GUEST COLUMNIST: CAB manager explains how to handle financial woes head on

Tips to tackle debt
Tips to tackle debt

I’ve been struggling with my finances for a while, and now it’s got to the point where I can’t afford bills like council tax or my mortgage. I’m worried I might have to sell my home. What can I do?

The month after Christmas can be particularly tough with extra expenses over the festive period putting even more pressure on household budgets. Don’t panic. With the right help there are ways to get on top of your outstanding bills.

Firstly, the earlier you get help with debt problems the easier it is to get them sorted. Trying to carry on as if everything is normal can make things worse, as debts can pile up quickly. Letting your creditors, like your mortgage company or local council, know if you will be unable to pay them is key. Creditors should consider reasonable repayment plans and may be able to offer you more time to pay.

It’s important that you prioritise paying certain debts, such as the rent, mortgage or energy bills, first to keep a roof over your head and the heating on. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get support through benefits, so it is worth checking this with the Department for Work and Pensions. If you are unable to pay your council tax debt your local authority may agree to let you pay a reduced payment over a longer period, but you will have to keep paying your bills going forward.

Drawing up a proper budget of your expenses can help identify areas you can cut down on. Before you turn to a loan to cover costs, think carefully and find out what this means for any future repayments and interest.

Drop into the office in the Town Hall, Bank Road Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm for more.