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Getting an IVA

Insolvency practitioners and your IVA

Insolvency practitioners manage insolvency solutions including IVAs. If you’re considering getting an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), you’ll need to understand what an insolvency practitioner is, and how they set up and manage your IVA for you.

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

What is an insolvency practitioner?

Insolvency practitioners (IPs) are qualified personal insolvency professionals. An IP may work independently, or they may be part of a company which offers IVAs alongside other debt solutions.

Your IP will oversee every stage of your IVA from start to finish. You’ll have to complete some of the paperwork involved yourself, but your insolvency practitioner will take responsibility for your case and do everything they can to help you make your IVA a success.

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.

It’s important to get free and impartial debt advice before going ahead with an IVA, to make sure it’s right for your circumstances. Be wary of adverts making promises about ways to write off debt and get advice from a non-profit organisation like StepChange.

Find out if an IVA is right for you

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Thinking about going ahead with an IVA?

We're here to help. Free, online debt advice available now.

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Can I manage an IVA myself?

You can’t set up an IVA by yourself. You will need to find an insolvency practitioner to take an IVA proposal to your creditors on your behalf. Find out more about managing an IVA.

If you’re considering an IVA, it’s important to get free and impartial debt advice first. StepChange Voluntary Arrangements is an approved organisation to manage IVAs.

There are no set up fees to be paid before your IVA is agreed.

Fees are detailed in your IVA proposal, which an IP will assist in drafting. Any fees have to be approved by creditors. Your IP will explain what fees you need to pay for your IVA.

An IVA is not available if you live in Scotland. The equivalent is a trust deed, and you’ll still need an insolvency practitioner to manage one of these for you. If you’re considering a trust deed, we can recommend an insolvency practitioner for you.

How do I find an insolvency practitioner for my IVA?

StepChange VA offer our own insolvency practitioners with many years of experience in managing IVAs for our clients. No matter who arranges your IVA there are associated costs and fees. Our IVA costs and fees follow industry standards.

Find out more about how IVA companies work.

Alternatively, you can find an authorised insolvency practitioner on GOV.UK.

How do I choose an insolvency practitioner for my IVA?

StepChange can offer expert debt advice to determine if an IVA is right for you. If you go ahead with an IVA, we will recommend trusted insolvency practitioners who are experienced in managing IVAs for our clients.

If you don’t want to use StepChange VA as your IVA provider, there are other companies available. However, it’s still important to get expert debt advice first to make sure an IVA is the best solution for you.

Regardless of who sets up your IVA for you, there will be costs involved. The fees involved with setting up and running an IVA might vary between companies, so it’s worth comparing a few first before going ahead with one.

The Insolvency Practitioner’s fees are deducted from your payment. However, this doesn’t affect the time it takes to repay your debts.

money iconAt StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, there are no up-front fees, and we won’t charge you for debt advice.

What does an insolvency practitioner do?

Only an insolvency practitioner (IP) can assist you with an IVA. The IP has several different roles to fulfil during your IVA.

They will firstly act as an advisor to you and help you finalise the terms of your IVA.

Once you decide to proceed with an IVA the IP becomes your Nominee. At this stage they have legal duties to fulfil and need to report to your creditors on the viability of your IVA. The Nominee must remain impartial and can’t be influenced by either you or your creditors.

Once your IVA has been approved, the IP becomes the Supervisor of your IVA. Their role includes reviewing your IVA at least once a year, collecting and passing on your payments and ensuring you stick to the terms of the IVA.

Usually your IP will act as both the Nominee and Supervisor, so you’ll be dealing with the same organisation throughout your IVA.

How do I choose an insolvency practitioner?

If you don’t want to use StepChange VA as your IVA provider there are other companies available. However, it’s still important to get proper debt advice first to make sure an IVA is the best solution for you.

Regardless of who sets up your IVA for you, there will be costs involved. The fees involved with setting up and running an IVA might vary between companies, so it’s worth comparing a few first before going ahead with one.

Do I need to meet with my insolvency practitioner?

Before the IVA is set up, you’ll have a discussion with a StepChange VA advisor to make sure an IVA is the right option for you.

If you’re choosing a different IP, you may have an informal meeting with them to discuss the same thing. This meeting will usually take place over the phone or might be at the insolvency practitioner's office at your request.

When you decide to go ahead, you’ll have another meeting in which you will begin the formal process of setting up the IVA.

The insolvency practitioner, whether they’re from StepChange VA or elsewhere, should explain all options available to you before you commit to an IVA.

mum at the table with bills

Thinking about going ahead with an IVA?

We're here to help. Free, online debt advice available now.

Get debt help

What is the role of an insolvency practitioner in managing my IVA?

The IP has several different roles to fulfil during your IVA.

Assessing if an individual voluntary arrangement is right for you

Their first task will be to assess whether an IVA is affordable and right for you. The insolvency practitioner is responsible for giving the best possible advice. if an IVA is not the right option, they’ll recommend an alternative.

They’ll firstly act as an advisor to you and help you finalise the terms of your IVA.

Once you decide to go ahead with an IVA, the IP becomes your Nominee. At this stage they have legal duties to fulfil and need to report to your creditors on the viability of your IVA.

The IVA proposal

They’ll work with you to gather all relevant paperwork and supporting information to draft the IVA proposal. The proposal is a legal document, like a contract, which details your IVA offer to your creditors.

Your insolvency practitioner will make sure that your IVA Proposal is fair to both you and your lenders. This should mean that you’ll be paying as much as you can afford, without setting yourself an unrealistic challenge.

Once it’s been drafted and verified by you, the IP provides copies of the proposal to the creditors and arranges a creditors' meeting. It's during this meeting that a decision will be made by creditors as to whether to accept the IVA, and make it legally binding.

Creditor approval

When the creditor’s meeting takes place, your IP will check to see whether enough creditors have voted in favour of the terms in your IVA Proposal.

If any creditors have requested 'modifications' to those terms, your IP will discuss them with you. You'll have to agree to these before your IVA proposal can be considered accepted, and the meeting can be brought to a close.

Once the creditors meeting is finished, your IP will draw up a report that shows what happened at the meeting, any modifications, who voted and who accepted. This report is then sent to you and all your creditors.

Your insolvency practitioner in their Nominee role must be completely impartial. They can’t be influenced by either you or your creditors.

Supervising your individual voluntary arrangement

Once your IVA has been approved, the IP becomes the Supervisor of your IVA. Their role includes reviewing your IVA at least once a year.

This involves reviewing your financial situation, and you may have to provide financial documents such as payslips. They need to make sure your earnings are still the same, and there are no changes to your financial situation that might affect the terms of your IVA.

In the Supervisor role, your IP is also responsible for collecting and passing on your payments, and ensuring you stick to the terms of the IVA. If the monthly payments are not made on time, or if you don’t comply with reasonable requests from your insolvency practitioner, the creditors will be informed.

Under certain circumstances, your insolvency practitioner can terminate your IVA. This would happen if it became known that you had been untruthful about your financial situation.

Your IP will also be responsible for cancelling your IVA if you choose to do so for whatever reason. However, you should discuss this with your IP first, as cancelling an IVA could have a great impact on your future financial position.

What is the difference between a Nominee and a Supervisor?

The Nominee helps you set your IVA up, whereas the Supervisor manages your IVA once it’s agreed. Usually your insolvency practitioner will act as both the Nominee and Supervisor, so you’ll be dealing with the same organisation throughout your IVA.

Do I need to tell my insolvency practitioner about changes in my financial situation?

If your financial situation changes either for better or worse during the course of your IVA, you’ll need to get in touch with your IP to inform them. If your income increases in any way, you might be required to change your payment plan and pay more to your creditors.

Most IVAs contain a ‘windfall clause’. This means that if you come into any money unexpectedly, such as from an inheritance or bonus at work, you’re likely to have to put some or all of it towards your debt repayments.

What if I have a problem with my insolvency practitioner?

Sometimes it’s possible for you to disagree with your insolvency practitioner about how to continue to follow the terms of your IVA or if you’re unhappy with them for another reason.

The first thing you should do is speak or write to your IP. Explain your problem and give them a chance to respond.

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, the next step would be to write to the IP's regulatory body.

Making a complaint about your insolvency practitioner

If you're still not happy, you can complain online to the Insolvency Service using the complaints Gateway on GOV.UK. They'll look at your complaint and send it to your insolvency practitioner’s authorising body.

Once you have submitted your complaint

The insolvency service will tell you within 15 working days if your complaint is being passed to the authorising body. If your complaint is not upheld, they will explain why.

If your complaint is upheld and passed on to the authorising body

The authorising body will write to you within 10 working days and keep you updated on the progress of your complaint.

Once the complaint has been investigated, the authorising body will write to you within 15 working days to let you know:

  • the outcome of the complaint
  • proposed further action

If you are still unhappy with the outcome, the authorising body will suggest further actions.

Can I change IVA companies?

Changing your IVA IP is unusual but not unheard of. It usually only happens if the IVA company closes or loses their licence. This is because the IP managing the IVA is legally appointed by your creditors.

You should be aware that changing your IVA IP and can be expensive and will involve court action.

If you are thinking about changing your IVA insolvency practitioner, you should speak to a debt advisor or insolvency practitioner first.

Can I cancel my IVA?

You are free to cancel your IVA once it has started. To do this you’ll need to:

  • Stop making the monthly payments
  • Inform your IP that you want them to fail the Arrangement

Once the IVA has failed you may still owe some or all of the debt to your creditors. You’ll need to decide what to do next, you may want to get debt advice before you start a new debt solution.

If you decide you want to cancel your IVA, you should talk to your provider in the first instance to find out what the process is and what it means for your debts.

Get advice you can trust before you go ahead with an IVA

StepChange set up our own IVA company (StepChange Voluntary Arrangements) in 2007 to make sure that IVAs remain an effective way of helping people out of unmanageable debt.

Before deciding on an individual voluntary arrangement, make sure it’s the best option for you.

Our online debt advice tool will identify the best solution to your debt problem.

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