- Make a list of all your debts and put them in order of priority
- write down all your income and expenses - then see how much you've got to pay your debts
- work out how much you can afford to pay to each creditor (a person or organisation you owe money to)
- seek advice from a debt advice agency such as Christians Against Poverty (CAP), Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Money Advice Service, National Debtline, Payplan, or Stepchange.
- visit CAB online debt advice guide
- most importantly, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender - try to reach an agreement about paying off the arrears, but don't agree to pay more than you can afford. One way to do this is through an agreed debt management plan
- contact housing services.
Rent arrears are 'priority debts', which means the consequences of not dealing with them are serious - you could be evicted. Even if you have other debts, make sure you prioritise your rent and council tax payments. If you are evicted because you have paid for non priority debts or items instead of your rent, the council may not provide somewhere else for you to live and may only give you limited advice and assistance.
Help with paying your rent
If you're on a low income, or having financial problems, check if you qualify for any benefits - such as housing benefit, help with council tax or tax credits. You don't have to be out of work to claim benefits and you could qualify for more than one.
Even if you already receive housing benefit, if it doesn't cover your rent you could apply for extra help - called discretionary housing payment.
You can contact NHAS (National Homelessness Advice Service) who offer mortgage debt advice.
Ensure that you discuss with your lender whether there are any options which may help the situation, such as adding arrears to your outstanding mortgage, extending your mortgage term, taking a payment holiday, or changing your mortgage. Make sure you know what your monthly mortgage payment is meant to be, how much your arrears are and work out how much you can afford to pay taking into account any other debts that you may already have. If you can't make the full monthly mortgage payment, offer to pay what you can afford to show your good faith. Compile a financial statement as your lender is likely to want to see this. The debt advice agencies listed above could help you with this.
If you are a homeowner and receiving any of the following:
- income support
- income based job seekers allowance
- income related employment and support allowance
- universal credit
- pension credit
you may be entitled to help towards your mortgage interest payments, called support for mortgage interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage (£100,000 if you receive pension credit). Unless you receive pension credit, there may be a waiting period after you apply before you would be given this help (usually 9 months).
The earlier you act, the more likely that there will be options for you to stay in your home and take control of your finances, or move to something more affordable in a planned way.
Parashoot offer Tenancy support to people living in the borough who are at risk of losing their homes. Please contact housing services if you would like us to refer you to Parashoot.
There’s a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap. If you are not working/not receiving working tax credit, or not receiving a specific benefit which exempts you, you are likely to be affected.
The benefit cap was reduced further as of 7 November 2016. Couples and families are now entitled to a maximum of £384 per week in all benefits (including income support, job seekers allowance, employment and support allowance, child tax credit, child benefit, housing benefit, universal credit). Single people will be entitled to £257 per week. If you are affected by the benefit cap, it will be applied to your housing benefit entitlement and your housing benefit entitlement will then be reduced. Or if you receive universal credit, the housing element of your universal credit entitlement will be reduced. This means that if you are affected by the cap you could get into arrears with your rent.
There is a list of benefits which aren’t affected by the benefit cap. You won't be affected by the cap if you or a member of your household is receiving any of these benefits. If you are suffering from an illness or disability and aren’t receiving any of these benefits, you may be entitled to apply. Apply online or seek advice from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB).
If you are not entitled to any of the benefits which aren’t affected by the benefit cap, you need to be working. You need to work 30 hours per week if you are single or a couple, 16 hours per week if you are a single parent with children, 24 hours per week if you are a couple with children (one of you must work at least 16 hours per week). If you receive universal credit, you will need to earn more than £430 per month after income tax and national insurance so that you are not affected by the benefit cap.
Applying for social housing through the council's housing needs register is unlikely to stop you from being affected by the benefit cap. Most rents in social housing are similar to private rented sector rents in the area, therefore you are likely to still be affected if you are in social housing and not working. We can help you to find work to that you are not affected by the benefit cap.
If you are looking for work or additional work to help your financial situation, the ETHOS project provide advice, guidance and support with learning and skills for employment. This includes, writing CVs, searching and applying for jobs, courses or training and advice on interview techniques. If you wish to make an appointment please complete the online referral form.
ETHOS also run a weekly job hub. Laptops and internet access is provided at the job hub so that people can apply for jobs, search for training/courses and create CVs. Anyone living in the borough is welcome to attend.
Epsom and Ewell Foodbank can provide three days' emergency food to those in crisis. The council, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and children's centres can provide foodbank vouchers to those who need them.