Thousands of people in the UK are struggling with debt, which can be very stressful. So getting the right information should be very important to you. All debt problems can be solved, so if you' re struggling with debt, try not to worry, but do not ignore your problem it's vital to take action now and get in control of your finances.
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Individual Voluntary Arrangement's (IVA) were first introduced by the Government in the 1986 as an alternative to bankruptcy. They were put in place to help anyone in serious debt and finding it difficult to make their monthly payments and are the now the most popular formal solution to clear debt.
An IVA is a formal agreement with your creditors (the people you owe money to) where you agree to pay only what you can realistically afford, taking into account your living expenses and monthly income. This is paid as a single monthly payment, usually over a period of only sixty months. At the end of the period any remaining debt is written off and you owe nothing, this can be as much at 85%* of your debt being written off.
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We do not administer or provide advice solely relating to debt management products, such as Debt Management Plans or Debt Payment Plans under the Debt Arrangement Scheme. We only provide advice after completing or receiving an initial fact find where the individual(s) concerned meets the criteria for one of our insolvency solutions, therefore, all advice is given in reasonable contemplation of an insolvency appointment.
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is an agreement with your creditors to pay all or part of your debts. You agree to make regular payments to an insolvency practitioner, who will divide this money between your creditors.
An IVA can give you more control of your assets than bankruptcy.
The Money Advice Service has information on organisations that can give you free advice about whether an IVA is right for you.
Use an insolvency practitioner to get an IVA.
Your insolvency practitioner works out what you can afford to repay and how long the IVA lasts. You’ll have to give details about your financial situation, for example your assets, debts, income and creditors.
Your insolvency practitioner will contact your creditors. The IVA will start if the creditors holding 75% of your debts agree to it. It will apply to all your creditors, including any who disagreed to it.
An IVA will stop your creditors taking action against you for your debts.
Your IVA can be cancelled by the insolvency practitioner if you do not keep up your repayments. The insolvency practitioner can make you bankrupt.
You may still be able to keep your business running, if you have one.
Your IVA will be added to the individual insolvency register. It’s removed 3 months after the IVA ends.
A Protected Trust Deed is ideal for someone who lives in Scotland and has unsecured debts that are mounting and becoming unmanageable.
It allows you to consolidate all your monthly payments into one affordable monthly repayment. Over the duration of the Deed, which is normally four to five years, you will pay what you can reasonably afford based on your income and any assets you may have.
It is a voluntary agreement between an individual and a licensed Insolvency Practitioner (the Trustee). The Trustee presents your Protected Trust Deed to your creditors.
It will be protected if no more than half (in number) or a third (in value) of your creditors object to it. Once protected, your creditors cannot take further action against you or make you bankrupt. Your Trustee will continue to administer your Protected Trust Deed over its duration.
If you have a debt problem, one of your options for sorting it out might be bankruptcy. You can apply for bankruptcy if you can’t pay back your debts.
As well as applying for bankruptcy yourself, someone else you owe money to (a creditor) can apply to make you bankrupt, even if you don’t want them to. For a creditor to make you bankrupt, you must owe at least £5,000.
Remember, bankruptcy might not be your only option and it might not be the best one for you. One of your other options might be a debt relief order. You could be able to apply for a debt relief order if you have debts, income and property below a certain amount. This is a cheaper alternative to bankruptcy.
Advantages of going bankrupt
When the bankruptcy order is over you can make a fresh start - in many cases this can be after a year.
Other advantages of going bankrupt include:
1. The pressure is taken off you because you don’t have to deal with your creditors
2. You're allowed to keep certain things, like household goods and a reasonable amount to live on
3. Creditors have to stop most types of court action to get their money back following a bankruptcy order
the money you owe can usually be written off
Disadvantages of going bankrupt
To apply to go bankrupt you’ll need to pay a £680 fee. Other disadvantages of going bankrupt include:
1. if your income is high enough, you’ll be asked to make payments towards your debts for 3 years
2. it will be more difficult to take out credit while you're bankrupt and your credit rating will be affected for 6 years
3. if you own your home, it might have to be sold (but you may be able to apply to your local authority for re-housing)
4. some of your possessions might have to be sold, for example, your car and any luxury items you own
5. if you are, or are about to be, the right age to get your pension savings, these might be taken
6. some professions don’t let people who have been made bankrupt carry on working
7. if you own a business it might be closed down and the assets sold off
8. going bankrupt can affect your immigration status
9. your bankruptcy will be published publicly (although if you’re worried you or your family maybe the victims of violence, you can ask that your details aren’t given out)
What happens at the end of bankruptcy
Your bankruptcy will normally end after a year. The Official Receiver will tell you when it is over. Most debts that haven’t been paid will be written off although some debts like court fines and student loans can never be written off.
Even when you’re no longer bankrupt, you could have a bankruptcy restriction order made against you. This can last up to 15 years and will restrict your financial affairs. This order could be made if, for example, you do not co-operate with the Official Receiver, or you take on debts knowing that you won’t be able to pay them back.
Debt Relief Orders (DROs) are one way to deal with your debts if you owe less than £20,000, don’t have much spare income and don’t own your home.
If you get one:
1. your creditors can’t recover their money without the court’s permission2. you’re usually freed (‘discharged’) from your debts after 12 months
Get a Debt Relief Order
You get a DRO from the official receiver, an officer of the bankruptcy court, but you must apply through an authorised debt adviser. They’ll help you fill in the paperwork.
There’s a list of organisations that can help you find an authorised debt adviser in the guide to DROs.
The Money Advice Service has information about where to get free debt advice.
The official receiver’s fee is £90. Your debt adviser can tell you how and when to pay it. In some cases a charity may be able to help you with the cost - ask your debt adviser.
You’re generally eligible if you meet all of these criteria:
1. you owe less than £20,000
2. you’ve less than £50 a month spare income
3. you’ve less than £1,000 worth of assets
4. you’ve lived or worked in England and Wales within the last 3 years
5. you haven’t applied for a DRO within the last 6 years
You must follow rules called ‘restrictions’ if you get a DRO.
This means you can’t:
1. borrow more than £500 without telling the lender about your DRO
2. act as the director of a company
3. create, manage or promote a company without the court’s permission
4. manage a business without telling those you do business with about your DRO
If you want to open a bank account, you may also have to tell the bank or building society about your DRO.
Check the individual insolvency register to see when the restrictions end.
The restrictions usually last 12 months. They can be extended if careless or dishonest behaviour caused your debt problem. For example, you lied to get credit.
The official receiver will tell you if they should be extended. To extend them, you’ll be asked to agree to a ‘Debt Relief Restrictions Undertaking’. The court can issue a ‘Debt Relief Restrictions Order’ if you don’t agree.
What you need to know
While you have a DRO you still have to pay:
1. your rent and bills
2. certain debts, eg student loans, court fines
DROs can be cancelled if:
1. your finances improve
2. you don’t co-operate with the official receiver - eg you don’t give them the information they ask for
If you get new debt after your DRO is approved you could:
1. get a bankruptcy order
2. be prosecuted if you don’t tell new creditors about your DRO
Your DRO is added to the individual insolvency register - it’s removed 3 months after the DRO ends.
Your DRO will stay on your credit record for 6 years.
An administration order is a way to deal with debt if you have a county court or High Court judgment against you and you can’t pay in full.
The debt must be less than £5,000.
You make 1 payment a month to your local court. The court will divide this money between your creditors.
Creditors listed on the administration order can’t take any further action against you without the court’s permission.
The Money Advice Service has information on organisations that can give you free advice about whether an administration order is right for you.
Get an administration order
Fill in an application for an administration order (n92), and return it to your local court.
The court decides:
1. how much of your debt you have to repay, eg all or just part of it
2. how much your monthly repayments will be
3. how long the arrangement lasts
The arrangement is known as a ‘composition order’ if you can’t pay all your debts.
There’s a court fee each time you make a payment. This can’t be more than 10% of your debt.
Example: If you owe £5,000 the total fee can’t be more than £500.
1. owe less than £5,000, including any interest and charges
2. owe money to at least 2 creditors
3. prove you can afford regular repayments, eg give details of your income
4. have a county court or High Court judgment against you, which you can’t pay in full
You must keep up your repayments or the court can:
1. ask your employer take money from your wages – known as an ‘attachment of earnings order’
2. cancel the arrangement
You may still be able to keep your business running, if you have one.
Your administration order is added to the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.
It’s usually removed 6 years after the date the order was made.
Your entry is marked as ‘satisfied’ if you repay your debts in full.
You can also ask the court for a ‘certificate of satisfaction’. To do this, write to the court and send a cheque for £15 (made payable to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service).
A Debt Management Plan is an agreement between you and your creditors to pay all of your debts.
Debt management plans are usually used when either:
1. you can only afford to pay creditors a small amount each month
you have debt problems but will be able to make repayments in a few months
You can arrange a plan with your creditors yourself or through a a licensed debt management company for a fee. If you arrange this with a company:
1. you make regular payments to the company
2. the company shares the money out between your creditors
The Money Advice Service has information on organisations that cangive you free advice about whether a Debt Management Plan is right for you.
Get a Debt Management Plan
1. Set up a plan with a debt management company authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Find an authorised company.
2. The company works out your monthly payments. You’ll have to give details about your financial situation, eg your assets, debts, income and creditors.
3. The company contacts your creditors and asks them to agree to the plan (they don’t have to).
Unless stated in the agreement, your creditors can still:
1. ask you to pay your full debt at a later date
2. take action to recover their money even if you keep up your payments
Some companies will charge:
1. a set up fee
a handling fee each time you make a payment
Make sure you understand the costs of your plan and how you pay for it.
Debt Management Plans can only be used to pay ‘unsecured’ debts, eg debts that haven’t been guaranteed against your property.
Your plan can be cancelled if you don’t keep up your repayments.
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Free debt counselling, debt adjusting and credit information services are also available from the Money Advice Service.
The debt write off amount for each customer differs depending upon their individual financial circumstances and debt level. Any write off is also subject to approval from creditors.
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