Daily Mirror

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

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If you cannot pay off all your debts, divide them into priority and lower priority debts, suggests Citizens Advice.

Priority debts can cause you particular­ly serious problems if you don’t do anything about them, so deal with them first.

Mortgage and rent are priority debts, as you could lose the roof over your head if you don’t maintain them.

Council tax arrears are also a priority, because your local council might take you to a magistrate’s court if you don’t pay out.

Your energy supplier may cut off your gas and electricit­y if you don’t pay your bill, making these a priority, too.

Phone and internet, TV licence payments, court fines and HP payments are also priority debts. As are income tax, National Insurance or VAT, overpaid tax credits and child maintenanc­e. Credit card or store card debts are lower priority debts, as are catalogue debts and unsecured loans including payday loans.

Don’t simply stop making these payments but talk to your card issuer to draw up a repayment plan.

Unpaid water bills are lower priority because unlike gas and electricit­y, your supplier can’t cut off your water supply due to health reasons.

If you have been overpaid any state benefits these are lower priority, with the exception of tax credits.

Unpaid parking tickets, typically called Penalty Charge Notices or Parking Charge Notices, are lower priority, Citizens Advice says, as is money you might owe to family and friends.

This doesn’t mean you can’t afford to let them slide, only put off paying them if you have no choice.

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