Many people fall into debt at some point in their lives. This can be due to lots of reasons such as a change in financial circumstances caused by reduced income, overuse of credit, relationship problems, a change in employment status or illness.
Almost 2 million people in the United Kingdom owe more that £10,000 on credit cards, overdrafts or other unsecured loans, and about 500,000 people owe more than £20,000 (Source: Gfk NOP, 2006).
If you are worried about debt then try not to panic but do not ignore this problem and do not borrow money to pay off your debts. There are ways you can deal with debt that will help you regain control of your money and give you peace of mind.
New Debt Advice Leaflet
- View our new debt advice leaflet PDF, 387.87 KB
Basic steps to get out of debt
The first step is to make a list of all the people you owe money to.
Then, place each of these into a category of either being a priority debt or a non-priority debt. Priority debts include things such as mortgage or rent arrears, council tax arrears or court fines. These are the most urgent debts because if you do not pay them, it could eventually lead to the loss of your goods, your home or being imprisoned. Non-priority debts on the other hand include things such as overdrafts, loans, hire purchase, or credit cards.
The next step is to draw up your personal budget so that you know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. This will help you work out how much you might be able to offer creditors to clear your debts. You can do this by completing the financial statement below
Then, contact the people you owe money to, explain your situation and make them an offer that is realistic and manageable. Don't give up trying to reach an agreement if they are difficult and make sure that you keep copies of all letters you receive or send.
- Financial statement form to download PDF, 148.03 KB
Who to contact for further advice
If this sounds daunting or you do not think that you have enough income to cover all of your debts, then do not worry. You do not have to do this on your own as there is help out there.
There are many organisations that offer free, impartial, confidential advice and can even speak to the people you owe money to on your behalf. Here is a list of organisations that you can contact for further advice:
This is a free service that offers housing-related support to help maintain tenancies or mortgages, which can include help in managing finances and benefit claims. Contact Dartford Borough Council for more details at 01322 343378.
If you are a Council tenant and in rent arrears, please contact the Housing Management Team immediately to discuss your options:
Tel: 01322 343133 or 01322 343134
Online: Contact our Rents Team
Housing and Council Tax Benefit
Housing and Council Tax Benefit are national means tested welfare benefits. The purpose of the Housing Benefit scheme is to help people who have a low-income pay their rent. The Council Tax Benefit scheme provides help with Council Tax charges.
You may find that you are eligible for these benefits. You can get a benefits estimate visiting the benefits section of our website.
Tel: 01322 343705
Online: Contact our Benefits Team
Practical support and financial advice about benefits, tax credits, training, work and looking for a job.
61 Lowfield Street
0345 604 3719
Citizens Advice Bureau
Trinity Resource Centre
Kent, DA1 1DE
Opening times (updated October 2012):
Monday 9.30am - 5.00pm
Tuesday 9.30am - noon (appointments only) One Stop Shop 10.00am - noon
Wednesday 9.30am - 2.30pm
Thursday 9.30am - 2.30pm
Telephone Gateway Assessments - tel 01322 472979:
Monday 9.30am - noon
Wednesday 9.30am - noon
Thursday 9.30am - noon
Old Fire Station, Church Road, Swanscombe
11.00am - 1.00pm on the second Wednesday of each month
StepChange Debt Charity
StepChange Debt Charity provides free, impartial, anonymous debt advice, debt management and help. StepChange will work with you and discuss the best options available to you.
Contact 0800 138 1111 or visit www.stepchange.org for more information.
This service offers practical advice on dealing with debt including self help packs, sample letters to creditors and personal budget sheets.
Freephone 0808 808 4000 Monday to Friday 9:00am - 9:00pm. Saturday 9:30am - 1:00pm
Provides free debt management plans with on-line payment tracking and individual voluntary arrangements.
Freephone 0800 917 7823 8 www.payplan.com
Kent savers is a non-profit making credit union aiming to promote saving and provide their members with loans at reasonable rates, so that they feel in control of their own money.
Visit their website at here.
Financial Services Authority
The UK's financial watchdog Financial Services Authority runs a campaign that allows you to take part in a Financial Health Check and a Debt Test. It also offers a budget calculator and savings tables.
Bankruptcy-Insolvency.co.uk - debt advice service
Bankruptcy-Insolvency.co.uk is a freephone telephone advice service for people with debt problems. The service also operates teams of outreach workers covering Dartford, Kent and Greater London. The service can also assist callers with the setting up of Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) Debt
Management Plans, & Debt Relief Orders
Freephone 0800 074 6918 - Open 24 hours all year round (including public holidays).
Talk About Debt
A free, confidential debt charity helpline which offers practical advice to make sure that you receive the right debt advice for your personal circumstances. Talk About Debt only works with debt companies that do not charge you for their services.
Debt Advice Foundation
Established in 2002, a registered charity in England and Wales. Their mission is to help the growing number of people who find themselves with unmanageable debts. They offer number of different services, including one-to-one advice and education initiatives. The charity also offers dedicated helpline assistance for community groups and other organisations.
This national housing and homelessness charity offers advice on debt and other housing-related issues.