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Free Debt Help and Advice

Debt can be a big problem whether you have mental health needs or not, and it is normal to feel worried and anxious about debt and financial issues. Remember though that NO debt problem no matter how big is unsolvable. When debt builds up so does stress and anxiety levels, so in this section we have collated some free and impartial help and advice that is available to help you get out of debt. There is no need to pay for debt advice.

If you are currently affected by anxiety and stress and have been so for several weeks or it is affecting how you live your life, go to see your GP. You may find that talking to a professional therapist could help and your GP can advise you on talking therapy services in your area. Click here for more information on talking therapies. NHS Choices also has some information on how to recognise when your financial stress levels are getting too much, to see this information click here.

Seek help immediately if you start feeling like you really cannot cope, life is becoming very difficult or your life isn’t worth living. To get help and advice straight away, click here for our Need Help Now? Section to find out what 24 hour help and support is available.

If you yourself are currently not well enough to begin to take the steps to tackle your debt problems, ask a family member, carer, trusted friend or even an advocate. If you live in Kent you can find out about advocate services by clicking here or if you live in Medway click here.

If you are struggling with debts you may be entitled to apply for a debt relief order which you can apply for if you can’t afford to pay off your debts. It’s granted by the Insolvency Service and is a cheaper option than going bankrupt. To find out more about debt relief orders click here or go to your local CAB office.

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Dealing with Debt

There are two main ways of dealing with problem debts and what is right for you depends on if you are in debt crisis or are worried about debts.

A broad definition of Debt Crisis is when you cannot afford to make even the minimum payment on all debts or meet necessary outgoings. Therefore if your debts are large but you can afford to make minimum payments, you are not in debt crisis. Different solutions are there to tackle both of these type of debt.

If you are in debt crisis one of the first steps you can make to get debt free is to get free one-to-one help. Click here for details of free and imparital advice where you can talk to a skilled adviser.

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Debts can be split into two distinct groups, priority and non-priority debts:

Priority Debts

Debts that might result in you losing the roof over your head or getting into legal trouble are called priority debts. Sometimes you can negotiate payment amounts with creditors for priority debts. It is important to focus on repayment of these debts first, because of the legal impact. Priority debts are:

  • rent or mortgage
  • secured loans
  • business rent
  • business rates
  • council tax
  • electricity and gas
  • magistrates’ court fines
  • child support or maintenance
  • hire purchase or conditional sale rented and hired goods
  • income tax/VAT
  • TV licence

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Non-priority Debts

It can often feel as if non-priority debts are the most important because you might be chased more persistently to repay them or because you feel a personal obligation to pay back debts to family or friends first of all. However, debts that do not affect your home or carry the immediate threat of fines or legal action are considered non-priority. If you have a limited amount of money you should pay your priority debts first. But if you have non-priority debts it is still important that you deal with them, as you may ultimately be taken to court if you do not make arrangements to repay these debts. Non-priority debts include:

  • default on loans that are not secured against your home
  • credit card or store card debts
  • overdrafts
  • benefit and tax credit overpayments
  • student loans
  • money borrowed from family and friends
  • water charge arrears – water companies may no longer disconnect supplies to enforce payment, but payment of water bills should still be high up the list.
  • county court orders – where you have been ordered to pay a debt via a county court order – however courts will take into account someone’s ability to pay a debt.

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Free Debt Help and Advice

If you are struggling with debt, it is important that you get free, impartial and realistic debt advice as soon as possible. There is never any need to pay for debt help when debt charities provide this service for free. If you do choose to go to a debt management company, make sure you are aware of any fees you will be charged, before you sign up to a debt plan. The best way to be sure of getting the free help you need is by going to a debt charity. With debt charities, you can be sure that the advice you receive is in your interests and that any help you are offered has no hidden fees attached. Here at Live It Well we have compiled sources of free debt help for you.

Step Change – Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS)

Steph Change – The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) have been providing free debt help and advice for 18 years. If you have additional needs it is important that you let them know so that they can provide you with the appropriate additional support. Step Change can give you an instant, no obligation assessment of your debt problem and tailored advice based on your situation.

You can access their free debt help through their web page by clicking here .

They also provide an online Debt Remedy tool, which you can access from their website. Click here to go to the Step Change website.

Telephone: 0800 138 1111

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Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

The Citizens Advice Bureau provide free and impartial debt advice, they have branches through out Kent and Medway, click here and enter your postcode at the bottom of the page to find your nearest branch. They also produce some factsheets on credit and debt and you can access these by clicking here.

To find out more go to their website by clicking here.

The Citizens Advice Bureau also produce the following factsheets concerning debt issues:

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National Debtline

National Debtline is a national telephone helpline for people with debt problems in England. The service is free, confidential and independent. They will help you go through the best options for clearing your debt problems. The specialist advice that they give over the telephone is backed up with written self-help materials which they can send out to you for free.

You can access their website by clicking here.

Telephone: 0808 808 4000 Monday – Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday 9.30am-1pm

They also provide downloadable guides to dealing with your debt, for more information go to their website: www.nationaldebtline.org

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Pay Plan

Payplan also offer free debt help and solutions which includes free debt management plans and Individual Voluntary Arrangements or IVAs.

They run a free debt advice line 0800 280 2816 from 8am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays.

They also have a lot of information on their website to help you get debt free, to access this click here.

Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against Poverty have offices in Folkestone and Maidstone, they are a national debt counselling service and offer free debt advice to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs. If you live in Folkestone or Maidstone they may be able to come to your home, if not you may have to travel to your nearest centre.

To find out more click here to visit their website.

Telephone: 0800 328 0006

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Money Saving Expert Mental Health and Debt Guide

The majority of information above has been adapted from the Money Saving Expert guide to Mental Health and Debt, the guide itself contains a lot of in-depth information such as:

  • stories of how other people have taken control of their debt
  • handy tools and tips
  • how to stop debt collectors hassling
  • dealing with emergency issues such as court cases, bailiffs and repossession
  • talking to the bank
  • debts and the Mental Capacity Act
  • how to deal with your spending if you are bipolar
  • cutting the costs of all of your debt

To access the complete guide click here.

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