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Priority Debts

Priority Debts

If you’re struggling to manage all of your payments to your household bills and your debts, it’s important that you know which ones you need to prioritise, and which ones are less important.

What are priority debts?

The following bills are ‘Priority’.

The types of debt which, if unpaid, can have more serious consequences are:

  • Mortgage, rent or loans secured on your property
  • Council tax
  • Utilities such as gas and electric
  • Magistrates court fines
  • Maintenance payable to an ex-partner or child
  • Income tax or VAT arrears
  • TV licence

If you fail to make these payments, they can result in further action being taken such as:

  • Eviction from and/or repossession of your home
  • The loss of essential services i.e. your gas or electricity supply could be cut off
  • Bailiff Action
  • Money being taken directly from your wages or benefits
  • Imprisonment

There are some other debts which may be considered as a priority depending on your circumstances, for example a hire purchase agreement for a car which is essential to you due to a disability or similar situation.

What to do if I have fallen behind with priority debts?

If you’ve fallen behind with your priority bills, you should seek debt advice straight away. You should also contact the providers and let them know that you’re getting help with your debts and to ask them to give you some time to get a solution in place.

The most important thing is that you continue to make the monthly repayments to your priority bills.

How you deal with your arrears will depend on whether you choose to enter a debt solution and, if so, which solution you choose. Insolvency solutions tend to give you protection against further action relating to council tax, gas, electric and tax arrears. Debt management don’t offer formal protection, but your DMP provider may be able to contact your priority creditors on your behalf to make an arrangement.

Debt solutions won’t usually be able to help you with arrears on:

  • Mortgage
  • Secured Loan
  • Court fines
  • Child support or maintenance

If you want to contact any of your priority creditors to make an arrangement towards the arrears, you can use our information on how to calculate offers to creditors

Non-priority debts include the following:

  • Personal (unsecured) loans
  • Credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Catalogues
  • Payday loans
  • Hire purchase (for non-essential goods such as TVs and games consoles)
  • Overdrafts
  • Loans from family & friends

If you’re unable to maintain your priority payments you should let your non-priority creditors know and ask if they can give you some breathing space whilst you bring your priority debts up to date.