Your local Shelter advice centre may be able to help if you're worried about debt. Many of our local services provide specialist help with debt and welfare benefits issues as well as housing.
Help from Shelter advice services
Many Shelter advice services offer specialist debt advice services for people on low incomes who qualify for legal aid. You may qualify for legal aid if you claim benefits such as income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance or pension credit, or your income is assessed as being low.
Contact the Civil Legal Advice helpline for more information and to check if you are eligible for legal aid.
Shelter's debt advice services may be able to help you with debt problems including dealing with:
- rent arrears
- mortgage arrears
- utility bill debts – gas, electricity and water
- debt collection companies or creditors
- hire purchase, credit card or loan arrears
Other debt advice services
Debt advice services are also available from:
- the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm)
- Step Change Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm)
- the Debt Advice Foundation on 0800 043 4050 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm)
- Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 (Monday to Friday 9am to 6.30pm)
- Community Money Advice
These agencies all provide free services and their websites have useful information about what to do if you get into debt. Their specialist debt advisers can make a full financial assessment and help you work out a plan to clear your debts and cover your living expenses.
You can also get face-to face debt advice from agencies such as Citizen's Advice and independent advice agencies.
Get advice immediately if you are a homeowner with mortgage arrears or facing repossession. Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a local adviser.
How an adviser can help
The best option for dealing with your debts will depend on your personal circumstances. A specialist debt adviser may be able to help you to:
- manage your income and expenditure and work out your options
- explain the steps you have to take to keep your debts to a minimum
- produce a detailed summary of your finances to show that you have very little money available to repay the debt
- organise and prioritise payments of any other debts you have
An adviser can also explain the reasons for your financial problems to your lender (and/or insurer if you have an endowment mortgage), and negotiate with the lender to make the debt more manageable.
Use AdviceGuide's budget tool to help you manage your money.
Problems with loans advertised on TV or online
Some advertisements by private companies sound too good to be true, and they usually are.
Avoid companies that say they offer an immediate, easy solution or target customers aggressively. Their loans usually involve very high interest rates.
You could be asked to secure these loans against your home, putting your home at risk if you can't keep up the payments.