Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

​TV licence


buy a licence

​Even if you have to pay a fine for not having a licence, you still need to buy a licence as well.

TV licence arrears are a priority payment because you can be fined in the magistrates’ court if you do not have a licence. In Your budget, put these payments under household outgoings. If you are contacted by TV Licensing, or are being prosecuted for not having a licence, it is a good idea to buy a licence as soon as possible. You should send a copy of the licence to the court to help your case. It is also a good idea to plead guilty to not having a licence and explain the reasons why (even if this is just that you simply forgot).

Find the easiest way to pay your TV licence

You may already have a fine for not paying your TV licence.

Court fines below.

Court fines

Fines are the most common penalty used by the Scottish criminal courts. A sheriff or justice of the peace may order you to pay a fine, for example, for a road-traffic offence, for not having a TV licence or for another offence such as theft, minor assault or breach of the peace.

Extra advice:

golden rules

  • If you have a court hearing, or have arrears from failing to pay fines, contact us for advice.
  • Always go to court hearings.
  • Take your budget with you.
  • Try to make arrangements that you can afford to pay or contact the court if you cannot pay.
  • Keep paying what you can afford.




Parking penalty charges

Some local councils have made parking offences non-criminal offences and enforce parking penalty charges through a civil sheriff court procedure instead of through the criminal courts. There are special rules that apply if you have this type of parking penalty. You cannot be sent to prison but the local council can use diligence against you to try to recover the money. If you have a parking penalty charge, contact us for advice.

Extra advice:

which type of parking penalty do I have?

It is important that you know the type of parking penalty you have because the rules about what happens if you don’t pay are different. You should check whether you have a penalty charge notice from the local council or a fixed penalty from the police. The rules are also different if you parked on private land. If you are unsure, contact us for advice.