Priority and non-priority debts

Some debts are more important than others and being aware of which debts should take priority can help you to keep your home.

Priority debts

Some debts are called priority debts because they can cause you serious problems if you do not pay them.

Priority debts include:

  • Rent; gas and electricity debts; council tax; certain payments ordered by the courts
  • Child support and maintenance payments are also considered priority debts, as are payments for your TV licence.

The consequences of not paying a priority debt can include:

  • Losing your home
  • Your electricity supply being cut off or being forced to agree to an expensive prepayment meter being installed
  • Losing belongings on hire purchase such as a car, furniture or other goods
  • Magistrates court fines or even going to prison.

That’s why it makes sense to prioritise your rent because it is your most important monthly payment. If you fall behind with your rent do not ignore it, talk to your Customer Accounts Officer straight away and explain why you cannot pay.  They will discuss with you a way of paying off the arrears and agree a payment plan.

Non- priority debts

Credit card, bank overdraft, store cards payday loans, benefit over payments and unsecured personal loans etc are non- priority and failing to pay them would not lead to loss of your home, liberty or essential goods or services.  It is important that you deal with them because your credit may be affected or you could be taken to court if you miss contractual monthly repayments.