Help with the Cost of Living

Money advice: Sources of help

Citizens Advice Bureaux

The Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, impartial, independent and confidential advice on managing money. They can:      

  • Discuss what options are available to you
  • Advise you how to deal with the companies/organisations that you owe money to
  • Negotiate with creditors that you owe money to
  • Represent you if your creditors are taking court action

Further information:

Practical advice for dealing with your debts

Ensure that your ‘priority’ debts are paid. These are housing costs, secured loans, utilities, Council Tax etc. You may be under pressure from other people you owe money to but, keeping the roof over your head and having enough money to pay for heating and food is more important.

Contact your other creditors and let them know that you are having difficulties if you think you are going to be unable to pay your ongoing instalments or payments. Hopefully, most of your creditors will be sympathetic to your problems and if you are unable to pay due to loss of employment or ill health, you may be able to make a claim on your payment protection insurance. If the people you owe money to refuse to listen to you or you feel you are being treated unfairly, you can make a complaint to the company. Many of your creditors will be governed by codes of practice and examples of these can be found on the internet on the British Bankers’ Association or Finance and Leasing site.

If you have a car, or a household item such as a washing machine, on hire purchase (check your credit agreement as there is a difference between hire purchase and credit) then you must try and keep up the payments on this, as the company can repossess the item if you default on payments. Always seek legal or money advice if a company does try to repossess any item.

Do you pay the minimum payment to your credit cards and store cards? This makes borrowing very expensive and the interest you are paying to these companies would be better used in your own household budget. You may want to consider checking if a loan to consolidate your debts might be cheaper but do look at how much you will pay overall and compare it to the cost of paying your credit card payments.

Think very carefully about taking out payday lending; This is an expensive way to borrow and can leave you in a cycle of dependence on this type of lending. If you are in this situation speak to a money adviser. Useful information about this can be found at the Money Helper website.

This site has links to loan and credit card calculators among lots of other useful information. Do make sure that you can make the repayments to the loan. Too many people miscalculate how much they can pay on a monthly basis and end up with a loan and more credit card debt that they cannot repay. If you are finding that you need to use a credit card or overdraft to meet household or travel costs, and these debts are creeping up, then you may need to seek advice or assistance to help you get things back on track.

  • Check if you are paying for any payment protection insurance (PPI) on any of your credit commitments. Payment protection is a very good thing to have in case of illness or unemployment, but we do find that sometimes people are paying for insurance that will not actually protect them. This may be because of your age, current long term illness or self-employment, so check out the terms and conditions of this insurance and make a decision.

The Money Helper website has useful information about payment protection insurances on their website.

Money Helper Poster

The Financial Ombudsman Service has very useful information on this topic:


The Financial Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about payment protection insurance and other financial products and should be your first step if you are going to try and reclaim mis-sold PPI. You don’t need to pay anyone to reclaim PPI and can do this yourself for free.

National Debtline

The National Debtline can provide advice about how best to deal with your debts and the site also has fact sheets; sample letters; and income and expenditure forms that you can use if you do not want to speak to anyone about your problems. The site will give you a step by step guide to dealing with your debts. If you feel you would like to try and deal with your debts yourself, you can contact the National Debtline.

Cost of Living Support Campaign:  Scottish Government