Help with bankruptcy fees

If you have no money how can you afford £700 bankruptcy fees?A reader asked “I can’t afford to go bankrupt! Is there anyone else that can help with the fees apart from British Gas as I don’t have gas?”

The bankruptcy fees in England and Wales are £705 at the moment (£525 Official Receiver’s fee and £180 court fee) which is just stupidly high – most people go bankrupt because they are broke and they don’t have hundreds of pounds in their bank account. On Debt Camel’s page about the process of going bankrupt, British Gas Trust is recommended as a charity that can sometimes help.  But what are your other options?

Help with the court fees

If you are getting means-tested benefits such as JSA, ESA or Pension Credit, you won’t have to pay the £180 court fee, see this information on whether you will qualify. You need to complete the application form at the end of that link and take it to the court when you bankrupt, togther with a recent benefits letter.

Reclaim PPI

If you haven’t tried to get PPI refunds, then this is something well woth trying. Any refunds that come to you can be used to pay bankruptcy fees. This is worth doing even if you don’t remember having had any PPI – it was sometimes added without you realising. If you wanted the PPI, it’s still worth reclaiming, as the policy may not have been what you thought it was and you may never have been able to claim on it! Find out details about how to do this yourself – it’s now simple and there is no need to waste money by using a PPI reclaim firm.

Sell stuff

If you have any valuable assets that you will lose when you go bankrupt, it makes sense to sell them beforehand to raise the money for the bankruptcy fees. Keep a record of what you sold and for what price.

(nb You need to be careful that you are selling them for a fair price if you are selling something to a relative or a friend. You can’t sell your two-year old Porsche to your brother for £1,000 – if you try this the Official Receiver will demand your brother returns the car – but if you use the Parkers valuation you will be fine. If you want to sell jewelry to a relative, get an independent valuation first etc.)

Help from charities

Many utility companies run trust funds that help customers with utility debts and other financial problems, including paying bankruptcy fees. Turn2Us has a lot of information on grant-giving charities. The following is a partial list: British Gas, EDF Energy, Thames Water,  NPower, United Utilities. Most of them prefer the application form to come from a Citizen’s Advice Bureau not you personally, as they need to know that you have had good debt advice that bankruptcy is a suitable option for you.

Some of them will only help with the Official Receiver’s fee, but you may not have to pay the Court Fee if you are on a low income, see above. Some of them have other requirements as well, eg they will not consider applications if you are a homeowner or if you have been bankrupt before. Your local CAB will be able to sort out which ones are appropriate for you.

There may be other charities that can help too. Sometimes these are local, sometimes you may be eligible because of your current or previous careers, for example SSAFA helps people who have served in the armed forces (including National Service) and their families. There are specific charities for people who have been civil servants, postmen, nurses, shop workers and many other groups.

Your local CAB is usually the best place to get advice and help with this, as they know of any schemes that only operate in you area.

Save it up!

The other alternative is of course to save up for the fees. If you are currently making payments to your non priority debts, including paying a DMP (or if you are struggling to pay into an IVA that you have decided to give up on), then you should stop, not even making token payments, and save this money up. When you get cross letters and calls from your creditors, tell them you are going to go bankrupt.

Stop paying council tax?

There has been a change in 2014 so the current year’s council tax will be included as a debt in bankruptcy. (NB don’t get  excited thinking how much more  money you will have when bankrupt as the Official Receiver will normally want you to pay the tax to him instead, see this article.) It is normally a very bad idea to not pay council tax as councils  take you to court and then you have bailiffs calling faster than any other creditor.  However, if you are literally  just about to go bankrupt and the money you would have paid to the Council this month will be enough to have the bankruptcy fee paid, then not paying this month would be a good idea. If you have never had council tax arrears before, you could consider missing two months payments.

Be very careful about doing this – if you change your mind about bankruptcy, or something crops up and you have to delay going bankrupt, then having council tax arrears is going to make your life more difficult.

Other Debt Camel information about bankruptcy
A Guide to Bankruptcy

A Guide to Bankruptcy – what really happens

The big questions people have about bankruptcy

The big questions people have about bankruptcy

What happens when? A timeline for bankruptcy

What happens when? A timeline for bankruptcy

 *** this article is kept updated for fee changes etc
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  1. carol says

    I was on a debt management plan with Baines and Earnst for about 3 years and claimed a lot of PPI compensation to pay off some of my debt. unfortunately my work circumstances changed and lost my house. I now live in rented accommodation. I owe a substantial amount of money to the bank when the house was eventually sold, I then discussed my problem with B & E and they advised me bankruptcy was the best option for me I was advised to stop paying my creditors on the plan and inform them of my plans and I managed to pay the fees for their support to Baker Evans a subsidiary of Baines and Earnst, but I am struggling to find the £700 to start the process. Would it be possible to ask Baker Evans to fill in the necessary forms as proof I have taken good debt advice.
    Kind regards
    Carol O.

    • Debt Camel says

      hi Carol,
      I am sorry to hear of your circumstances and also that Baker Evans have been profiting from your situation. You don’t actually have to produce written proof that you have taken good debt advice. The judge will usually ask you if you have , so just say Yes, I have been advised by Baker Evans”.
      Regarding the bankruptcy fees, I hope this post has given you some useful pointers. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may also know of some local charities that could assist – it’s worth a try. Otherwise it is a question of putting £5 or £10 a week aside until they are saved up.
      (I have deleted your surname as i wasnt sure you would want your comment to be found by anyone that googled your name.)

  2. paula says

    Hi. Its such a mess I had to leave family home due to domestic violence in which my husband refused to have anything in his name the debts are 25,000. And now I cant work due to disability. I’ve been awarded high rate for both mobility and care allowance and getting 71.40 per week ESA. Is there any help I can get to go bankrupt? Thank u

    • Debt Camel says

      hi Paula, it sounds like bankruptcy is the best route for you and I would expect that you would be helped by one of the charities mentioned in this article. They prefer to receive applications through an approved debt advisor, so I suggest you go to your local CAB and ask them to help you apply.

  3. linzi says

    I have massive debt including a shortfall on my second/third mortgage of around 30,000 with also other debt. I got behind with council tax and they have been handed over to bailiffs – bristow and sutor, they did a walking possession and wrote my goods down and put me in an arrangment where i had to pay £30.00 per week. I have been doing this for over 12 months and never defaulted on this. I have since had a letter from them saying they had recieved another account so my arrangment has been deleted and they now wany 78.00 per week. I cannot afford this. I have enquired about bankruptcy but can i take the bailiffs into my bankruptcy. I work part time and recieve child tax and working tax credits i also get help from housing benefit. Any advise would be greatly appreciated and could i get help with the fees?? Thanks

  4. Mrs D says

    Hi Sarah; I have a mortgage shortfall of £95k with Nram. Im now renting & scared if I go bankrupt I will lose this house too. I work for the council so could lose my job too. CAB & CCCS werent much help, just gave me budget sheets & everyone recommends bankrupcy. Ive heard IVA payments are higher & Nram usually reject them anyway. My life has failed, my marriage is collapsing & Im suicidal

    • Debt Camel says

      Hi Mrs D, there will be a way forward, even if though everything seems impossible at the moment. You owe them money, not your life – please call the Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 if things feel desperate.

      It is very unlikely you will lose your rented house. And few people working for a local authority would find their job at risk. But you really need someone to discuss your exact situation with in detail. I’m sorry CAB and CCCS haven’t been able to help. Can I suggest you call the Debt Counsellors on 0300 456 2726 – they are a new debt charity, only been going a few months, so you may feel you get a more ‘personal’ service which you need. They will be able to talk through your bankruptcy worries, NRAM and IVA concerns, and also possible sources for help with bankruptcy fees.

  5. karen says

    after being sick for almost a year now (ongoing heart/ spine/depression/fibromyalgia) I have found info on this page which had i known about a year ago would have saved me from my health deteriorating to the point i dont want to wake up.
    i have recently taken advice from CAB, they did not tell me of the info i have read about here, so i will go back and ask them to apply for bankruptcy fee assistance.
    i used to earn exceptionally good money, lost my husband, home, health, then job, was evicted and life just seems to be a continuous spiral downwards….. almost out of control……… thank you for the info posted here, it has given me a bit of hope that there may be light at the end of the tunnel and is not an oncoming train :) x

  6. Rhonda says

    Hi I went bankrupt on January 12th and am now getting letter from my appointed trustee about different things one being if I ever claimed a mis sold PPI claim which I did and got a cheque for £1200 last July I saved £800 of this for my bankrupty fees and spent the rest on stuff for my baby due in the September Will be made to produce any proof of my purchases and am I allowed to of paid my fees with it? I’m nervous of what they are going to say it’s been such an awful time

    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Rhonda, using the PPI refund for your bankruptcy fees is absolutely fine. As is buying necessary baby stuff. Just say what you did, it doesn’t sound wildly extravagant to me.

  7. Simon says

    Me and my wife have a past loan we defaulted due the csa hitting me hard from a past relationship. We are worried if we go bankrupt they will take the cars hers is worth about £700 and mine is a 25 year old mini worth about £800. She uses her car for work and mine for school runs, doctors etc. I have a very bad back and can’t walk far so losing any would have a big affect.
    Also I hear my wife’s bank account would be frozen? Not sure if this is true and don’t make sense! As if this happens we would then miss other std bills and create more debt. My JSA is also paid in to this account. If this is true how can we avoid this?

  8. JONES says


    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Jones, If the council was contemplating a committal hearing this is serious. Your local CAB really is the best place to help you. Go back to them and ask what they are doing and about timescales.

  9. Frances says

    Hi, I owed £24,000 4 years ago and started paying into a debt management plan, I was made redundant in January last year and then found out that I now owed £29,000, so I canceled it at the moment due to depression and stress I am on ESA, but desperately want to get back to work, I have been to the CAB for advice and who in turn applied to BG to fund it (I am struggling to live and have no assets, I am in furnished rented accommodation) but BG denied the application (not sure why), I don’t know where to turn too now, I feel like I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, I have worked since being 16 so have no idea what I am doing, need to declare myself bankrupt before I can move forward, any advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Frances, that isn’t an easy situation. I suggest you return to CAB and ask for their help in applying to other charities / trust funds for help. BG are not the only option.
      Also have you ever reclaimed PPI? If not, this is well worth a go – it’s not hard, don’t go to a claims management firm do it yourself – see

  10. craig says

    Hi im a one parent family with lots of debt round me and i have a lawyer from CAB that is helping me keep mthly payments to a minium.
    She and i are having trouble finding a charity to help go bankrupt im on ESA and the fee is all i have to find to go forward to court.

  11. Sara (Debt Camel) says

    Hi Craig, have you looked at reclaiming any PPI? How large are your monthly payments – you could consider stopping them to any non priority debts. Get a sealed piggy bank and put £1 coins in it. Ask any family for help – £50 towards the fees could be the best birthday present ever.

  12. hazel says

    Hi me and my partner are in around 6grand worth of council tax arrears, we did start paying it back to Swift but when my partner rang them due to more worries with money they said they hadnt received any payment whatsoever and yet we paid hundreds to the guy who came to our house every week,now we have had another letter through saying that they are going to see if they can make us bankrupt,what could happen to us?I suffer from serious depression,been to CAB with not much support and we’ve only been able to save a little up to now,we seriously need help thank you

  13. Anton C says

    Hi there, One thing that doesnt seem to have been covered here is what would happen if one did not go bankrupt… i.e. couldnt afford it anyway, and just did nothing. Would the creditors then not decide to do it themselves and pay for any fees/costs ? Or perhaps they wouldnt and would just leave it. If you have no assetts, no home, no car, no money, what can they do ? Would it be financially viable for them to make you bankrupt ?

    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Anton, it is hardly ever worth a creditor making you bankrupt unless you have a house with a lot of equity in it, because the Official Receiver’s fees are paid first before creditors get anything, and those fees can be tens of thousands of pounds. The only creditors that will usually make you bankrupt if you don’t have any equity are the taxman and sometimes local councils – commercial creditors tend to avoid this because they would have to pay the fees (expensive) and wouldn’t get any return. But if you are sent a Statutory Demand then you can’t assume the creditor is bluffing – get debt advice fast!

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