Dealing with your priority debts

​The Debt Arrangement Scheme and priority debts

If some or all of your priority creditors have refused an offer of repayment (or if you think it is likely that some will), you should consider whether to apply for a debt payment programme under the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS). This will give you time to pay off your debts over a reasonable period and stop your creditors from taking action against you. You can exclude rent debt, secured loan debt and mortgage debt, if that is what you want to do. Any excluded debt will be noted in the debt payment programme application.

The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) 

Summary warrants and priority debts

Some priority creditors can apply to the sheriff court for a summary warrant against you.  This is a court order that confirms how much money you owe. It is the first step in your creditor using diligence (where sheriff officers take enforcement action).  There is no need for a court hearing and the court must grant a summary warrant unless the creditor has not gone through the proper procedure (for example, they have not filled in the correct form). The summary warrant procedure may be used by priority creditors such as:

  • your local council, to collect overdue council tax; and
  • HMRC, to collect any income tax, National Insurance contributions or VAT, as well as overpayments of tax credits.

Creditors collecting ordinary credit debts cannot use a summary warrant.

Before your creditor can use most types of diligence, they need to send you a ‘charge for payment’. This is a formal demand asking you to pay what you owe, usually within 14 days.