What can I do if I can’t pay my bills?

‘Can’t pay, we’ll take it away!’ is the popular TV program that gives an eye-opening account of those people who are unable to pay their debts, they are not alone.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), 8.3 million people in the UK are unable to pay off debts or household bills.


**If you are one of those people, don’t despair, there is help out there for you.**


In this article, we are going to look at that topic in a simplistic form to make it easy to understand. Debt can be daunting and confusing, we can help you understand your recovery options. The first most important step we recommend is to ‘Make contact’ – talk to relevant people, preferably authorised debt counsellors who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Read our article ‘Who can I speak to about debt’ to understand more. 


There are companies that offer debt solutions who are not authorised and regulated. It takes only a few minutes to check – make time, save yourself more expense and headaches in the long run.


What can you do if you can’t pay your bills?

  • Don’t ignore the problem, it won’t go away on its own
  • Speak to a debt counsellor. Read our article ‘Who can I speak to about debt?’
  • Search online using keywords such as debt services, debt help, debt consolidation or debt relief to find authorised and regulated counsellors 
  • Seek help if you are struggling emotionally (https://www.samaritans.org/)
  • Avoid the ‘loan trap’ – we can explain this term in more detail
  • Implement self-help and disciplines – prioritise payments, keep paying what you can, budget and save. Read our article Controlling your finances
  • Check to see if you are claiming all the benefits that you are entitled to
  • Prioritise your essential day to day costs – such as rent, council tax, gas, water and electricity. Missing these could have serious consequences


Find out here: Are you entitled to benefits?  

Find out here: Tax credits calculator



Until you get the opportunity to speak to an expert about what to do if you are struggling to pay your bills, here is a guide to help you identify the priorities for your outgoings:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Gas and Electric
  • Council tax
  • Income tax and VAT
  • Court fines
  • Secured loans
  • Food
  • Water and sewage
  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • Doorstep lenders and payday loans
  • Store cards
  • Catalogues
  • TV licence
  • Bank overdraft
  • Pensions
  • Borrowed from family or friends
  • Student loans
  • Whatever else you owe of low priority

We understand that sometimes when you receive letters, emails or other forms of communication about any debts it can be quite confusing – you see words and phrases that you just don’t understand.

 Here are some debt-related keywords and their definitions:

  • Back – a word used to describe money owed from an earlier date
  • Bailiff – an official person whose job is to take away possessions of someone who hasn’t paid money they owe
  • Debtor – a person, organization or country that owes money
  • Debt-ridden – in serious financial trouble
  • Deep in debt – owing a lot of money
  • Delinquent – someone fails to pay taxes or bills
  • AEO – Attachment of Earnings Order 
  • HCEO – High Court Enforcement Officer
  • In arrears – late in making payment
  • Indebted – owing money
  • In hock to someone – owing money to someone
  • Insolvent – a person or company that doesn’t have the money to pay money owed
  • In the hole – in the situation of owing money
  • In the red – more money being spent than available
  • Judgment debtor – someone who owes money under the terms of a court judgement
  • Liable – someone must pay or do something
  • Overdrawn – you owe the bank money that you have spent when there was no money in your account

Have you received communication about debts you may owe and you don’t understand what the email or letter means? Contact us today and we can talk it through with you. Don’t struggle with your debt alone, we can help you find a solution and regain control of your finances. 

UK DEBT HELP & ADVICE – understand your options and find your solutions.

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