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What is an IVA

Individual voluntary arrangement. IVA debts

Most of your debts will be included in an IVA, but there are some exceptions. When the arrangement ends, any remaining balances should be written off. An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors to help you pay off your debts.

There’s no limit to the amount of debt included in an IVA, however certain debts cannot be included.

IVAs are arranged by StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, part of StepChange Debt Charity.

Find out if an IVA is right for you

IVAs aren't available if you live in Scotland. In Scotland, a protected trust deed is a similar solution, but has different benefits, risks and fees associated with it.

If you’re considering an IVA, it’s important to get free and impartial debt advice first. You can only get an IVA with the help of an insolvency practitioner.

Clare Lindley and James O'Carroll of StepChange Voluntary Arrangements are licensed to act as insolvency practitioners in the UK by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

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Does an IVA cover all debts?

When you enter into an IVA, most of your debts will usually be included, including:

  • Catalogues
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Gas and electric arrears
  • Council tax arrears
  • Water arrears
  • Payday loans
  • Store cards
  • Income tax and national insurance arrears
  • Tax credit or benefit overpayments
  • Debts to family and friends
  • Any other outstanding bills, for example solicitor’s costs, invoices for building work and veterinary bills

Your insolvency practitioner, who administers IVAs, will confirm which debts will be included.

Debts that aren’t usually included in an IVA include:

  • Mortgages and secured loans
  • Hire purchase agreements
  • Court fines
  • TV Licence arrears
  • Student loans
  • Child support arrears

Can joint debts be included in my individual voluntary arrangement?

A joint debt is a debt that has your name and the name of another person you entered into it with on the agreement. A joint debt can be included in an IVA, however, the other person named on the debt will still be responsible for making payments towards it.

If you have some of the debt written off, the other person will still be asked to pay the remaining money back. If you have joint debts, and are thinking about entering into an IVA, you should get debt advice first.

We can let you know how it’ll affect you and the other person named on the debts. If the person you have joint debts with is worried about money or struggling to keep up to date with payments, you should encourage them to get debt advice too.

You can’t get an IVA in joint names, but you may be able to get an ‘inter-locking IVA’ where you make a joint payment towards your individual agreements.

Can a County Court judgment (CCJ) be included in an IVA?

Yes, a CCJ can and should be included in your IVA. Making separate payments to a creditor through a CCJ would be seen as showing them preference, which would be against the terms of the agreement.

If you’re already making payments towards a CCJ, these payments will end. The money owed would then be added to your IVA.

Can rent arrears be included in an individual voluntary arrangement?

You may be able to include rent arrears from a previous property in your IVA, the same way you can include other unsecured debts

It’s very unlikely that rent arrears on a property you’re currently renting would be included, as this could put you at more risk of eviction, especially if you rent privately.

How does an IVA write off debts?

Before an IVA is agreed, a proposal will be put to your creditors. If they agree to the IVA you’ll make monthly payments towards the IVA for 60 or 72 months, unless you have a lump sum IVA. If you have a lump sum IVA, you’ll make a one-off larger payment into it.

Find out if an individual voluntary arrangement is right for you

Get free, impartial debt advice online, so we can recommend the best solution for your situation.

StepChange Voluntary Arrangements is a registered trading name of Consumer Credit Counselling Service Voluntary Arrangements Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of StepChange Debt Charity.