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There are so many things you need to pay out each month that it can become difficult to know what you need to pay first. How do you tell a priority bill from a non-priority debt? What makes a mortgage payment more important than a credit card payment?
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. You must always pay these before your other debts.
A number of measures are being rolled out to help people who are struggling financially because of coronavirus. These include payment holidays for credit cards and mortgages, changes to overdraft charges, help for renters and the extension of the moratorium period for debts in Scotland.
Read our guides:
The table below highlights what your priority bills are, and what can happen if you don’t pay them. The consequences can vary depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
You'll also find information about how payments to your priority debts may have changed during the current coronavirus crisis.
Find out how we can help you.
Payment holidays of up to three months – contact your lender as they may also have other measures in place in addition to payment holidays
Find out more.
Government protection in place to prevent evictions. Landlords must give three months’ notice before eviction can proceed. Court hearings are suspended.
No special measures. Contact the person to whom you send the money to change the arrangement if you’re able to. The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is not currently chasing missed payments.
No special measures. If you’ve been asked to attend a court hearing you must still attend but contact the court first.
HMRC have put in place several measures to help depending on your situation.
TV Licensing has agreed that any missed payments can be repaid once the situation returns to normal.
Action to disconnect supplies has been suspended and most energy suppliers will have some measures in place to reduce your bill or pause payments.
Credit providers are giving up to three months’ payment break.
* Imprisonment for non-payment of Council Tax doesn't apply to Wales
Even with special measures in place, we recommend you deal with these debts as priorities, because the consequences of non-payment can be serious.
If you have unsecured debt that’s making it more difficult to pay your priority bills, then it’s really important that you get free and confidential debt advice as soon as possible.
Your unsecured debt is classed as ‘non-priority’ because the consequences of not paying these each month are much less severe than not paying your priorities each month. We can take a look at these debts and give free, practical debt advice and solutions on how best to pay these debts while staying on top of your most important living expenses.
Of everything you pay out, it’s important that you pay your priorities in full each month. It’s also important that you make an arrangement to clear any priority arrears as soon as possible.
Due to the consequences of not paying priority bills in full, it can be quite difficult to reduce these down. It may be possible to put lower payments in place if you’re facing financial difficulty, however:
We’d also recommend you take a look at your budget to understand what your spending looks like on a monthly basis. We can help you with this. Either call us or take two minutes to answer a few simple questions, so we can understand the best way to help you.