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i England, Wales and Northern Ireland

What is an IVA

Individual voluntary arrangement. IVA debts

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is an affordable, legally binding way to pay off debts. Most debts are included in an IVA, but not all.

Any leftover balances are usually written off when the IVA ends.

There is no limit to how much debt can be included in an IVA.

Some debts cannot be included.

Find out if an IVA is right for you

IVAs are arranged by StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, part of StepChange Debt Charity. In Scotland, a protected trust deed is a similar solution. This has different benefits, risks and fees.

Get free and impartial debt advice before choosing an IVA.

You can only get an IVA with the help of an insolvency practitioner.

StepChange is an approved organisation to manage IVAs.

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?

Most debts are included in an IVA. Things like:

  • 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 are included.

An IVA does not include debts like:

  • 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 in your name and someone else's.

Joint debts can be included in an IVA, but:

  • The other person still needs to make their payments.
  • They need to pay the rest of the debt if you have part of it written off

It may be helpful for the other person to get debt advice too.

You cannot get an IVA in joint names, but:

  • You may be able to get an "inter-locking IVA"
  • This lets 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 through a CCJ is:

  • Seen as showing preference
  • Against the terms of an IVA

Payments you are already making towards a CCJ will end.

The money owed is then added to your IVA.

Can rent arrears be included in an IVA?

You may be able to include old rent arrears in your IVA.

It is harder to include arrears on a property you rent now. This could put you at risk of eviction.

How does an IVA write off debts?

First you see if the people you owe agree to your IVA proposal.

Once the IVA is set up, you make monthly payments for 60 to 72 months.

You make a single larger payment if you have a lump sum IVA.

Find out if an individual voluntary arrangement is right for you

Get free, impartial debt advice online to find the best options for you.

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