Having trouble paying bills?

Your income and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Your income may be affected due to no longer being able to work, working less hours, caring for someone or self-isolation. You may be able to claim sick pay or other benefits to help you.

Visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for the most up to date information.

Council tax or housing benefit overpayment recovery

If you receive a recovery document and you are unable to pay your balance please complete an online income and expenditure form to help the council determine an appropriate repayment amount.

Many people have difficulty with their finances. This can be for a number of reasons such as redundancy, having to leave work through ill health, problems with budgeting or dealing with debt.

If you are worried that you will be unable to keep up with rent, mortgage or council tax there is help available.

If you fall behind with your bills, lenders and service providers have legal powers to recover the debt. These powers depend on the type of debt. If you have several debts, you will need to know which of these must take priority.

Priority Non Priority
Rent or mortgage Benefit overpayments
(unless there has been a conviction for fraud)
Secured loans Unsecured loans
Council tax Credit cards
Gas and electricity Store cards
Court fines Overdrafts
Income tax or VAT arrears Catalogues
TV licence Hire purchase
CSA payments  

If you are in debt, it is important to contact the people (creditors) you owe money to at the earliest opportunity.

This may seem daunting but if your creditors are not aware of your financial situation they will assume you do not want to make payments and start taking action against you.

Where do I start?

  • Make a list of your expenditure and include amounts owed and when payments are due.
  • List all of your income including all benefits you receive.
  • Check you have claimed all the benefits you are entitled to. Citizens Advice can assist with this.
  • Look at ways to increase your income, for example, getting an additional part time job or taking in a lodger. Ensure you check if and how this affects any benefits that you may be claiming.
  • Work out if you can reduce your non-essential expenditure. There are a number of good websites offering tips on money saving.

What happens next?

Once you have worked out how much you can afford to pay your creditors, you will need to contact your priority creditors and try to make an arrangement to pay back what you owe. If there's money leftover you can make offers to non-priority creditors.

You should ensure that offers are affordable and that you are not persuaded to offer more than you can manage to pay. Some creditors may agree to freeze interest on loans. You should ask them to consider this.

Do you have rent arrears?

If you are having problems paying the rent speak to your landlord as soon as possible. You may be able to make an arrangement with them to clear any arrears in instalments.

If you are a housing association tenant your landlord will be able to advise you on debt problems and offer you support. Contact your landlord immediately.

First Point provides housing support and advice services to people at risk of losing their home, including those falling behind on the rent. For more information call 01256 423805

If your issues are caused by a reduction in income, you may be eligible for assistance with your housing costs. You can check you entitlement by viewing our claim housing benefit and/or council tax support webpage.

What if I do not have enough money to make payments?

If you have a large amount of debt or multiple creditors it can be difficult to negotiate repayments that you can afford. You may need to look at alternative debt resolution strategies. It is important to seek immediate advice on the options available.


Bankruptcy is a legal process that can free you from overwhelming debt that you have little hope of repaying in a reasonable amount of time. In some cases creditors can choose to make you bankrupt.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

A DRO is an alternative to bankruptcy but you will need to meet certain criteria in order to qualify.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)

An IVA is an agreement with your creditors to pay all or part of your debts. You agree to make regular payments to an insolvency practitioner who will divide them between your creditors.

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

A DMP is an agreement with your creditors to pay all of you debts. There are organisations that can negotiate this on your behalf or you could contact your creditors directly to make an agreement.

Information on the options available to you can be found at www.gov.uk/pay-off-debts

Contact us

  • Contact us online
  • 01256 844844
  • Civic Offices
    London Road
    RG21 4AH
  • Opening hours
    Monday to Friday
    8.30am to 4.30pm