The Welfare Rights Service can assist you with most aspects of debt.
- Resolve any emergency issues i.e. bailiffs, court action
- If you have at least one priority creditor (eg rent arrears, council tax arrears, court fine) we can advocate on your behalf by contacting your creditors to make repayment arrangements
- If you have at least one priority creditor we will complete a financial statement to assess your options and provide budgeting advice where appropriate.
- We can provide you with advice and information to help you decide on your best long term options to resolve your debt problems i.e. Debt relief Orders, Bankruptcy and help you make the applications.
If you would like Debt Advice from us then contact us on: 0115 915 1355 where we will have an initial discussion with you and then if necessary make an appointment for a longer meeting with an advisor.
We have also produced some debt information and useful links that you may find useful prior to seeking advice or if you decide to manage your debt issues yourself, if you decide to manage your debt issues yourself. Some of the information links provided are external to the Nottingham City Welfare Rights service so any advice contained is the responsibility of the website owners and their organisations.
We realise that setting and keeping to a budget is difficult especially when you are on a low income or your income changes due to issues beyond your control such as changes to your benefits or unexpected illness.
However, it may help you feel more in control of your finances if you complete a budget sheet showing your income and expenditure. You may feel anxious about this but it will help you to make clear decisions on the best way to deal with your situation.
You have 2 options here:
- If you are only looking for help to do this yourself there are various websites from national debt agencies to support you with this.
An example of this is are on these pages:
- National Debtline
- Money Advice Service
- The Money Advice Service also have a specific one to help people who are on Universal credit manage their money.
- National Debtline also have a comprehensive self-help guide on dealing with your debts
- If you think you should be entitled to welfare benefits to maximise your income we can check this for you, you can ring us on 0115 9151355
It is important that you prioritise the right bills/debts to pay first:
Examples of Priority debts/Expenses & remedies available to them if you don’t pay them
- Council tax – attachment of earnings, imprisonment, charging order on your owner occupied property
- Rent – eviction
- Court Fines – Bailiffs, warrant for arrest
- TV Licence - bailiff action, warrant for arrest
- Magistrates Court Fines – warrant for arrest
Examples of Non Priority debts/expenses
- Unsecured loan – none until they have obtained a County Court Judgement
- Credit cards - as above
- Catalogue debts - as above
- Doorstep collection agencies – as above
This can be difficult at times as many Non Priority Creditors can be very demanding for their payments as:
- They send letters that can often look intimidating and make demands for immediate payment.
- They appear to threaten bailiff action – they cannot do this unless they have obtained a County court Judgement.
It is important to make sure that you don’t pay the Non Priority debts/Creditors in preference to your priority creditors.
You may have to cancel your direct debits or standing orders to non-priority creditors if you are unable to pay your priority bills.
Other things to consider
If you have a payday loan you should also check that the agreement does not give a continuous payment authority. You may have not been aware of this when you took the account out but this allows payments to be taken from your debit or credit card. Check with the company and if this is the case cancel this with them and if they won’t contact your bank directly.
A useful webpage describing how to prioritise debts can be found on the Step Change website.
Check your entitlement to benefits
If you call our duty advice line on 0115 9151355 our advisors will be able to complete a full benefit check for you to see if there is an entitlement to benefits that you haven’t made a claim for. Our advisors can check your full circumstances to see if you or any other members of your household might be able to claim any additional benefits. They can also check if you would be better off on Universal Credit or remaining on the existing benefit system.
If you are already in receipt of Welfare Benefits and are considering making a new claim for Universal Credit it is important for you to understand the following:
- When you make a new claim for Universal Credit this removes your right to claim benefits under the existing system. This means that any Tax Credits or Housing Benefit that you receive will be replaced by Universal Credit.
- Once the change has been made you cannot return to these benefits even if the change to Universal credits makes you worse off.
- However, there are circumstances where you can amend your existing benefits rather than making a new claim for Universal Credit.
Therefore, if you are considering a claim for Universal Credit we would strongly suggest that you speak to one of our Advisors before making your claim on 0115 9151355. There may be long term impacts with transferring to Universal Credit and our advisors will be able to explain this to you so you can make an informed decision.
If you are not on existing benefits and want only to know the amounts of Universal Credit you may receive then you may wish to use one of the online benefits' calculator. (https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators)
Consider opening a new bank account
If you have a loan with the same lender that you have a bank account with then the contractual loan amount is often deducted from your account directly. The best advice in these circumstances is to open an account with a different bank that you don’t owe any money to. If you are significantly overdrawn then payments into the account can be swallowed up by bank charges or the effect of the bank taking your full contractual loan amount can leave you with no income.
Remember if you are doing this to close the account formally and to ensure that all your direct debits are transferred to the new account. If you have other debts you may not be able to open an account with an overdraft but banks should offer you a basic bank account and for many of these accounts you can still set up direct debits or standing orders.
There is some useful information about this on the Money Advice Service website.
Reduce deductions from your benefits if they are causing hardship
If you are having debts such as a Budgeting Loan or Benefit Overpayments taken from your benefits then these can be reduced in some cases where you are suffering hardship. You can call the Debt Management Department of the DWP on 0800 916 0647 and they will go through a financial statement with you. If you need further advice/support with this then call us on 0115 9151355.
There is also the option with Universal Credit Advances to defer the payments for up to three months which may allow you time to deal with a short term crisis. You can do this via the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Anyone lending money on a commercial basis has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money legally. If someone is not authorised they are breaking the law. These lenders are commonly known as loan sharks. There is a national illegal money lending team to help people in this situation. You can report this online and also anonymously. A third party can use the online form to report a loan shark online on your behalf. This team works closely with Police and Local Trading Standards to bring prosecutions against illegal lenders. For further information please visit the Stop Loan Sharks website.
If you are seeking advice often you creditors will agree to hold any further action while you contact an advice agency. It can be difficult to talk to your creditors and you may feel reluctant to do this, however, creditors are expected in their various codes of conduct to treat consumers fairly.
They will often agree to allow you breathing space and stop action while you seek further advice, generally for 30 days. It is always best to speak to your creditors where you can as if you don’t they will be unable to give you this time and may assume if you don’t get in touch with them that you are unwilling rather than unable to pay.
Some guidance on asking for this breathing space is available on the Step Change website.
Nottingham Jobs is the City Council's employment and skills brokerage service providing specialist support to employers and job seekers within Nottingham and its neighbourhoods. It is delivered in partnership with the DWP and Futures with funding from the European Social Fund. They have provided the below information about how these services can help if you are looking for work:
Jobs, advice, support and training opportunities
If you are out of work, on reduced hours or looking to gain new skills, support is available for you through Nottingham Jobs.
Whatever your age or circumstances, we’ll help you find or apply for jobs, update your CV, learn interview tips, gain confidence and much more. We’re not just a recruitment agency, we’ll get to know you and will treat you as an individual to get you the support you need.
You can call us on 0115 876 4508 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) or if you prefer register with Nottingham Jobs online and we’ll contact you to find out more about whatever it is you’re looking for help with.
You can also contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ways to increase your income and reduce your expenditure
There a number of useful ways that you can reduce the amount you have to pay on bills for example and there may be ways that you might increase your overall income. We have a section on this “ Ways you can increase your income and reduce the amount of money you need to pay out” that can be accessed from here.