Retake Control Of Your Debt

Don't panic, there are four options available to you - all forms of insolvency - which can wipe the slate clean and allow you to make a fresh start. The law has been relaxed to make it easier for people under severe financial pressure to get protection from creditors and to resume their normal life in a fairly short time span, as short as 12 months - these are listed in order of how extreme the situation has become.

Debt Relief Order

  1. A Debt Relief Order enables debts up to £20,000 to be written off completely, but only if you have less than £50 in surplus income each month and assets of less than £1,000, including any pension fund. Homeowners are not eligible to apply. There is a cost of £90 and you are not required to attend court. Applications must be made through a recognised intermediary such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. Creditors are unable to pursue you for your debts for 12 months from the date of the Debt Relief Order. A record will remain on your Credit Report for 6 years. In Scotland this remedy is not available – a Minimal Assets Process Bankruptcy is the closest match but differs in both costs and benefits.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement

  1. An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is an alternative to bankruptcy. An IVA can be applied to any level of debt, carries less stigma than bankruptcy but usually takes much longer to clear - perhaps 3-5 years - and is reported on your credit file for 6 years. In an IVA, a proposal is put together by an insolvency practitioner, who is called a Nominee. That proposal offers to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed. The proposal is either accepted, rejected or accepted with modifications at a Meeting of Creditors, which then appoints a Supervisor to administer the proposed arrangement. IVA proposals often seek to exclude your home from the assets to be sold, though creditors can insist that the arrangement is secured by a mortgage over your home, though this is rare. You can get free, impartial debt advice from both the National Debtline and StepChange.

Administration Order

  1. If you have at least 2 debts which in total are less than £5,000 and you have a County Court Judgment or a High Court Judgment registered against you, you can apply to your local court for an Administration Order. Under an Administration Order, the court orders that you may make pro-rata repayments to your creditors, and takes 10p in the pound towards administration costs. An Administration Order provides the same protection against creditors as bankruptcy and IVAs and similarly remains on your Credit Report for 6 years.

Bankruptcy

  1. Bankruptcy is the most severe form of insolvency. You petition for your own bankruptcy online - it costs £680. Creditors will no longer be able to pursue you and you could be discharged within 12 months, though the bankruptcy will appear on your Credit Report for 6 years. In a bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to sell your assets (including your home) and to distribute the proceeds evenly to your creditors, after paying costs. But you will literally wipe the slate clean, except for Student Loan debts which remain due after bankruptcy. In Scotland, the equivalent to bankruptcy is sequestration, which costs £200. An application for sequestration is made using a pack downloaded from the Accountant in Bankruptcy.

Alternatives To Insolvency

  1. If you already have creditors threatening to make you bankrupt, or issuing writs against you, and if you have a mortgage with some equity in the property, it may not be too late for a specialist broker to try to help you. Contact them as soon as you can for the best chance of success.
Too extreme? See alternatives for Moving Forward With Your Debt