Debt Support

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Debt causes worry and stress for many if not millions of people.

When there is not a plan for dealing with debt, or there is not a certain plan, it can cause anxiety, depression and other symptoms that affect your mental health.

Feeling stressed when dealing with debt is NOT a sign of weakness. It is perfectly natural.

It’s a natural human reaction that can be made easier to face with the right support.

Dealing with the debt and ensuring you are in a positive and healthy state is key.

If you are struggling with your mental health there are people available to listen, help and support you, such as:

If you are worried about debt:

  • The National Debtline is an ideal place to start. They provide free debt advice, provide free template letters, guides, booklets and information.
  • Don’t suppress or ignore the negative emotion. The emotion is trying to deliver a message, whether that be to research, change perception or implement the right plan and take action.
  • Set some quiet time aside and research all your concerns and review the great insight online. We recommend the The National Debtline, but there are many great websites in this area such as, The Citizens Advice Bureau and Stepchange are fantastic websites with lots of great information and guidance.
  • Look for role models. Even if this is online. Who has had similar debt problems to me and overcome them? There are millions of people who have been struggling with debt who have taken the right advice and put in place a plan which worked for them. Learn and be inspired by their stories.
  • Focus on progress. It is unrealistic to expect anything to change over night or there be a magic wand. Little by little, brick by brick, with the right advice, and the right steps, you will make progress.

I am being chased / have received court papers

Post & Communication

It is totally understandable that opening the post every day when you are struggling with debt is not as easy as it sounds. When you know, or suspect, the content of letters is not going to be pleasant it is a natural reaction to want to ignore the post.

However, you can handle whatever is in the post and there are resources and people at hand to help regardless of what the letters say.

The situation can’t be solved without a plan, and there can’t be a plan without information.

Creating delays by ignoring correspondence will not make the situation go away.

Creditors often get ignored and this often upsets them as much, if not more so, than the money owed.
Most creditors seek good levels of communication, which are not common in debt situations.

Take the time to review the correspondence, assess the situation using all the tools you have available to research the situation, and speak to the charities referenced above.

Often speaking with the creditors, being transparent, and putting forward a plan will be enough to agree an amicable solution.

You might be able to stop them taking you to court if you agree to pay some of the money back.

Reply to the claim as early as possible, even if you disagree you owe the debt.

If you don’t reply, you might be taken to court for a debt you don’t owe. It will be harder to challenge the decision at this stage and might end up costing you money to correct it. While you’re responding you can also check your options for getting out of debt.

If you’re taken to court, a court order will be made. This will say how much you need to pay and when you need to pay by.

If you can’t afford to pay you should still make an offer to repay some of the debt. Even an offer of £1 is better than offering nothing.

Court action

Your creditor must send you documents before taking you to court. If they haven’t, you might be able to challenge this.

There will be an agreement which says what you and your creditor agree to.

Often you’ll be covered by the Consumer Credit Act. If you’re not sure, find out if your credit agreement is covered by the Consumer Credit Act.

If your agreement is covered by the Consumer Credit Act, your creditor must follow all 3 steps of the process before taking you to court for debt.

Your creditor must send you a:

  • default notice
  • letter of claim
  • claim pack

If your agreement isn’t covered by the Consumer Credit Act, your creditor doesn’t have to send you a default notice. Your creditor will still send you a letter of claim and a claim pack.

If you feel your creditor hasn’t acted properly, you might be able to challenge the claim against you. For example, if your creditor hasn’t warned you of the debt or they’ve started legal action too quickly.

1. Default notice

The default notice includes details of what payments you missed and how long you have to pay. Your creditor must give you at least 2 weeks. If you make the missed payments, your creditor won’t take any further action.

The default notice also includes a fact sheet from the Financial Conduct Authority which explains your rights.

2. Letter of claim

Your creditor will have sent you a ‘letter of claim’ because they want to start legal action.

This gives you 30 days to reply.

The letter of claim should have come with:

  • a ‘reply form’ – use this form to say if you agree you owe the debt or say you need more time
  • a ‘standard financial statement’ – use this to make an offer of payment if you can’t afford to pay the debt in full
  • details of advice organisations
  • an information sheet explaining how you and your creditor should act

3. Claim pack

If your creditor has started legal action, the court will have sent you a ‘claim pack’.

You’re given 2 weeks to reply to your creditor from the day you receive the claim pack.

You should always check they documents are genuine. The form name should be at the top and the form number in the bottom right corner.

If you’ve received a County Court Judgment and this is the first document you’ve got about the debt, you might be able to apply to cancel it – this is called ‘setting aside’ the judgment.

Handling court proceedings

If you receive court proceedings we would recommend you contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau and review the guidance on their website which you can access here

There are plenty of options available and fantastic resources available online to assist you handle the proceedings in the best way possible.

Solicitors will require payment for reviewing correspondence and assisting in defending/responding to any claim, which is far from ideal.

If you do speak with solicitors always ensure you obtain quotes for the work and do not incur any fees without realising it.

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