It can be hard for stroke survivors and their families to cope with the financial aftermath of a stroke. Struggling to keep up with essential bills and other regular payments can mean extra stress and worry at what is already a difficult time. Our Stroke Helpline Team talk you through some steps you can take if you're struggling with debts:
1) Complete a budget sheet
List all of your current household income and expenses. This can be daunting, especially if your outgoings are higher than your income, but it will be invaluable in helping to decide what your options are.
You should find most of the information you need via bank statements. You can also check wage slips, benefit and tax credit or pension award letters and any letters from companies you pay bills to or owe money to.
You can find example budget sheets on the websites listed opposite. A debt adviser can also help you to complete a budget either in person or over the phone.
2) Maximise your income
Are you receiving everything you're entitled to? You can use the free online calculator at entitledto.co.uk or speak to Turn2Us to check.
You may even be able to get one-off payments from a charitable grant or trust fund. See our 'Benefits and financial assistance' factsheet for more information.
3) Work out which debts you need to pay off first
Organise your debts into 'priority' and 'non-priority' debts.
Priority debts are bills that, if unpaid, might lead you to lose something essential. For example, not keeping up with rent or mortgage payments may lead to losing your home. It's important that these are paid first.
Non-priority debts include unsecured lending such as bank, credit union and payday loans, overdrafts, credit cards, store cards and catalogues. Your home and essential services aren't at risk if you can't pay, so you have more scope to make reduced or zero payments if you need to.
With both priority and non-priority debts, it's helpful to contact your creditors to let them know you're dealing with the situation. Visit nationaldebtline.org for more advice about dealing with creditors.
Where can I get more information?
Different rules apply in depending on where in the UK you live, so seek specialist advice to make sure you get the best guidance for your circumstances.
England, Wales and Scotland
Call 0800 138 1111 or visit stepchange.org
- National Debtline
Call 0808 808 4000 or visit nationaldebtline.org
- Citizens Advice
England and Wales - citizensadvice.org.uk
Scotland - cas.org.uk
- Advice NI
Call 0800 028 1881 or visit www.adviceni.net/advice/debt
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the summer 2020 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.