerable.

The action your creditor can take will also depend on different things, such as whether it’s a priority or non-priority debt or whether it’s a credit agreement or a household bill.

To find out what you need to do for different bills and payments read our guides on Help if you’re Struggling

Get free, confidential advice

If you’re having trouble with debt and finding it hard to manage things yourself, the last thing you might want to do is talk to a complete stranger about your problems.

But it can be the best thing you can do, especially if you’re thinking about using a formal debt repayment method, like a debt repayment plan or bankruptcy. It’s always best to talk things through with an experienced adviser before you make a decision.

This is because there are many ways to deal with debts and you might not be aware of all the options that are available to you. The way that is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances.

A free debt adviser can help you decide which option is right for you. Depending on your circumstances, this might just take one conversation.

A debt adviser will:

  • treat everything you say in confidence;
  • never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation;
  • suggest ways of dealing with debts that you might not know about;
  • check you’ve applied for all the benefits and entitlements available to you.

If you’re struggling with debts, Breathing Space could give you valuable time to find a solution. Find out more about Breathing Space and how it can help you.

Need someone to talk to about your finances?

If you’re struggling with money, you can talk to someone today, online or by phone. Our trained specialists can help you start sorting out your financial problems.

This article is provided by the MoneyHelper.