Managing your money

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3. What are priority debts

The consequences of not paying off some debts before others can be serious.

Use the Money Advice Service Debt Health Check to help you prioritise your debts and work out a plan to tackle your money problems.

So if you’re struggling to make your repayments on time, you need to look at all of your debts and split them into:

  • debt emergencies
  • priority debts
  • non priority debts

Priority debts are those that carry the most serious consequences if you don't pay them.

These don't have to be the largest or debts with the most expensive interest rates, but if you don't pay them it could lead to serious problems.

Priority debts include:

Type of Priority Debt     Consequences of non-payment 
Mortgage or secured loan Eviction/Homelessness 
Rent Eviction/Homelessness 
Council tax A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage or benefit, debt secured against your home, bankruptcy, imprisonment 
Child maintenance Money taken from wage or benefits, visit from bailiffs, imprisonment
Magistrates Court Fine Money taken from wage or benefits, visit from bailiffs, imprisonment
Tax, VAT or National Insurance  A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage or benefit, bankruptcy, County Court Judgement
County Court Judgement A visit from bailiffs, money taken from wage or benefit, a charging order
Gas or electricity Disconnection, money taken from benefits
TV Licence Substantial fine and court costs