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Priority debts- who should I pay first?

14th April 2016

“I recently lost my job and fell behind on several bills. I’m back in work and keen to start paying off my debts, but can’t afford to pay them all straight away.

What should I pay off first?”

First off, draw up a list of who you owe money to, how much you owe, and which of these are ‘priority debts’.

Priority debts include your rent or mortgage, gas and electric, and council tax. These debts should always be paid first as delaying payment can have serious consequences such as having your energy supply cut off, or losing your home. You can use any spare income to tackle your credit cards and personal loans. 

To work out exactly how much you can afford to repay, you’ll need to compare your monthly income to your essential outgoings and see how much money you’ve got leftover to put towards your debts. Citizens Advice has an online budget tool which can be found at under ‘Debt and Money’.

You’re now ready to start negotiations with your creditor. Put together a letter - otherwise known as a “financial statement” - explaining why your ability to repay has been affected, including a full breakdown of your monthly income and outgoings and what you think you can pay.

Send this letter to your creditors and they will use the information to help settle an affordable repayment plan with you.

For more guidance on putting together your budget and financial statement visit your local Citizens Advice.  

Copyright Torridge, North, Mid and West DevonCitizens Advice. For the most up-to-date advice, please visit, pop into your local office or call Adviceline on 03444 111 444


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