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IMPORTANT NOTICE: Information on this website is subject to change at short notice due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

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Coping with debt

Whatever the reason money matters can sometimes get out of control and you may unexpectedly find yourself in debt.

Debts can be worrying, but you can get advice and information to help you deal with the situation and prevent it becoming more difficult.

What you can do

If you find yourself in financial difficulties or with a debt or bill you can't pay right away, here are a few things you can do:

  • Speak to the company or organisation you owe money to, and see if they are able to postpone payment until a later date, or arrange a way for you to pay off what you owe in smaller instalments over a period of time (called a payment plan). The sooner you call them and explain the situation, the more likely they are to be able to help - so don't put it off.

  • Speak to your bank to see if they can help, for example by temporarily extending your overdraft limit so you can make the payments - but make sure you understand any fees or interest they charge for doing this, and when you will need to pay it back.

  • If you claim benefits, you may be able to apply for a Budgeting Advance/Loan to pay off the debt. This is an interest-free loan, but you will still need to pay it back at a later date.

  • Speak to a free Debt Advice service.  You don't need to struggle alone with your debt worries and an experienced debt advisor can help you find ways to manage your finances and clear your debts. 

Support for all

Food poverty, social isolation and unemployment are sadly affecting a lot of people across the UK at the moment. Some people end up being unable to afford to buy food for themselves and their loved ones. There are some organisations out there who can help if you find yourself in this situation.

The Trussell Trust  foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. In some areas they will only provide food following a referral from a health or social care professional - check your local food bank for details. 
Foodbanks in the local area include:

FoodCycle is a UK charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

The Food Chain exists to ensure people living with HIV in London can access the nutrition they need to get well, stay well and lead healthy, independent lives.
They deliver meals and groceries, offer cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities to people living with HIV in London and their dependents. 

Olio is one of a new range of smartphone apps which connects local shops (big or small) and neighbours to smartphone users who distribute unsold food at the end of the day to reduce food wastage.  Download on your smartphone and see what is available for you to pick up today. No referral required. 

Support in Westminster

The North Paddington Foodbank uses cash and food donations from businesses and ordinary people to provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in North Paddington.

Support in Kensington and Chelsea

The following venues may be able to offer emergency meals:-

The West London People's Kitchen at the Goldfinger Factory regularly collect surplus produce from local greengrocers and use it to cook up a delicious community feast on the third Sunday of every month. You can lend a hand in the kitchen from 3pm, or come and enjoy a tasty pay-what-you-want meal from 6:30pm

The Dalgarno Trust run their Foodbank every Thursday.  People can register and collect tickets from 10am and then the food is distributed between 2pm and 3pm. For more information, call on 0208 969 6300 or email reception@dalgarnotrust.org.uk

If you think you need to take legal action in relation to a debt issue then you can get more information on our Obtaining legal advice page. 

General

Our pages on Grants and Charity Payments offers advice on how you can access charities and other organisations who may be able to offer support.

The Money Advice Service website contains information on managing debt and on borrowing, as well as on all sorts of other money matters.

Gov.uk has lots of information and advice on dealing with debts and arrears. This includes what to do and who to contact about mortgage and rent arrears, overdue bills, bank overdrafts, loan sharks and other debts. You do not have to give any personal details about yourself or your situation.

The Step Change Debt Charity offers expert advice, budget support and solutions to help you manage your debts.

Crosslight Advice offer free face-to-face debt advice, financial education, practical assistance and ongoing support to anyone who needs it regardless of background, faith or circumstance.

The National Debtline is a national telephone helpline for people with debt problems, run by the Money Advice Trust charity. The service is free, confidential and independent. You can phone the free advice line on 0808 808 4000.

The Debt Advice Foundation is a national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about debt.
It offers a free online tool to help you analyse, manage and plan your debt, and negotiate with your creditors.

Payplan provides telephone advice and can help you set up a debt management plan.

You can get general information and advice on money problems from Citizens Advice. Local Citizens Advice branches can give you advice and help with your personal situation.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (based in Birmingham but supporting people in Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea) offer specialist advice to people who have been the victims of illegal loan sharks - these are people who have lent you money without a licence to do so, and often charge huge interest rates and use threatening behaviour when getting the money back.
Contact the team:-
   Phone - 0300 555 2222
   E-mail: reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
   Text to: loan(space)shark(space) + your message to 60003

Organisations like Emmaus and Rework refurbish and sell used furniture and household goods at low prices.

Freecycle UK and Freegle are online bulletin boards where people can advertise unwanted items, including clothes, furniture, toys and household goods, to be collected for free. You can also post 'Wanted' messages requesting items.

MSE’s Academy of Money - Free course to give you the skills and knowledge to master your finances. The course was written by The  Open University, with MoneySavingExpert providing support and guidance.

Friends of the Elderly offers one-off grants to older people to cover the costs of replacing furniture and household goods, as well as the costs of household repairs and adaptations, utility bills, and mobility aids.

Disability Grants UK is a website listing charitable organisations offering grants to disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, to cover the costs of mobility aids, household goods, rent, bills and unexpected expenses.

The Advance Advocacy Project support women who are experiencing a variety of of different issues, including problems with debt.

Credit Unions offer financial services to the local community fostering a saving mentality and offer a cheaper way to borrow money than Payday loans company. These are Credit Unions who operate in our boroughs:

Kensington and Chelsea

Nucleus offer confidential and free legal advice and assistance to people living in Kensington and Chelsea on a variety of issues, including debt.

Westminster

If you would like to receive independent advice on money and benefits, accessing care and support, legal issues, housing,  your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact the WestminsterCAB

Westminster Council's Trailblazer Service can provide confidential advice on a range of concerns including housing, tenancy, finance, benefits and mental wellbeing.  
Phone: 020 7641 5021
Email: trailblazer@westminster.gov.uk

Westminster Chapel Debt Management Service is a Money Advice Service for anyone who is in debt and needs help and support to better manage their finances and liaise with their creditors.  

Hammersmith & Fulham

Staying First has a debt and welfare benefits service for people living in Fulham which provides free independent and confidential advice. They can help with benefits entitlement or problems, representation at tribunals, negotiating with creditors or baliffs and advice on money management.