When you get into debt, it can be hard to figure out what needs to be paid first. While missing some payments can lead to minor inconveniences, not paying off other debts can lead to bad situations. We’re here to advise you on how to avoid these.

Priority debts are debts that can have serious repercussions if they aren’t paid. If you have a few debts you need to pay off, these are the ones you need to pay first.

Your rent is a priority debt as if you do not pay it, eventually you will be asked to move out so others can live in the property. We want to avoid this from happening and are able to offer support such as tailored payment plans or advice with accessing benefits if you find yourself unable to pay your rent. Please get in touch with us, we are here to help you.

Other priority debts include (but are not limited to) the following:

Priority Debt

What may happen if it is not unpaid

Council Tax

This is a priority debt because your local council might take you to the magistrate’s court if you don’t pay. If you have the money but choose not to pay when the magistrate’s court tells you to, you could go to prison. You won’t go to prison if you can show you can’t pay.

TV Licence

This is a priority debt because you could be fined by the magistrate’s court if you watch TV without a licence. Check if you need a TV licence on the TV Licensing website.

Any child maintenance

This is a priority debt because the Child Maintenance Service can take the money from your wages or bank accounts if you don’t pay. You may also be asked to attend the magistrates court where you face further penalties.

Gas and electricity bills

This is a priority because your supplier might cut off your gas or electricity if you don’t pay, meaning you may struggle to keep warm, access hot water or use any appliances.

Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT

These are priority debts because if you don’t pay, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can take the money from your wages, use bailiffs to take your property or take you to court for further penalties.

It’s also good to understand what classes as a non-priority debt. These are debts where the consequences are less serious than above. However, it’s still important to pay them before matters escalate, as your creditors could take you to court to claim these payments (check what to do if you’re being taken to court).

Your non-priority debts include:

  • Credit Card or store card debts
  • Unsecured loans including payday loans
  • Unpaid water bills – your supplier cannot cut off your water.
  • Overpayments of benefits, apart from tax credits
  • Unpaid parking tickets
  • Money you owe family or friends. If you explain your financial issues to them you may be able to negotiate a way to pay your debt to them over time instead.

If you think you need advice on handling your debt, you can find help that’s right for you on the Money Advice Service website. Alternatively, we are here to help you at Six Town Housing. We can offer advice and point you in the right direction, just contact us here and we will be in touch with you soon.

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