Working out which debts to pay first
It’s important to understand which bills to pay first, especially if you’re in debt.
While unsecured credit lenders, like pay day lenders, may shout loudest, rent, utility bills and council tax should be paid first. These ensure you continue to have a home and heating.
On this page, we will explain what are priority and non-priority bills and show you what could happen if you don’t pay.
If you’re having problems paying priority bills or debts we can help with expert debt advice.
Priority bills should always be paid first as not paying can lead to serious consequences for you and your family:
|Priority Bills||Consequences of not paying|
|Rent||You could lose your home|
|Council Tax||Fine, imprisonment, money taken direct from wage/benefits or visit from bailiffs|
|Certain payments ordered by the courts||Imprisonment, money taken direct from wage/benefits or visit from bailiffs|
|Gas and electricity||Disconnection, money taken direct from wage / benefits, County Court Judgement|
|Telephone||Disconnection, County Court Judgement|
|Court fines||Fine, money taken direct from wage/benefits or visit from bailiffs|
|Secured loans||County Court Judgement, loss of goods|
|Child maintenance||Fine, imprisonment, money taken direct from wage/benefits or visit from bailiffs|
|Higher Purchase (HP)||You can lose the goods|
Below are classed as non priority bills. Usually the consequence of non-payment of these items is less severe than a priority bill:
- Credit card debts
- Catalogue debt
- Water rates arrears
- Bank overdrafts and loans
- Personal loans with finance companies
- Loans with loan sharks
- Money borrowed from friends and family
- Hire purchase agreements (HP)
- Unsecured bank and payday loans (loans that are not secured against your property)