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1 Self-help guide... DEBT Dealing with DEBT abc IN TRAN communication for all

2 Where to get ADVICE on debt problems If you feel that you have money problems that are too difficult to sort out without help from a money advisor you can get debt advice from the organisations listed below. Norfolk DebtLine (part of the CAb) Norfolk Debtline is part of the CAB and is a Norfolk based debt advice service. This service is free, confidential, impartial and independent. You should contact them by telephone in the first instance on (01603) during opening hours which are: Monday to Thursday 10am - 3pm Alternatively you can arrange to see an advisor face to face by calling (01603) There is also useful information on their website - visit: Consumer Credit Counselling service The Consumer Credit Counselling Service also offer a free telephone based advice service for people in debt. You can telephone them on or you can find out more on their website - visit: Norfolk Community Law service This service is available to offenders, ex-offenders and their families throughout Norfolk. This service is free and confidential. Appointments Monday to Friday 9.30am - 5pm. Tel: (01603) or you can find out more on their website - visit: Wherry tenants debt advice If you are a Wherry tenant with debt problems contact us on: Tel: broadland District Council Council housing advice and homeless prevention. Tel: (01603) /430617/ housing the Help shop, taverham Tel: (01603) Open: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10am - 4pm, Wednesday pm Page 2

3 Dealing with DEBT We want to help people tackle debt problems The Council understands that people can have difficulties with debt problems. There can be many different reasons which are very often beyond their control such as loss of a job, arrival of a new born or sudden illness. Dealing with debt can seem difficult. Very often just taking the first steps can help solve problems that may otherwise become more serious if neglected. If you don t feel able to tackle debt problems yourself, you should seek help or advice from one of the organisations on page 2. If you have problems specifically related to council tax arrears, please contact Broadland District Council helpline on (01603) or , This guide is intended to help people deal with debt themselves or to know where to go to get help. The main thing is to confront your debt problems. Whether council tax is your biggest debt, or part of the problem, if you don t keep in control of your finances you will find it hard to cope. IN TRAN communication for all If you need this information in large print, audio, Braille, alternative format or in a different language please telephone (01603) and we ll do our best to help. Page 3

4 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE... the Golden rules of dealing with debts Don t ignore your debts - they won t go away on their own. Talk to your creditors (people you owe money to) about problems with paying - if you don t keep them fully informed they will just keep chasing you for payment. Keep copies of any letters or s you send to creditors. Make sure you ask for written confirmation of any arrangement you make with your creditors. Tell your creditors if your circumstances change for example if you lose your job or your income drops drastically. Don t ignore your creditors or ignore their letters - they will only take more drastic action to get payments from you. Don't go to a fee-charging debt management company - if your finances are stretched, why pay for a service that is available for free (none of the organisations listed on page 2 charge). Don't borrow more money as a way of dealing with your debts without taking advice - further borrowing is rarely a good solution the 4 steps for dealing with debt The best way to deal with debts is to put them in order of priority and then draw up a budget planner to help you organise payments to creditors (people you owe money to). There are a number of steps that will help: Set aside some quiet time so that you can sit down and go through your papers to get a full list of what income you have coming in and who you owe money to. That s the only way to work out a sensible way to deal with your debts. Try and gather together all of your bills, they will have the details of your creditors and reference numbers that your creditors will need when you contact them. Make a complete list of all of your income. Make sure you include wages, child benefit, child tax credit, working tax credit, any state benefits for example incapacity benefit or income support. Work out which are your Priority and which are your Non priority debts. Some debts are more important than others and are known as Priority debts. These are the debts where the creditor has certain powers to make you pay back the money you owe to them. The table opposite lists Priority debts and shows what could happen if you don t pay them. Page 4

5 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE... Dealing with DEBT Priority debts Mortgage Secured loan Rent Council tax Fines and maintenance payments Gas and electricity Tax and National Insurance What if you don t pay? Eviction Eviction Eviction Bailiffs/imprisonment Court action/imprisonment Disconnection Court action/imprisonment As you can see, these are priority debts as they could lead to you losing your home or being sent to prison. This makes them more important than non priority debts. Non Priority debts Unsecured loans Store cards Credit cards Catalogue debts Bank overdraft Social fund loans What if you don t pay? County court judgement based on your ability to pay. If you are not sure whether a debt is a priority or not, please seek advice. 4 You are well on your way now to working out how to deal with your debts. You should now have a complete list of: Your income. Your priority debts. Your non-priority debts. You can use the budget planner in the centre pages of this booklet to list all of your income and your outgoings and work out a payment plan. This will help you deal with creditors and will also help you should you ever need to go to court about your debts. Alternatively, you could complete the online budget planner available on the Debtline website at Page 5

6 BUDGET PLANNING... your budget planner - INCOME FIGUrEs Please list your income here. You will need to use either monthly or weekly figures otherwise it gets confusing. Income yourself your partner Earnings Job seekers allowance and/or income support Child benefit Carers allowance State pension Private pension Statutory sick pay Working tax credit Child tax credit Child support and/or maintenance Income from lodgers Any other income (please list) total income (A) (b) total income for yourself and your partner is (A)+(b) from above = (C) You will need to use figure (C) on page 8. Page 6

7 Dealing with DEBT your budget planner - EXPENDItUrE FIGUrEs On this page you will need to enter details of your household expenditure. By expenditure we mean the money that you spend on regular outgoings. you should not include any debts, arrears or credit payments in this part of the booklet, as these will be dealt with later. If you completed the income form using monthly figures - please do the same for expenditure, if you filled it in with weekly figures do the same here. Mortgage 2nd mortgage/secured Loan Service charge/ground rent Council Tax Water Gas Electricity Other fuels (coal, paraffin, oil etc) Endowment/mortgage protection Buildings/contents insurance Life insurance Pensions HP/conditional sale Telephone Mobile phone Vehicle road tax Car insurance Car fuel Bus fares Train fares Food and housekeeping Prescriptions Childcare court orders Clothing/footwear TV licence TV rental/satellite School meals Hair cuts Other expenses (please list) total expenditure (D) You will need to use figure (D) on page 8. Page 7

8 What is left to pay creditors? Now you have worked out your income and regular expenditure you can calculate what is left for creditors by deducting total expenditure (D) from total income (C). Total monthly income (C) (figure from page 6) Minus total monthly expenditure (D) (figure from page 7) = Income available for creditors (E) Working out payments for priority debts At this point you need to contact your priority creditors to make an arrangement to pay back what you owe, we listed priority creditors for you earlier on in the booklet. You may be able to pay extra to them each month for your arrears. Remember priority creditors are the most important of all the people to whom you may owe money. When you write to them quote their reference numbers and ask them not to take any further action whilst you are sorting out your debts. Once you have agreed payments with your priority creditors you will be able to complete the following section: Creditor sheet 1 - Priority debts Arrears Mortgage Secured loan Rent Council tax Fines and maintenance payments Tax and National Insurance Gas and electricity Other utilities Total priority debt payments (F) Payment amount agreed Page 8

9 Dealing with DEBT Dealing with debts for non priority creditors The last part is to decide how much you can pay to non-priority creditors. The way to do this is to deduct the figure (F) from the figure (E) from page 8 to see what is left available for non priority creditors. You then make a payment offer to each non priority creditor based on what you have left at the end of the week or month and what proportion of your total debts you owe to each creditor. This is how to work it out: say you owe: Type of debt Amounts owed Personal loan 1, Store card Catalogue debt total 2, EXAMPLE Now - assuming you have left from your income after allowing for payment of your expenditure and your priority debts. The creditor who you owe most to will get the highest repayment with the next one down getting a smaller payment and the last one getting an even smaller repayment. Here s how to do it In our example, take the personal loan amount and divide it by the overall total owed: 1, divided by 2, = 0.45 Next - you multiply this figure by the amount of your disposable income: 0.45 X = is the amount that you can now offer to the personal loan company. So, in our example you will offer: Personal loan This is the system used by the Store card 7.27 courts for working out what you Catalogue debt 5.58 can reasonably afford to pay and it is accepted by most creditors. Once you have carried out this process you need to write to each non priority creditor with a payment offer. You are advised to send them a copy of your budget planner and a list of your other creditors so they can see that you have worked out the payment offer fairly. What next? If you reach a point where you feel unable to deal with your debt problems you should contact one of the advice agencies listed on page 2 of this booklet. If your problems mainly relate to council tax, then you should talk to the Council as we will do our best to help you. Page 9

10 CUT YOUR COUNCIL TAX Should you be paying less? How could I pay less? Council tax benefit could help pay towards some or all of your council tax bill if you are on a low income, even if you own your own home and whether or not you work. How is council tax benefit worked out? We will work out if you qualify for help taking into account your individual circumstances. This will include your age and whether you live alone. What should I do next? You should apply straight away - council tax benefit is available now. How could I get help with my rent? If you pay rent for your home and are on a low income you may be entitled to housing benefit. What should I do next? You should apply straight away, housing benefit is available now. abc...it costs nothing to find out! How you can obtain a claim form Visit the Council offices at Thorpe Lodge, 1 Yarmouth Road, NR7 0DU. Tel: (01603) or Visit the Council Information Points at Wroxham, Aylsham and Norwich Millennium libraries Visit the Broadland District Council Mobile Information Centre (see timetable details in Broadland News). Also visit us at: Page 10

11 Dealing with DEBT Council tax discounts Do I qualify for a discount? The full council tax assumes there are two or more adults living in a dwelling. If only one adult lives in a dwelling, the council tax is reduced by 25%. People in the following groups may not be liable for council tax and may not count towards the number of adults resident in a dwelling: Full-time students and non British spouses of students, student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees. Patients resident in hospital. People who are being looked after in care homes. People who are severely mentally impaired. dwelling: People who are staying in certain hostels or night shelters. dwelling: 18 and 19 year olds who are at or have just left school. Certain types of care workers, usually working for charities. People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18. Members of religious communities (monks and nuns). People in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine). People with diplomatic privileges or immunities. Members of departments of International Headquarters and Defence organisations. Members and dependents of visiting forces. reduction for the disabled The council tax bill may be reduced for dwellings which have a special room set aside for the needs of a resident disabled person. An extra bathroom or kitchen required by the disabled person or extra space to allow the use of a wheelchair indoors may also qualify. The relief is equivalent to reducing the valuation band to the one below and ensures that disabled people do not pay more because of a need for extra space. The reduction includes band A dwellings. If you think any of these may apply, please call (01603) or Page 11

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