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Budgeting tool guidelines

Personal details

This information is to help you fill in the personal details page of the Budgeting tool.

Name

Put your name as you want it to appear on the financial statement.

Partner's name

You only need to put your partner's name if you are doing a joint budget. If you do put your partner's name in, it will appear on the financial statement at the end. Whether you do a joint budget depends on how you run your finances and whether your partner wants to be included. If your budget is for you alone, don't include your partner's name but you can still include details about their income if you share expenses.

Number of people in household

Count all the people who are going to be covered by your budget, for example, your partner, children, and other adults living with you.

Dependant children

This means all children you are financially responsible for. A child is dependant as long as child benefit is paid for them. You need to put something in each box. If you don't have children in one or both of the age groups, put 0 in the box.

Number of vehicles in household

Creditors and the courts generally accept that it is reasonable for a household to run one car or other vehicle. If you need more than one vehicle, you need to explain the reasons why. If you don't, creditors may refuse your offer which can delay sorting out your debts.

You can add your explanation about why you need more than one vehicle under Other information. The information you add will appear on the financial statement and will help creditors to make a decision about whether to accept your offer.

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Wages and other income

This information is to help you fill in the wages and contributions page of the Budgeting tool.

Wages

The amount you put here should be your take home pay (net wages) as shown on your wage slip. If you get paid different amounts each time, you will need to work out an average. To do this add up your take home pay for the past three months and choose quarterly in the right hand column.

Partner's wages

The amount you put here should be your partner's take home pay (net wages) as shown on their wage slip. If your partner gets paid different amounts each time, you will need to work out an average. To do this add up your take home pay for the past three months and choose quarterly in the right hand column.

If you and your partner are not doing a joint budget, you don't need to include your partner's wages. In that case make sure you divide up the expenses between you and only include your share under expenses.

Other salary or wages

This might be for a second job you do or wages for an extra person who shares your finances and who wants to be included in the budget. If you or the person gets paid different amounts each time, you will need to work out an average. To do this add up the take home pay for the past three months and choose quarterly in the right hand column.

Maintenance or child support

This is the regular amount you receive from an absent partner or parent for you or children living with you. If you don't receive a regular amount you will need to work out an average.

Boarder's or lodger's contribution

A boarder or lodger is someone who you charge to live in your home with you. Put here the amount you get from them towards the household finances. Don't include adult family members living with you. They count as non dependants (see below).

Non dependant's contribution

Non dependant means an adult living with you who is not your partner, for example a grown up son or daughter or a parent. Include non dependants who share your finances and put here the amount they contribute towards the household.

Student loans and grants

Include all income from student loans and grants here but put any money you get from a job under wages. If you receive your money each term, you will need to work out a yearly amount for the tool. To do this, add up your student loans and grants amount for the year.

Other

If you have other income not listed you can add it here, but not income from benefits, tax credits and pensions which you will be asked about on the following pages.

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Benefits

This information is to help you fill in the benefits page of the Budgeting tool.

Put in the amounts you get for each benefit. Only include benefits for other people in your household if your budget includes them. For example, include Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you get for a child. Don't include DLA for an adult who is not covered by your budget.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

If you get contribution based JSA, when it ends you may not be able to get further benefits, for example, if your partner earns too much. If your income goes down this may affect your long term debt repayment plan. If this applies to you, you can tell creditors when your JSA will end and how this will affect your situation under Other information.

Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance

These benefits are paid to help with extra expenses someone may have if they are disabled. Include the amount of benefit here and make sure you include additional expenses under child care or adult care under Expenses.

Housing Benefit

Include the amount you get for Housing Benefit here. Make sure that you put the full amount of your rent (before benefit) under rent in Expenses.

Council Tax Benefit

This is deducted straight from your council tax bill. Put the amount of benefit you get here and the full amount of your council tax bill (before the benefit is taken off) under council tax in Expenses.

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Pensions

This information is to help you fill in the pensions page of the Budgeting tool.

Your state pension

This is the retirement pension you get from the government. Don't include one-off amounts such as a winter fuel payment.

Partner's state pension

This is the retirement pension your partner gets from the government. Only include this if you are doing a joint budget. Don't include one-off amounts such as a winter fuel payment.

Your private or works pensions

If you get more than one private or works pension, add them together. Make sure you add them up based on the same kind of payments, for example, all annual amounts or all monthly amounts

Partner’s private or work pensions

If your partner gets more than one private or works pension, add them together. Make sure you add them up based on the same kind of payments, for example, all annual amounts or all monthly amounts.

Pension Credit

Put here the amounts you get for guarantee credit and savings credit.

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Assets

This information is to help you fill in the assets page of the Budgeting tool.

If you have any items of value (assets), this page helps you to work out how much they may be worth. The amounts you put here do not appear on the financial statement.

If you are thinking about using any of your assets to pay off your debts or as security, you should get advice from a specialist adviser before you contact your creditors. You may have other options which you could consider first.

Your home

If you own your home, how much is it worth?

If you own your home, including if you have a mortgage, put here the amount you think your home is worth. You can estimate this by looking at how much similar homes in your area sell for.

If this doesn't apply to you, for example because you rent your home, put 0.

How much is the mortgage you owe?

Put here the amount left to pay on your mortgage, if you have one.

If you don't owe anything or you are not a homeowner, put 0.

How much is any secured loan you owe?

Put here the amount left to pay on any loans you have secured against your home. If you have more than one secured loan, you will need to add the amounts together.

If this doesn't apply to you, for example because you don't have a secured loan, put 0.

Other assets

If you have a car, how much is it worth?

If you own a car, put here the amount you think it is worth.

If this doesn't apply to you, put 0.

How much of any hire purchase loan do you have left to pay on your car?

If you are paying for your car by hire purchase or conditional sale, put here the amount still left to pay under the agreement.

If this doesn't apply to you, put 0.

How much are your savings?

If you have savings, put here the total amount.

If this doesn't apply to you, put 0.

If you have other assets, how much are they worth in total?

If you have any other assets, for example, antiques, works of art or a significant life assurance policy, put the total amount they are worth here.

If this doesn't apply to you, put 0.

Total value of assets

The budgeting tool will automatically add up the total value of your assets, taking off any amounts you have put that you still owe for mortgages, secured loans and hire purchase agreements.

I confirm that I have considered the use of any assets to make lump sum payments to my creditors

Choose 'Yes' in the drop down box to confirm that you have thought about using any assets you have, to repay your debts. You should choose 'Yes' even if you don't have any assets.

This statement will appear on the financial statement.

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Essential payments

This information is to help you fill in the essential payments page of the Budgeting tool.

Rent

Put the full weekly or monthly rent before any benefit is taken off. Include any Housing Benefit you get under Income. If you have rent arrears you should put them under Priority debts.

Ground rent and service charges

You usually only pay these if you own your home. If you have arrears you should put them under Priority debts.

Mortgages and secured loans

Put your normal repayment here, even if you are paying a lower amount at the moment. If you have mortgage or secured loan arrears you should put them under Priority debts.

Mortgage endowment

Put here the amount you pay to an insurance company for a mortgage endowment policy, if you have one.

Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance

This is an insurance policy to cover you if you are unable to work. You may have taken this out at the same time as your mortgage.

Buildings insurance and contents insurance

You may have separate policies for building and contents or a joint policy covering both. If you know the separate amounts, you can put them in separately. Otherwise put the total under buildings insurance.

Council Tax and Rates

Put the full weekly or monthly council tax or rates before any benefit is taken off. Include any council tax benefit or rates relief you get under Benefits. If you have council tax arrears, you should put these under Priority debts.

Gas and electricity

The amount you put here is to cover your ongoing gas and electricity usage. Depending how you pay, you may need to calculate an average usage amount.

If you pay the same amount on a regular basis (for example, a weekly payment plan or monthly direct debit) put the usual amount here.

If your payment is different each time, for example because you pay quarterly bills, you will need to work out an average. To do this, add up all the bills for the last year and put the total here. Choose yearly in the right hand box. If you have gas or electricity arrears, you should put these under Priority debts.

Water charges

The amount you put here is to cover your ongoing water usage. Depending how you pay, you may need to calculate an average usage amount. If you pay the same amount on a regular basis (for example, weekly payment plan or monthly direct debit) put the usual amount here. If your payment is a different amount each time, for example because you pay quarterly bills, you will need to work out an average. To do this, add up all the bills for the last year and put the total here. Choose yearly in the right hand box. If you have water charges arrears, you should put these under Non priority debts.

TV Licence

Put your usual payment amount here. If you don't have a TV licence but need one, put the amount for one here. If you are behind with an instalment plan for your TV licence, you should put the regular amount of your payment here and any arrears under Priority debts. If you have been fined for not having a TV licence, you should include the amount of the fine under Essential payments.

Pension contributions

This means payments you make into a private pension fund. Don't include pension contributions deducted direct from your wages.

Life insurance

If you have more than one policy, add them up and put the total amount here. Make sure you add them up based on the same kind of payments, for example, all annual amounts or all monthly amounts.

Court fines

If the court has ordered you to pay a fine by instalments, put the amount here. If you have fines arrears, you should put these under Priority debts. Don't include county court or sheriff court judgments here.

Maintenance or child support

Put the amount you pay to a former partner or for your children here. If you receive maintenance or child support payments you should put these under Wages and contributions.

Hire purchase or conditional sale

If you have a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement for an essential item that you can't manage without, such as a car to get you to work, put your usual instalment amount here. If you have arrears, you should put these under Priority debts.

If you can't afford to pay your hire purchase or conditional sale agreement, you may need to end the agreement and return the goods. Any amount left over after that should be included under Non priority debts.

Child care costs

You should put here the amount you pay for child care including child minders, nursery fees and after school clubs. You should also include here any extra costs you have because a child is disabled, for example special equipment, clothing or bedding. If you have extra spending because of a child's mobility needs such as taxi fares, you should put these under Housing, telephone and travel.

Adult care costs

You should include here any extra costs you have because an adult is disabled, for example special equipment, clothing or bedding. If you have extra spending because of an adult's mobility needs such as taxi fares, you should put these under Housekeeping, telephone and travel.

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Housekeeping, telephone and travel

This information is to help you fill in the housekeeping, telephone and travel page of the Budgeting tool.

Housekeeping

Many of the expenses in this list are not set amounts and may have to work out an average figure to put in. It's important not to under estimate what you need to spend. To get an average figure, add up what you spent over the last 3 months and choose 'quarterly' from the right hand box.

Home telephone

The amount you put here is to cover your ongoing home telephone (landline) usage. Depending how you pay, you may need to calculate an average usage amount. If you pay the same amount on a regular basis (for example, weekly payment plan or monthly direct debit) put the usual amount here.

If your payment is different each time, for example because you pay quarterly bills, you will need to work out an average. To do this, add up all the bills for the last year and put the total here. Choose yearly in the right hand box and the tool will calculate an average monthly figure.

Mobile phone

The amount you put here is to cover your ongoing mobile phone usage. Depending how you pay, you may need to calculate an average usage amount. If you pay the same amount on a regular basis (for example, weekly payment plan or monthly direct debit) put the usual amount here.

If your payment is different each time, for example because you pay as you go, you will need to work out an average. To do this, add up how much you spent over the last 3 months and choose quarterly in the right hand box.

Other telephone

You should put amounts here for any other landlines and mobile phones which are essential to your household. For example, if a vulnerable person needs their own mobile to keep in touch with you. You will need to explain why you need extra phone expenses under Other information. The information you add to this page will appear on the financial statement and will help creditors to make a decision about whether to accept your offer.

Public transport

Include all travel for school, work and other reasons. If you don't know how much you spend or the amount is not regular, work out how many journeys you need over a particular period, for example a week or a month, and add them up. This will give you an average figure.

Taxis and other travel

If you have extra spending because of someone's mobility needs, you should put them here. You will need to explain why you need these expenses under Other information. The information you add will appear on the financial statement and will help creditors to make a decision about whether to accept your offer.

Car costs

You need to work out how much you spend on a regular basis for car insurance, road tax, fuel, MOT and car maintenance, breakdown or recovery, parking charges or tolls, other car costs

If you have more than one vehicle, creditors may ask you to explain why you need more than one car. You should put an explanation about why you need more than one vehicle under Other information [link to heading Other information] at the end of the budgeting tool. The information you add will appear on the financial statement and will help creditors to make a decision about whether to accept your offer.

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Other expenses

This information is to help you fill in the other expenses page of the Budgeting tool.

Health

You should include here expenses for dental treatment, glasses, sight tests and regular prescriptions. If you are not sure how much you need to allow, you could add up what you have spent on these items for the last year. Allow at least one dental check up per year for each person who has to pay for this and sight tests for each person who will need one.

Allow more if you know about a particular health problem that is going to happen in the coming year, for example if someone is due to have dental work. It may help if you add more information about what this is under Other information. The information you add will appear on the financial statement and will help creditors to make a decision about whether to accept your offer.

Repairs and house maintenance

You need to allow enough to cover general maintenance of your property if you are responsible for this and to repair essential items such as a boiler or water tank. If you pay for central heating or other maintenance cover, put the amount here.

Hairdressing and haircuts

To get an average amount, add up the regular amounts each person spends over a year.

Pocket money and school trips

To get an average amount, add up what you need for each child for a year. You could base this on the amount you spent last year.

Hobbies and leisure

You should include gym memberships and charges for sports, clubs and outings. To get an average amount, add up the regular amounts each person spends over a year.

Gifts

You should include Christmas and other religious festivals, birthdays, charity donations. To get an average amount, add up the regular amounts each person spends over a year.

Vet bills and pet insurance

Allow for any regular treatment and an amount to cover emergencies, if you have no pet insurance. To get an average amount, add up the regular amounts over a year.

If there's no money left for priority creditors

After you finish filling in all the expenses pages, if there isn't enough money left in your budget to make offers to your priority creditors, you will not be allowed to continue with the budgeting tool.

If this happens, a warning will appear on the screen and you will have to either go back and change your figures or get advice and then start again.

It's important that you get advice quickly if you can't pay your priority debts.

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Priority debts

This information is to help you fill in the priority debts page of the Budgeting tool.

What debts to include

We have listed the most common priority debts. If you have other debts which you think are a priority, list them under other. For example, you might have more than one secured loan.

Amount

Only include the arrears here. Put the amount of the regular payment for each item under expenses.

Repayment amount

You must put in a repayment amount for each priority debt. If you don't, all your available income will be used to work out offers for your non priority debts. You should agree the repayment amount for each priority debt with your creditors before you continue with the budget.

If there's no money left for non priority creditors

After you have filled in the priority debts page, if there isn't enough money left in your budget to make offers to your non priority creditors, you will not be allowed to continue with the budgeting tool.

If this happens, a warning will appear on the screen and you will have to either go back and change your figures or get advice and then start again.

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Non priority debts

This information is to help you fill in the non priority debts page of the Budgeting tool.

List all your non priority debts here. The budgeting tool will automatically work out fair offers to each creditor based on the amounts you owe.

Which debts to include

List all your non priority debts here. Include money you owe for:

  • water charges arrears
  • personal loans. Put all your unsecured loans here. If a loan is secured against your property, put it under Priority debts
  • credit and store cards
  • catalogues and mail order
  • family and friends
  • parking charges only when they are being collected by the local authority: Put court fines for driving offences under Priority debts
  • hire purchase and conditional sale for goods that aren't essential. If you need to keep the goods, put arrears under Priority debts.

The budgeting tool will automatically work out fair offers to each creditor based on the amounts you owe.

Creditor name

Put here the names of the companies or person you owe money to. If the debt is being collected by a debt collector, put their name here.

Amount you owe

Put the total amount left to pay. You can get the amount from the last statement or letter from the creditor.

Court orders

If any of your debts are subject to a court order you should not include them in the creditors list. It will affect the working out of the repayments to your creditors and you could end up in breach of the court order. If this happens, your creditor can take further action against you.

If you think you have a court order for any of your debts, it's important to get advice before you continue with the budgeting tool.

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Other information

This information is to help you fill in the other information page of the Budgeting tool.

You can use this box to tell you creditors more about your situation. The information you put here will help creditors decide whether or not to accept your offer of repayment. You should include here:

  • details of extra expenses you need because someone in your household is disabled or sick
  • reasons why you need more than one vehicle for your household, for example, because two people need a vehicle to get to work in different places
  • if you are looking for a job or you are out of work because of illness, how long you expect your situation to last
  • anything else you want to tell your creditors.

Write as clearly as you can, as if you were writing a letter so that what you put makes sense. The information you put here will appear on the second page of your financial statement.

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