We aim to make our website as accessible as possible. However if you use a screen reader and require debt advice you may find it easier to phone us instead. Our phone number is 0 8 0 0 1 3 8 1 1 1 1. Freephone (including all mobiles).
StepChange Debt Charity logo

Free advice on problem debt
based on what's best for you

Request a call back »
Or call us on 0800 138 1111Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm
i The advice on this page applies to residents in England and Wales only.

What to pay first

There are some things that you need to make sure you pay every month, as the results of not paying them can be serious.

Please note, if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland then we also have information about priority debts in Scotland and priority debts in Northern Ireland.

Some bills are classed as priorities because the consequences of not paying them are greater than the consequences of not paying others. For example, if you don’t pay your rent or your mortgage you could lose your home. These bills are your priorities and you must always pay these before your other creditors. 

The table below highlights what your priority bills are, and what can happen if you don’t pay them.

Type of debt Consequence of non-payment
Mortgage or secured loan Losing your home
Rent Losing your home
Council tax A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage, money taken from benefits, debt secured against home, bankruptcy, or imprisonment
Child maintenance Money taken from wage, money taken from benefits, visit from bailiffs, or imprisonment
Magistrates court fines A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage, money taken from benefits, or imprisonment
Tax, VAT or National Insurance A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage, bankruptcy, or County Court judgment
County Court judgment A visit from bailiffs, a charging order, money taken from wage
TV Licence A fine
Gas or electricity Disconnection, money taken from benefits, County Court judgment
Water County Court judgment or money taken from benefits
Hire purchase or logbook loan Repossession or County Court judgment
Telephone Disconnection or County Court judgment

If you’re worried because you’ve missed payments on your priority bills please call our Helpline on 0800 138 1111 (free from all landlines and mobiles). Our expert advisors will be able to give you advice on talking to the companies and organisations, and getting your payments up to date. Or you can use our free online debt advice tool Debt Remedy.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2016