We may be able to 

  • suggest ways to maximise your income,
  • reduce your outgoings
  • offer solutions for an immediate difficulty
  • help if you have mental health issues

 So that we can help you will need to tell us about

  • the income you have, including any benefits you already claim
  • what you spend each month on essentials and other items


 Sophie was a single parent with a 7 year-old son. Although she worked part time she was getting very worried that she wasn’t able to make ends meet.  She  came in to seek our help with her financial problems.

Sophie had brought recent pay slips and letters showing her total income, including her welfare benefits. She also brought in a letter from her gas and electricity supplier showing that she had run up a significant debt. On talking through the background with Sophie, our adviser discovered that she was just about managing to pay her monthly bills, but had nothing left to pay off the debt.

The adviser checked her benefit entitlements. He didn’t find any additional ones which she could claim, but said that as she was earning less now than when she first claimed housing benefit, she should report her change of circumstances to the council, who should then recalculate her housing benefit to take account of her drop in earnings. This might help a little.

The adviser rang the utility company and they confirmed that the debt had been incurred by a lack of actual meter readings and several direct debits which had bounced. The company agreed to put the account on hold for a set time while we worked with Sophie to sort out how much she could afford to pay off each month and offered advice on ways in which she might avoid getting into difficulties again.

Sophie had only been able to guess what she paid each month on various items, so we gave her a schedule to fill in listing all her expenditure and asked her to check the actual amounts before she came for a second appointment.

At her second appointment the adviser identified that her mobile phone bill was high and could perhaps be reduced by looking for a different contract option. By identifying several items like this Sophie was able to reduce her outgoings sufficiently to allow her to come to an agreement with the utility company to pay off the debt in instalments that she could afford.

* This is a composite story of a client’s problem. Names and events have been altered for confidentiality purposes

You may like to look at our national website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt

For free, independent, confidential advice on a wide range of topics call 0344 848 7969, visit our office at Bridge Street, Godalming Mon to Fri: 10am-4pm or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk