Dealing with money issues can be stressful and it can be hard to know where to turn for support. NHG have partnered with Debt Free London to provide free, confidential debt advice to London residents of any tenure.
Funded by Money and Pensions Service, Debt Free London provide a one-to-one debt advice service to help Londoners with their debt and money problems. Trained and accredited advisors based across 26 partner charities assist with all types of debts and money worries ranging from rent and council tax arrears to loans and credit card debt. Advisers work with clients to prioritise debts, write letters to negotiate repayments with creditors and can advocate on residents’ behalf.
Jessica* a tenant living in Camden had to stop working when she became seriously ill. She was very worried about how she was going to pay her rent and bills, including two credit cards and a loan totalling £11,500. She claimed Universal Credit to cover her rent but started to fall behind with her bills. She also had minor rent arrears but struggled to keep up with her existing arrangement as credit card companies were pressurising her to pay.
Debt Free London helped Jessica complete an income and expenditure sheet and advised that her rent and utility bills were her priorities. Initially, Debt Free London helped make token offers of £1 per month to her non-priority creditors. They assisted Jessica to apply for a grant to clear her utility debt and arranged affordable repayment plans with her landlord.
After a couple of months, it was clear Jessica’s health was not improving and she was going to be unemployed for a long time. Debt Free London supported Jessica to apply to the Insolvency Service for a Debt Relief Order (DRO) as her debts were less than £20,000 and she didn’t own a car or house. A DRO freezes debt repayments and interest for 12 months after which debts are written off if your financial situation hasn’t changed.
Jessica now has peace of mind and is able to sleep better. She’s able to budget more effectively as she doesn’t need to use any of her benefits to pay credit cards.
*name changed for the purpose of the article
What is a priority debt?
Priority debts include rent, mortgage, council tax, utilities, magistrate court fines, child maintenance and TV licence. Failure to pay your non-priority payments can result in serious consequences such as losing a home or having utilities cut off.
It is really important these payments are paid first, ahead of any non-priority credit cards, catalogue debts or doorstep lenders. A debt adviser can help divide debts into priority and non-priority and talk residents through their options.
How to get help?
NHG residents who live in London can call a free, dedicated Debt Advice Line on 0800-808-5702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lines are open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm. Advice is confidential and provided by Debt Free London.
For help if you live outside of London, contact the Money Advice Service.