Priority Debts

What are Priority Debts?

Sometimes the creditors shouting the loudest are not always the ones you should pay first. Generally, priority debts are ones that have bad consequences for you when they are not paid but they might need prioritising for other reasons too. Here are some examples of bad cosequences:

  • Imprisonment
  • Loss of home
  • Loss of essential services
  • Loss of an essential asset, such as a car

For more information, please visit our 'Enforcement of Debts' debt advice topic.

Make sure that you understand the difference between a priority debt and a non-priority debt. Take a look at the types of debts below & see which ones match your situation. You need to start prioritising these debts as soon as possible.

Priority Debt Examples

Housing Costs

Maintain rent, mortgage and secured loan payments. Keeping the roof over your head is essential. If you have arrears with these creditors, negotiate repayments to clear them.

Essential Utility Services

Paying your utility bills for heating, lighting, water and phone, these are essential living costs. If you fall into arrears, stick to a a repayment plan to clear them.

Council Tax

Council tax is a bill that has to be paid by law so it's best to prioritise it in your budget. If you have arrears, these must usually be repaid over a short term, such as 12 months.

Magistrate Court Fines

Magistrate court fines i.e. parking or speeding fines must be repaid by law. You can ask the court fines Officer for repayment terms if not already in place. Keep repayments up to date.

Hire Purchase and Log Book Loans

Hire purchase or log book loans for vehicles essential for travel must be kept up to date. You can often negotiate terms or hand the vehicle back, seek free debt advice first.

Child Maintenance Support

Child maintenance under a court order or Child Support Agency, must be paid. Arrears payments can be agreed with a re-calculation if circumstances have changed.

Other Reasons to Prioritise Debts


Request a Hold

Child maintenance under a court order or Child Support Agency, must be paid. Arrears payments can be agreed with a re-calculation if circumstances have changed.

Template Hold Letter

You can use our free template hold letter below to generate a hold request in a PDF format, this is automatically emailed to you. The completed letter can then be printed & posted or emailed to your creditor(s), don't forget to save a copy. Please note that some creditors will accept electronic signatures by email & some may ask for your formal signature. The data you add to the form is not stored or used by Money Advice Hub or any 3rd party.

Sample Hold Letter