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Money and hardship

A guide for RCN members on money, debt, hardship and bankruptcy.

Money and debt advice from the RCN

When the unexpected occurs, such as ill health, a family break-up or a dispute with your employer, financial hardship may follow.

We can provide practical advice to help alleviate financial difficulties and provide longer-term solutions to difficult financial situations in the following circumstances:

  • When your income has been reduced for any reason. A welfare adviser will complete a benefits check to ensure you are receiving all the state benefits and tax credits to which you are entitled.  
  • When you are struggling to meet your monthly financial commitments due to a reduction in your family income. A welfare adviser can provide advice on negotiating with your creditors and help you regain control of your finances.

Our welfare advisers have an Office of Fair Trading standard license to offer debt counselling.

 If you are having money and debt problems you should read the RCN document Dealing with a Drop in Income.

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Hardship funding through Lamplight Support Services

The RCN's Lamplight Support Service provides vital support and funding to help members of the nursing team get their lives and careers back on track in times of need.

It may be able to assist you in the following ways:

  • rental payment where there is a shortfall in Housing Benefit entitlement
  • respite break following a period of illness or caring for a sick relative
  • payment of a utility service, such as gas or water, during a period of reduced income
  • short-term child care costs when a relationship has broken down and this facilitates remaining at work
  • funding for disability equipment needed due to illness
  • costs of essential household items when fleeing domestic violence.

 Please contact the Lamplight Support Service to find out if they can help you.

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If you are considering bankruptcy

If you are in the position where you are having financial difficulties or are considering bankruptcy, contact us for advice.

There are alternatives to bankruptcy and it is important to explore all the options, particularly in circumstances where bankruptcy would not be appropriate due to your role and responsibilities.

Bankruptcy and employment as a nurse

Your personal financial difficulties should not automatically be viewed as affecting your ability to care for patients. However, although rarely an issue, bankruptcy could possibly have implications for your employment if budgetary responsibilities are part of your role and if bankruptcy is an explicit breach of your terms of employment. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) states that personal bankruptcy should not affect registration and would not lead to disciplinary action being taken by the NMC, providing there are no criminal prosecutions associated with the bankruptcy.

The NMC is unlikely to consider it necessary to investigate the conduct of a registered nurse purely on the grounds of bankruptcy alone. However, any suggestion of dishonesty in connection with the bankruptcy could become the subject of an NMC investigation. 

Bankruptcy does not need to be declared when applying for a new job unless you are specifically asked about it as part of the job application process. If you are in this position contact us for further support.

Implications of bankruptcy

Whilst going bankrupt is unlikely to directly impact on your ability to nurse, it is important that you consider any wider implication for your job.

If you own a car and require a car for your job, the Official Receiver may decide that the car you have will need to be sold, and replaced by a cheaper or older model.If you have a hire purchase vehicle or a private lease this may also become invalid on bankruptcy. It is important to check the contract.

It is also possible to lose some or all of a pension lump sum if a petition for bankruptcy is made close to an application for retirement.

Please call us if you are concerned.

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Your rights if your employer becomes insolvent

This information relates to England and Wales:

If you are dismissed as a result of your employer's insolvency you will probably be owed money. You should register as a creditor with your employer’s insolvency practitioner (i.e. liquidator, receiver or administrator).

Under insolvency legislation certain debts that are payable to persons who are, or have been, employees and that are payable in respect of the whole or any part of the period four months up to the insolvency rank as 'preferential debts' (i.e. paid out in priority to other creditors). A preferential debt is capped at £800 (save for accrued holiday pay). If you are owed more, the remaining debt just ranks in line with the ordinary creditors.

If your employer is insolvent (as defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996) and your employment has terminated, you may be entitled to claim the following from the Secretary of State out of the National Insurance fund (subject to certain criteria):

  • up to eight weeks' wages (you can chose the most favourable eight weeks up to the insolvency)
  • up to six weeks' holiday pay due in the last 12 months
  • statutory redundancy payment (however, actual insolvency is not required to claim a redundancy payment; only that the employer will not or cannot pay and you have taken all reasonable steps to recover payment)
  • statutory notice pay
  • basic award for unfair dismissal. 

All payments above are capped at £450 per week (from 1 February 2013).

To make a claim you should contact the insolvency practitioner who is administrating your employer’s finances. The redundancy payments office can give further advice and provide a claim form if it is not provided by the insolvency practitioner. Their contact details can be found on the Insolvency Service website.

An aggrieved employee may complain to an employment tribunal that the Secretary of State has paid nothing or too little. The application must be presented within three months, beginning with the date of communication of the decision of the Secretary of State. Upon the employer's insolvency, certain unpaid contributions due from the employer to an occupational pension scheme or a personal pension scheme may be paid up by the Secretary of State out of the National Insurance Fund. Contact us for further advice and support.

For information applicable to Scotland, visit For information applicable to Northern Ireland, visit

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Call the RCN on: 03457726100

Page last updated - 25/01/2018