An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a formal, legally binding debt solution plan for individuals and sole traders. It is available as an alternative to bankruptcy for individuals in England & Wales struggling to repay their debts.
What is an IVA?
An IVA is an arrangement between you and your creditors, which allows you to repay your debts in one affordable monthly sum. This amount is distributed to your unsecured creditors, e.g., store cards or self-employed business debts on a pro-rata basis. The arrangement usually lasts five years, and once the arrangement concludes, the debts that are still unpaid are written off.
An IVA must be managed by a licensed insolvency practitioner (IP) who takes on two roles as Nominee first and then as Supervisor if the creditors approve the IVA.
Why use an IVA?
An IVA is particularly useful for sole traders who are looking to avoid bankruptcy but can’t secure the finance needed to pay off liabilities. One of an IVA’s biggest selling points is the condensing of an individual’s unsecured debts into one single monthly repayment.
What debts can be included in an IVA?
A sole trader or individual’s unsecured debts can be included in an IVA. Unsecured debts are those not backed by collateral, guarantees or security. These include credit cards and most personal loans.What debts can be included in an IVA
If you are unsure whether you are eligible to enter an IVA, it’s essential to act quickly. One of our experienced advisors can give you free guidance and walk you through the necessary criteria.
Benefits of an IVA
The benefits of an IVA include:
- An IVA halts all unsecured creditor action (including the use of bailiffs), removing the pressure. Once agreed, all parties are committed to the terms.
- IVA proposals are created based upon what is affordable to the debtor, alleviating multiple unaffordable creditor repayments.
- You can often retain your home through an IVA. Mortgage repayments are also factored into a person’s outgoings when determining the affordability of IVA repayments.
- Any remaining debt is legally written off after your last IVA payment.
The main advantage of an IVA
The main advantage of an IVA is it allows those struggling with personal or sole trader debt to repay those debts at an affordable rate. Unlike in bankruptcy, an IVA can be structured in a way that keeps your home and personal assets out of the arrangement, so long as you keep up with the repayments.
There is a degree of flexibility to adapt the arrangement should your situation change, or you find yourself unable to afford the monthly repayments. However, any changes would need approval from the creditors.
Considerations before entering an IVA
When considering an IVA, some potential drawbacks need weighing up before you commit, as once accepted by your creditors, an IVA proposal becomes a binding contract.
- It will negatively impact your credit rating, although if you already have been struggling with your finances, your credit rating may already be damaged.
- If you’re a homeowner, you may have to re-mortgage to contribute towards your debts when nearing the end of your arrangement.
- Secured debts, child maintenance, student loans and fines are not eligible for inclusion in an IVA. They will, however, be taken into account when establishing affordability.
- Can you realistically pay the monthly amounts required? There is no guarantee that your creditors will accept an IVA.
To be considered for an IVA, there are criteria that your situation must meet:
- You must have a substantial amount of unsecured debt which you are struggling to pay. IVAs are often most effective for debts exceeding £10,000.
- You must have an income to support the monthly repayments after your necessary outgoings like rent and mortgage repayments, bills, food petrol deductions etc.
Creditors can be flexible in terms of what deal they agree to. They can take monthly amounts as well as large lump payments. If there is substantial equity in your assets, creditors may expect to see some of this released as part of the IVA.More benefits and considerations in an IVA
The main consideration of an IVA
An IVA will be added to your credit file and can substantially impact your credit rating. Even after the arrangement’s conclusion, you may find it difficult to apply for credit or loans.
How to apply for an IVA
To apply for an IVA, you should first speak to our initial advice team to assess your circumstances and discuss suitable options. All initial advice is free and impartial with no obligation.
Our IVA application process:
- Initial advice.
After you speak to our initial advice team, they will assess your circumstances and decide whether you’re suitable for an IVA.
- The IP gathers information.
If our initial advice team decides you’re suitable for an IVA, they will start gathering information about you, your assets, debts, and creditors. They may ask for the creditors’ contact details and proof of income and expenditure.
- The arrangement is proposed to creditors.
Once the proposal is completed, the IP will present it to the creditors. 75% of the creditors by the value of the debt who vote at the creditors meeting must approve the proposal for it to pass.
- The IVA begins.
If the creditors approve the proposed arrangement, it will come into force. You’ll repay in monthly instalments for as long as the proposal stipulates.
The IVA process
To formally set up an IVA and begin the process, you would require the help of an insolvency practice such as ourselves. It must be agreed with your creditors and managed by an IP; however, the fees involved would come out of the agreed monthly payments and would not be added on top as extra.
- Assess your eligibility with our experts
- Together we will look through the available options and help you decide if an IVA is the best route forward. With our help, you can arrange the best way out of your debt based on your circumstances, including coming to an appropriate agreement with your creditors.
- Preparation of your IVA proposal
- If an IVA is indeed the best way forward for you, the IP will need to collate various documents to create a proposal for your creditors to review.
- Contact details of creditors, as well as details of debts owed.
- Proof of monthly income & expenditure.
- Additional details regarding your financial situation, such as assets like your home, car etc.
- IVA presentation & creditor vote
- Copies of the IVA proposal are sent to your creditors. 75% of your creditors by the value of the debt who vote need to agree to the IVA for it to be accepted and binding. A virtual meeting is generally held, and creditors generally send their voting electronically or in the post.
- Contractual repayments begin
- If accepted, the proposal becomes a legally binding contract and your monthly repayments begin. Your financial situation will be reviewed annually. If your circumstances change while you’re in the process of an IVA, the IP can look to renegotiate the proposal.
- Situation continually reviewed
- If you are a home-owner, part of the initial proposal will look to include a review of the equity in your house after a 4-year period. If this has grown, you may have to refinance to make an additional contribution to your IVA.
- Writing-off the remaining debt
- At the end of your repayment plan, if there is some debt leftover but was classed as unaffordable in your initial IVA proposal, it will be written off. Again, this is calculated when the proposal is originally prepared.
How much does an IVA cost?
How much an IVA costs is based on the information gathered during the assessment, such as your income and expenditure. We calculate your monthly contributions to the arrangement based on these so it means you’ll pay what you can afford.More on IVA costings
Life after an IVA
Once the IVA comes to an end, all the remaining, unaffordable and unsecured debt is written off, allowing you the chance of a fresh start without pressure from creditors.
An IVA stays on your credit history for six years after the start of the arrangement. Once the arrangement concludes you can start rebuilding your credit rating.
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a formal procedure; a legally binding debt repayment plan made between an individual and their creditors. It’s an alternative to bankruptcy and can represent an opportunity for people to avoid selling their significant assets such as houses. As a process, it must be managed by a licensed insolvency practitioner, who takes on the roles of Nominee first, and then as Supervisor once the creditors approve the arrangement.
How we can help
If you’re worried about creditor pressure piling up on you and think an Individual Voluntary Arrangement might be a good option, it’s essential to act fast. We can help advise you on the best way forward and whether an IVA is the right option for you. With an experienced team of licensed insolvency practitioners, we can assist you at all stages of the IVA. Get in touch for free advice via online chat or a phone call.
What if the IVA is rejected?
An IVA requires approval from at least 75% (by value of the debt) of the creditors who vote at the initial creditors meeting for it to be approved. If the creditors feel the arrangement is inadequate or they’ll lose out, they can reject the IVA. Should that happen, you should explore alternative debt relief options.
What you can do if your IVA proposal is rejected
Are there alternatives to an IVA?
If an IVA isn’t suitable for your circumstances, there are alternatives. Debt management plans and Debt Relief Orders can help with smaller amounts of debt and people with little in the way of assets. Although it may sound scary, bankruptcy can be a legitimate way of writing off your unsecured debts and is relatively quick compared to other procedures, tending to last only one year.
IVA or bankruptcy?
Both Individual Voluntary Arrangements and bankruptcy are designed to help you repay your personal debts. While an IVA is better suited to those with higher debt volumes and an income stream capable of supporting the monthly repayments, bankruptcy may be a better option if you have little in the way of assets or are on a lower income and you want the process over within a year.
A comparison of an IVA and bankruptcy
How can I deal with creditor pressure?
Dealing with creditor pressure is rarely a pleasant experience, so knowing how to deal with your creditors will make things easier. Being aware of the boundaries between reasonable creditor pressure and harassment is important, and allows you to distinguish between a simple chase for payment and overstepping the line.
Dealing with creditor pressure for individuals
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