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Get help with bills

This advice applies to England

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, there are specific things you can do to sort out your finances.

Check what benefits or grants you can get

If you're missing out on a benefit you're entitled to then you're not getting money that could make a real difference to your income.

Check whether you're eligible for any benefits by using a benefits calculator on the GOV.UK website.

Money from grants

There are grants available based on where you live and your working background. Use the Turn2us checker to search for grants and apply. Grants don’t have to be paid back.

Work out your budget to manage your money

An important step towards getting control of your finances is finding out what you have coming in and going out each month.

Use our budgeting tool to help you work this out.

The results will:

  • show you what you have left each month to settle any debts, or to set aside
  • give you advice on where you could cut costs

Whenever your life changes you should use the budgeting tool again to get up-to-date advice.

Clear rent arrears

It's more important to deal with rent arrears than other spending debts like credit cards, as you could lose your home.

You'll need to know how much you can offer to pay off to clear the arrears. Use our budgeting tool to work this out if you're not sure what you can afford, then read our advice on how to deal with your landlord.

Sort out your Council Tax

Ask your council to spread your Council Tax over 12 months instead of the usual 10 if you're starting to struggle with the payments. This will reduce the amount you pay each month.

If you’re already in arrears, you need to act quickly. Read our advice on dealing with Council Tax arrears and how to get help.

Check if you should get a discount

You can reduce your overall bill by getting a discount on your Council Tax if you:

  • live on your own
  • live only with someone who's under 17 or a full-time student
  • live with someone with mental health problems
  • live with someone who is severely disabled
  • earn below a certain amount of money - this depends on where you live

You can check and apply online.

Check your Council Tax band is right

Your bill might be higher than it should be if your property is in the wrong Council Tax band.

Follow the steps on the MoneySavingExpert website to check. If the band is changed and your bill is reduced, you’ll also get back the money you've overpaid since you moved in.

Manage loan repayments

Don't be tempted to get another loan to pay off one you already have.

If you can’t afford your current living costs or debts each month, borrowing more isn't going to change this. In fact, it could make the situation worse.

The most important thing for you to do is work out your budget. This will show you where you can cut costs and increase your income. It will also give you a better idea of the options you have for dealing with your debts.

You must deal with things like mortgage or rent arrears, Council Tax arrears and energy bills before loans. This is because the consequences for not paying these are more serious.

It's still important to speak to your loan provider and explain your situation to stop it getting worse.

Read our advice on how to deal with your creditors to see what you can do.

Deal with credit card debts

Credit card debt can build up quickly and be very worrying, but it's important to first sort out any other debts like arrears on your mortgage, energy bills or Council Tax. This is because the immediate consequences of not paying these things are much more serious.

It's still important to speak to your card provider and explain your situation to stop it getting worse.

Read our advice on how to deal with your creditors. It tells you how to ask your credit card provider to freeze the interest and hold off taking any other action against you while you deal with other debt.

Reduce your interest charges

If you're managing to pay off credit card bills at the moment but are worried about interest charges, switching could help you save money.

Transferring your balance to a card with 0% interest means you just have to pay off the current amount with no additional interest, as long as you don’t add anything new to it. This will cost you less than increasing your credit limit on your current card.

Several websites offer credit card comparison tools, so you can find the best one for your situation.

Deal with gas, electric or water bills

If you've got a gas or electric bill you can’t pay, you should contact your supplier to help you sort out a payment plan that works for you. They must help you do this and you can get help from your local Citizens Advice if they don't.

You can also read about benefits and grants that are available to help with energy bills.

To cut your future bills you should make sure you're on the best deal you can get. Use our price comparison tool to check.

You can also find out about other ways to save money on your bills in the long term.

Water bills

If you can't pay your current bill, read our advice on how to negotiate with your water company. Most water companies have hardship schemes or other ways to help customers who talk to them about problems.

If you can pay now but want to reduce your future bills, check how you could pay less.

Manage mortgage payments

You need to talk to your mortgage lender straight away if you're struggling to pay your mortgage.

Read our advice on how to deal with your mortgage provider.

Don't put this off. It's important to do it as soon as possible to stop your lender beginning court action against you.

If you've already received court papers, you need to get immediate help and advice. Contact your local Citizens Advice and they will help you.

Mortgage interest help if you're on benefits

You can apply for help with the interest payments on your mortgage if you get:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit

Find out more about Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) if you get one or more of these benefits.

SMI can't help with missed mortgage payments. If you're already in arrears, read our advice on what to do about mortgage debt.

Reduce your regular mortgage payments

If you're not in arrears but are worried about your regular mortgage payments, look at our advice on cutting your mortgage costs. You might be able to temporarily reduce your monthly payments, or even switch to a better deal.

Further help

If you've got lots of different debts and don't know how to deal with them or what to do first, read our advice on how to sort out your debts

If you have mental health problems - or care for someone who does - the free Mental Health and Debt Guide on the MoneySavingExpert website might be useful to you. It offers tips and small steps to cut your debt.

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