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i England, Wales and Northern Ireland only

What is an IVA

Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or DMP?

Individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and debt management plans (DMPs) work in similar ways but have key differences. This means they impact your life in different ways.

They are both debt solutions that let you:

  • Pay what you can afford
  • Make a single monthly payment
  • Share it among the people you owe


  • An IVA is a form of insolvency
  • It is legally binding
  • A DMP is an informal arrangement with the people you owe
  • It is not legally binding

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.

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Looking at an IVA?

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How could an IVA help me?

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal agreement between you and your creditors.

  • It helps you pay off your debts in affordable monthly payments
  • Usually over five or six years.
  • You may also be able to make one large payment
  • This is called a lump sum IVA

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

An IVA protects you from further action as long as you keep up with payments.

There are costs and fees to set up an IVA.

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.

  • Different companies charge different amounts
  • StepChange Voluntary Arrangements follow industry standards. There are no:
  • Upfront fees
  • Fees for debt advice

The ‘unsecured debts’ included in your IVA are written off at the end.

Find out more about getting an IVA.

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.


Creditors can request your bankruptcy if your IVA fails.

  • They ask your IVA supervisor to petition for this
  • It is rare for this to happen

How could a debt management plan help me?

A debt management plan (DMP) helps you:

  • Pay back your debts
  • At an affordable rate
  • Over a reasonable period of time
  • Usually no more than 10 years

A DMP is an informal agreement. This means:

  • The people you owe do not have to agree
  • They do not have to stop contacting you

However, most creditors do:

Find out more about getting a DMP.

How do I find out if an IVA or DMP is right for me?

Free and impartial debt advice can help you find the best options for you.

Debt advice looks at:

  • Your debts
  • How much do you owe?
  • What debts do you have?
  • How would certain solutions impact you?
  • Could it affect your job?
  • Your assets?
  • What can you afford?
  • What is your income?
  • How much are your bills?
  • What can you pay towards debts?
  • Are things going to improve?
  • Might you have more income soon?
  • Will you have fewer costs next year?

Have you seen an ad for “government debt solutions”?

These are usually adverts for IVAs. These ads can be misleading.

The Advertising Standard Authority is taking action against these for false advertising.

How do I apply for an IVA or DMP?

When you complete debt advice with us, we will give you a "Personal Action Plan"

This includes:

  • Your budget
  • Your recommended solutions
  • A guide to setting up your solution

We will support you to set up and manage whatever plan you choose.

We have our own IVA subsidiary, StepChange Voluntary Arrangements, to help set up your IVA if that is the best choice for you.

Ready to get started? Online debt help.

Can you change from a DMP to an IVA?

Contact your DMP provider if your circumstances change after you set up a DMP.

A DMP may not be suitable any more if:

  • Insolvency will not have a negative impact on your job or home
  • You can now make a lump sum IVA payment
  • Your DMP is taking too long

Your DMP provider will then need to:

  1. Review your situation again
  2. Make revised recommendations
  • These may or may not be for an IVA

Find out more about managing a DMP.

Need help with your debts?

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Thinking about an IVA?

We can help. Free, online debt advice available now.

Get debt help

"Get in touch with StepChange, you'll wish you'd done it sooner" Rob, Wiltshire

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