More than a quarter of people would prioritise non-priority debts over arrears that could trigger bailiff visits or see them go to prison.

Research from the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) has revealed that 28% of people would pay off credit cards, loans and overdrafts before their rent, utility bills and Council Tax.

Of those analysed:

  • 15% would stop paying their rent/ mortgage before credit card payments – this could lead to eviction or homelessness
  • 27% would stop paying Council Tax before their credit card – this could lead to imprisonment
  • 5% would stop paying their gas bill before a store card – this could lead to not having any heating or hot water.

Since 2011 there has been a shift in the types of debt which the CAB has had to deal with the most.

While credit card debt and personal loan issues have decreased, there has been an increase in matters relating to Council Tax and rent arrears. This also goes hand in hand with an increase in bailiffs being instructed by local councils – based on research by the Money Advice Trust in 2015.

According to the CAB some people don’t prioritise household bills because they are unaware of what happens in the event of non-payment. In other cases, like credit card companies or other lenders, non-priority creditors often ‘shout the loudest’. This makes people believe they should be repaid first, which isn’t necessarily the case.

“From getting the power cut off to bailiffs knocking at your door, to losing your home or even prison – failing to pay household bills can put people in vulnerable situations.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice

By not prioritising household bills the charity warns people are placing themselves at greater risk of eviction, visits from bailiffs, being cut off from energy supplies and even prison.

Previous research from the CAB has also shown that people would find it helpful if money advice was offered at key times during their life. This could be when buying a first home or having a baby.

If you need more information on priority debts you can view this in our help and advice section.

Did you know that colleagues form the One Advice Group help schools and colleges locally to deliver Financial Education for Future Generations?

If you’re currently worried about your finances, have unsecured debts from personal borrowing and would like to speak confidentially to an advisor who can talk to you about the benefits and considerations of a range of debt solutions and personal insolvency solutions, then please get in touch by calling 0800 048 1764. If requested, during an initial call, advisors can help you to identify your priority debts.

You can also visit to request a call back at a time to suit you. By requesting a call, you are under no obligation to use our services. Harrington Brooks provide solutions to customers living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Should you choose to undertake a plan or arrangement, there may be consequences to consider, including restrictions on future expenditure, lending and on your ability to obtain further or future credit. Fees, terms and conditions apply. For further information and advice please visit /debt-solutions/what-is-a-dmp and

The services that we provide may be available at no cost from other government and charity based providers. Further information can be obtained from the Money Advice Service at

Also part of the One Advice Group, OpenDoor (Legal Services) Ltd specialise in providing debt litigation advice and representation which covers matters including county court judgments, all types of enforcement proceedings, including bailiff and eviction notices, possession claims and much more. This service is provided free of charge to existing, active customers of Harrington Brooks, otherwise fees and terms and conditions may apply. Visit OpenDoor for more details, or to request a call back at a time to suit you. We can give advice at any stage of legal proceedings but strongly advise customers to make contact as soon as possible. If you are a new customer to Harrington Brooks, and have outstanding legal proceedings, then please call us for immediate advice and forward the paperwork to us direct, without delay. We can be reached on 0330 102 0110.

OpenDoor will ensure that you will receive the clear, pro-active, and impartial advice you need to get your situation resolved, paying close attention to your individual needs and circumstances. We will work with you to map out the most appropriate and robust plan of action at a cost you can afford.

Brands in the One Advice Group are authorised and regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), The Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).