If you are having problems with paying your bills and debts there are many ways you can get help.  If you have money problems then, unless you have a lot of spare income, the last thing you want to do is pay a commercial company to help you sort out your debts and advise you on the best way to deal with them.

If you do a general internet search for help in dealing with your debts the first sites that appear on your search engine will often be organisations that have paid to be at the top of the list.  If they have paid to be there then it is obvious that they are making money out of this business.  This is what it is to them, a business.  To you it is your life.   

In the Oxford area there are many places where you can get help either face to face or over the phone.  You can usually find details of your local advice agencies through your local authority web site, your local library, or your telephone directory.  Independent agencies that give free advice and free help are usually members of Citizen’s Advice or Advice UK.  You should find at least one free advice agency close to where you live.  Sometimes this type of advice is offered through your employer or your Union.

Citizen’s Advice has a web site that provides advice on many subjects including debt.  You can find it at www.adviceguide.org.uk .  It provides good initial advice together with information about the various solutions that could be available to you.  Advice UK also has a web site with some useful information on it.  You can find it at www.adviceuk.org.uk/want-help .

There are National agencies that give free independent assistance over the phone.  These are National Debtline www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/ tel: 0808 808 4000, CCCS www.cccs.co.uk tel: 0800 138 1111 and Payplan www.payplan.com tel: 0800 280 2816.

You should be aware that although advice and debt management plans through these agencies are free, there are some solutions that you would have to pay for wherever you go.  Solutions (check out what they are on www.adviceguide.org.uk ) such as Debt Relief Orders and Bankruptcy have application fees.  Individual Voluntary Arrangements have to be administered by Insolvency Practitioners, so do cost a lot of money.  The difference between Practitioners is whether they ask for the fees up front or take them out of on-going payments.

It is never too early to get advice.  It is better to deal with problems before they become insurmountable.  Don’t wait until you are taking out short term loans to tide you over until the next pay or benefits payment, or worse still the Bailiff is knocking at the door.

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