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Can I be forced to repay my debts?

If you can’t afford to pay your regular payments towards your debts, you may need to consider making reduced payments.

For most consumer credit debts, if you decide to make reduced payments, your creditors can’t force you to pay more than you can afford.

Of course there will be consequences if you do this. For example, your creditors are likely to begin action to reclaim the debt and ask you to bring your account up to date. Making reduced payments will also affect your credit file and could lead to extra charges and interest.

If you continue to make reduced payments, your account will eventually default as you’re no longer making the payments set out in the original agreement.

Before you consider making reduced payments to your debts it’s important you understand the consequences and think carefully if this is the right thing to do. We can help you with this.

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When could I be ‘forced’ to pay my debts?

There are some situations where making reduced payments is not an option.  This means you may have to keep paying the debt at the rate the creditor decides, even if you’re making lower reduced payments to other debts.

Debts like this are often known as priority debts and they’re the most important debts to pay.

There are two main reasons why you might need to treat a debt as a priority and pay it at a rate the creditor wants:

  • The creditor has the power to take money from you at a rate they decide Some creditors are able to take money from you because they have special legal powers allowing them to do this. For example, some government debts such as taxes, fines or council tax can be taken directly from your wages or benefits at a fixed rate. Or if you don’t pay a CCJ or decree, the creditor may be able to ask the court to take money directly from you using an attachment of earnings or earnings arrestment. This means even if you want to make reduced payments you may not be able to.
  • The consequences of making reduced payments are so serious that they leave you with no realistic choice  Some creditors can take further action if you don’t pay the amount they want. Common examples of this are rent or mortgage arrears, where paying less than your landlord or mortgage company requires you to pay could lead to losing your home. Similarly, not paying utilities such as energy and water bills could lead to you losing essential services, or not paying hire purchase or logbook loan debts could lead to you losing your car or other essential goods. In all of these cases, the creditor can’t take money directly from you but the consequences of not paying them mean you may have no choice but to pay what they want.

How can we help?

If you’re struggling to pay your debts, and you think you may need to make reduced payments, we can help you work out which are the priority debts that are most important to pay.

We can also help you put together a household budget and work out how much you can afford to pay to all of your debts, and the best way to deal with them.

If you're worried about debts or money, we can help. Just take two minutes to answer a few simple questions, so we can understand the best way to support you. Or call to speak to an advisor (free from all landlines and mobiles).