Debt & Welfare Benefits
There are 2 types of debt – priority debts and non-priority debts. Priority debts have to be dealt with first because, if you don’t pay them, you could lose your home, your liberty, or essential goods and services. Clark Willis also has specialist Housing lawyers who can help with rent arrears, mortgage and secured loan arrears, and other housing problems. Other priority debts include Council Tax arrears, gas and electricity arrears, and Magistrates’ Court Fines. We can negotiate with creditors, debt collectors, and bailiffs, so that you can repay your debts at a rate which you can afford.
Most debts are non-priority debts. These debts are less important because you are much less likely to lose your home or essential goods and services if you don’t pay them. However, creditors can still take legal action to recover non-priority debts, including applying for a County Court Judgement. Non-priority debts include credit cards, personal loans, and catalogue debts. We can also negotiate with non-priority creditors so that you only have to repay your debts at a rate that you can afford.
Creditors can take court action against you for priority and non-priority debts. However, sometimes you can make applications to court which will help you to repay your debts or stop creditors from taking action against you. These include bankruptcy, Time Orders, and applications to vary or set aside County Court Judgments.
We can offer advice in relation to the following insolvency remedies:
This will have the effect of discharging your debts, usually after just one year. However, bankruptcy is expensive and presently costs up to £700.
Debt Relief Orders
A DRO is a less formal version of bankruptcy but is similar in many respects. A DRO presently costs £90 but will still mean that your debts are usually extinguished after one year. DROs are only available if you have total debts of £15,000 or less, you do not own your home, you have minimal assets, and your monthly disposable income is less than £50.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements
This is a formal arrangement made between you and the majority of your non-priority creditors. Under an IVA, you defer payment of your debts and/or your creditors agree to accept payment of only a proportion of the money you owe. At the end of the IVA, the rest of the debts are written-off.
Please note that insolvency is a complex area of law and you should always seek advice from a properly qualified or accredited advisor.
You can appeal against most Welfare Benefit decisions to an independent tribunal. Usually you only get 1 month to start your appeal. We can help with most appeals, including appeals against Incapacity Benefit and Employment & Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefit & Council Tax Benefit, and overpayment decisions. We may also be able to represent you at your appeal hearing and/or make written submissions on your behalf.
We are able to help with complex benefit forms, including claims for Disability Living Allowance and IB50 (for Incapacity Benefit) and ESA50 (for Employment & Support Allowance) questionnaires.
Social Fund reviews
You have the right to ask for a review of many Social Fund decisions, including decisions about Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans. However, you only get 28 days to ask for a review. We can help with these reviews, including applications to the Independent Review Service.
Tax Credit overpayments
You cannot appeal against Tax Credit overpayment decisions. However, we can write to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs on your behalf to ask them not to recover an overpayment. We can also negotiate with the Revenue so that you only have to repay the overpayment at a level you can afford.
Debt & Welfare Benefits