Seek help early is the advice for those affected by the COVID ‘debt time bomb’
Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham is concerned about the impact this debt time bomb is having on people’s mental health. The sooner people start to obtain help with their money worries, the better it will be for their financial health and their mental health.
A client said to us:
“The cost of everything seems to have gone up, especially my gas and electric. I’ve fallen behind on my bills and the debts are building up, and now there’s Christmas to pay for. I don’t know where to start?”
Our client had already taken a great first step by asking for help, and it’s important to know you don’t need to face this alone. Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham can help you to find a way forward.
In the meantime here are four steps you can take to get started:
1 Work out how much you owe
Make a list of whom you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month. If you don’t have your most recent statements, contact your creditor to find out what you owe. Some creditors will have special arrangements for people with COVID-related arrears.
2 Prioritise your debts
Your rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. Separate these and work out how much you owe. Again, you can ask the companies or council what support might be available.
3 Work out how much you can pay
Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing, and taking these away from your income. The Citizens Advice budgeting tool on our website can help.
Any money you have spare can be put towards your debts, starting with the priority debts first.
If you have any money left after paying priority debts, but not enough to make your usual payments on other debts, consider getting advice on the best way for you to start getting on top of them.
Alternatively, you can contact your creditors and offer them what you can afford to pay.
4 If you can’t pay your debts
If you’ve got little or no money spare to pay your priority debts seek advice from Citizens Advice straight away. If you’re struggling to pay for basics like food, seek help immediately to see what support might be available to you.
If you can’t pay off other debts, such as credit cards and loans, it would also be worth contacting Citizens Advice.
Sian Hiller, Chief Officer at Edenbridge & Westerham Citizens Advice, says: “We know it can feel very daunting to deal with debt, but having a plan really helps and our team will be here to help you every step of the way.”
If you need advice you can contact Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham via:
• FREE Adviceline telephone: 0808 278 7962
• Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk