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During these difficult financial times, it’s important to manage your money effectively, especially if you have a tight weekly budget.

Some things have to be paid every month, as the results of not paying them can be very serious. These bills are classed as ‘priority bills’ 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.

Type of debt Consequence of non-payment
Mortgage Losing your home
Rent Losing your home
Secured loan Losing your home
Council tax or rates A visit from bailiffs, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
Magistrates court fines A visit from bailiffs, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
Tax, VAT or National Insurance A visit from bailiffs, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
County court judgements A visit from bailiffs, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
Child maintenance A fine, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
TV Licence A fine, attachment of earnings order, or imprisonment
Gas / Electric / Other fuel Loss of goods or services
Hire purchase Loss of goods or services
Telephone Loss of goods or services

Table source: StepChange Debt Charity

A budget plan will help you manage your spending and plan for any unexpected emergencies. Download our Debt Advice booklet from Related documents which contains a budget planning tool.

If you need help creating a budget plan or to check that you are receiving all the benefits you're  entitled to, advice is available from these sources:

  • The Money Advice Service website which contains free independent advice. You can also phone them on: 0300 5005000.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau offer independent, free and impartial advice - you can check where your local bureau is and what times they are open at the Citizens Advice Bureau website - see related links.
  • Use money comparison websites. They can help you shop around for the best deals for many items including insurancve, utility bills, mobile phones and internet bills. Two websites are: www.moneysupermarket.com and www.uswitch.com
  • At West Kent we have a specialist advisor, the HERO Officer. HERO stands for Housing, Energy, Retraining and Advice. The HERO officer is available on Thursdays at the West Kent, Sevenoaks office. There are also regular surgeries at Swanley, Hartley and Edenbridge. Contact 01732 749400 for more information and to make an appointment.
  • Check you are getting all the benefits you are enititled to. There is a budget calculator on some websites including www.direct.gov.uk

More information is available in the related websites links.

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