It’s easy to get into a dangerous cycle when you are in debt. For many people, things can quickly get out of control once your outgoing far exceed your income.
One solution is to use Ashfords to enter into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or IVA. It’s a formal agreement on paying your debts and is sanctioned through the court.
If you want to take the pressure off your debt problem and pay at least some of it off over time, an IVA with Ashfords can certainly be one way to satisfy creditors and give you some valuable breathing space.
Here we take a look at what an IVA with Ashfords entails and whether it’s right for your circumstances.
Who are Ashfords?
Ashfords assists individuals and businesses with debt advice. The company is registered in the UK and provides legal and professional services nationwide. The company posts an annual turnover in excess of $40 million and has more than 500 people in employment.
What is does an IVA by Ashfords do?
The money that you owe to creditors needs to be paid back. An Individual Voluntary Arrangement by Ashfords is a legal undertaking to do just that. The IVA needs to be approved by a court and your creditors and, once in place, you have an obligation to stick to the terms of the agreement.
- An IVA means that your creditors have to follow the rules as long as you meet the terms of the agreement.
- IVAs are time-limited. Once that allotted period is over (say five years) you no longer owe money. For large sums, this can often mean that you only pay off part of your debt.
- An IVA can’t be set up by just anyone. It has to be implemented by a registered insolvency practitioner such as Ashfords.
- The role Ashfords is to deal with your creditors directly and develop a repayment solution that meets their needs and yours.
Will Ashfords arrange an IVA for me?
Not everyone is eligible for an IVA, and neither will it be appropriate for the majority of people.
- First of all, repaying debt through an IVA won’t be considered unless the total amount you owe is over £10,000.
- A number of debts can be added together but Ashfords will recommend this process only if you have more than two debts through more than two creditors.
- Almost any kind of debt can be included such as credit cards, store cards, overdrafts and bank loans as well as council tax, personal tax, and arrears for utility bills.
- The only kinds of debts you can’t include are things like child maintenance, court fines and student loans.
Is an IVA right for you?
The big decision you will have to make is whether an Individual Voluntary Arrangement is the solution to your current debt problem. After all, you’ll be making a legal commitment and failing to meet your obligations can have significant consequences.
An IVA might be the flexible solution that you need but it can also be more expensive than other options. For a start, you have to pay the sizeable fees to Ashfords.
Depending on your circumstances, an IVA with Ashfords can come with a number of different risks. For example:
- You will almost certainly have to use things like your pension and savings to pay creditors.
- If you own your home, it may also be agreed that you need to re-mortgage the property.
- If you are in a job that has a governing body, such as being an accountant or solicitor, it could impact on your ability to practice.
- Things could also change for the worse if you misjudge the affordability of the repayments for your IVA, putting you in more trouble and even leading to bankruptcy.
An IVA is useful, however, if you don’t want to or are not capable of dealing directly with creditors.
What to expect when going through the IVA process with a company like Ashfords
Setting up an IVA is relatively simple. The first step is to find a registered insolvency practitioner like Ashfords. You can do this in two ways:
- Visit the government’s Insolvency Service and search for someone in your area.
- Contact your local Official Receiver for information on practitioners.
Once you have contacted your insolvency practitioner, they will arrange a meeting or call you to discuss what an IVA is and whether it is relevant to your particular situation. If both parties agree, then another meeting will be set up to begin putting the IVA proposal together.
If you are thinking of going straight to a debt management company you may want to check their operation out first. Many simply refer your case to a local insolvency practitioner and then charge you for the pleasure without doing anything else.
It’s important to have the right documentation gathered together so you can work through it with Ashfords. The more information you can give them, the better they will be able to help you.
- First on your list should be to work out your budget – what incomings and outgoings you have and how much spare cash you are likely to have at the end of the month. A simple spreadsheet should suffice for this.
- Gather together your documentation such as payslips or proof of income, bank statements, and any benefits details if you are on them.
- If you have savings such as an ISA or a pension, then it’s important to have details of these as well.
- Next, you need to list any saleable assets that you might have. This can include possessions such as your car or any family heirlooms as well as your home if you own it.
- You’ll need full details of all your debts and who you owe the money to, including any correspondence that might have been sent either by hardcopy or digitally.
Needless to say, you must be honest about everything, however embarrassed you might feel at the time. If Ashfords only has half the story, they won’t be able to help you properly and put an effective IVA in place that will improve your debt problems.
Setting up an IVA with Ashfords
Ashfords, once they have reviewed your situation properly, should outline all the options available. An IVA may still not be appropriate for you and it’s important to get things straight before you proceed.
If your creditors are being aggressive and uncompromising, the insolvency practitioner may decide to get an interim order from the courts to stop this. Most creditors will, however, listen to reason and any differences can normally be resolved after a little correspondence.
The next step is to decide what form your IVA is going to take. You may, for example, need to use your property or an asset like your car to help pay off your debt. A lot will depend on your circumstances. You might need your car or van for work which means selling it isn’t an option. The practitioner will also make a judgement call on how much you can afford to repay each month based on your income.
Once you’ve agreed the way forward, Ashfords will draw up a proposal which will eventually be presented to the creditors and in court. This will stipulate what you intend to pay and over what length of time. In addition to this, Ashfords will write their own report on whether they think the IVA will work or not.
In general, there are three important parts to the court submission:
- Your financial details including your debts, how much you earn, what assets you have and other relevant information relating to your situation.
- The details of your agreement as proposed in the document, which includes the amount of monthly repayments and how long this is to run for.
- The final part is important. It’s why your creditors should agree to this method of repaying your debts. The main reason should be that they get more money back than they made you bankrupt.
In an IVA, there is a narrow path to walk between giving the creditors what they are actually looking for and your ability to repay. In respect of this, Ashfords must take into account the opinions of your creditors when setting everything up and issuing their report.
In other words, while your Ashfords is helping you manage your debt, they are doing it impartially and giving creditor’s expectations equal focus. They’re not there to get you the ‘best’ deal.
The final step of the IVA process is whether creditors accept or refuse your offer of repayment. This is usually done at a meeting with a vote at the end. If enough creditors agree to the IVA, then the repayment proposal has been accepted.
The IVA then becomes binding for all parties, even those who may have refused the proposal.
What happens after Ashfords has set my IVA up?
After repayments have been agreed, you will have a legal obligation to meet them every month. If you are subsequently unable to keep up those payments, it’s important to contact Ashfords immediately.
Your IVA fails when you are unable to make any payments and your creditors decide that they don’t want to accept a reduced amount. In these circumstances, it’s highly likely that the creditors will take further action against you for recovery of money owed. This may lead to you being made bankrupt.
This is a last resort but maybe the right outcome if you are living on a low income and don’t own any major assets such as a house. It’s not exactly a risk-free approach though and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
How much do insolvency practitioners like Ashfords charge?
One of the major outgoings you will have to take into account when setting up an IVA are the fees you are likely to be charged by Ashfords.
Ashfords are professional solicitors or accountants and they don’t work on a voluntary basis. A lot will depend on the amount of work they need to undertake to improve your financial situation and reach agreement.
You should be thinking in the region of £5,000 as an average fee and many will insist that you pay them before they set up the IVA and present it to court. This in itself can cause issues if you are having severe money problems.
Ashfords is involved in advising on your debt solution and setting up the IVA by liaising with creditors and the court. But they also oversee the IVA once it is in place making sure that it proceeds properly. This can add future fees to the eventual cost of hiring a practitioner, particularly if you don’t meet the payments.
Alternatives to an Individual Voluntary Arrangement
If you have major debt problems, it’s vital to consider all the options. Before you agree to an IVA, you should make the effort to investigate these and determine whether they are suitable:
- Debt consolidation: This is where you take out one big loan to pay off all your debts. The problem here is that it can difficult to find a provider if you have already damaged your credit rating. Interest rates can also be abnormally high.
- Debt Relief Order (DRO): This is available if you have little in the way of income or assets (less than £1,000). There is a one-off fee of £90 and the debt is written off after a year. You are placed on the insolvency register but the order doesn’t require court approval.
- Debt Management Plan (DMP): There are a number of different debt management companies available and they can help you negotiate lower payments with creditors. This can often be the best solution when debts are just beginning to spiral out of control. Be warned, however, services can vary in the industry and you need to choose your DMP provider well.
- Bankruptcy: The last resort is to declare yourself bankrupt which means handing over your finances to an Official Receiver who will then manage your affairs. This might involve selling assets and setting up an Income Payment Agreement or IPA. Your bankruptcy will also stay on your credit file for six years.
Consider Debt Management
There are very few instances, if any, where debt is so bad that there’s no solution. A lot of people think that they’ve found an answer with using Ashfords for debt management. Ashfords will help you to deal with the issues you might face when it comes to your debts.
So What is Debt Management?
To start off, we need to look at what debt management is and how it will impact you. It can be a pretty big thing to try and wrap your head around, so let’s go from the beginning and take it nice and slow.
So you’ve got debt. It’s this tremendous looking thing that hangs over your head. You’re not entirely sure how it happened, only that it has and it’s got you stuck. So you go online to find a solution, and you think that you’ve got it cracked with a Ashfords.
You see, debt management is a lot like what it sounds like – Ashfords will help you pay off your debts in a manageable and sensible manner. Typically, it’s a three-stage process. Ashfords will abide by these principles:
1. They will calculate all of your existing debt and look at your creditors.
2. By looking at your income and outgoings, they can build up a comprehensive picture of your financial situation.
3. They will take all of your disposable income (what you’ve got after the essential stuff like bills) and then divide it up among your creditors via a pro-rata basis.
What is Pro-Rata?
But wait. What’s pro-rata? Why does it make a difference to your bills? Well, let’s take a look at precisely what it is and how it can help you. Pro-rata means that everyone who is entitled to some of your money, like for example creditors, will receive something according to how much you owe them. For example, let’s say that you had £100 in debt. You owe one company £70 and a different company £30. Each month or week, or whenever a payment was due, the first organisation would get £7 and the second business would get £3.
This system means that there will be less in the way of money going to creditors and paying off loans, but a longer repayment plan, which is good for anyone who wants to avoid spiralling into even more debt to pay off the current debt.
The Next Step – A Debt Management Plan
So let’s take a look at the next step and what it means for your debts. Ashfords will have created a profile on you. They have measured your income, your debt, and your ability. This knowledge has allowed the creation of a debt management plan.
Ashfords will now proceed to contact your creditors. They will approach them with the new figure, explain the situation, and ask for the current interest rates to be frozen so that a new repayment plan can be put into place. Now, if everyone agrees to the debt management plan, it can proceed.
Understanding Debt Consolidation
You must understand that the construction of a plan of this nature will involve you having to commit to a debt consolidation in some instances. However, if you do not understand what that is, you will not be able to proceed with the right knowledge.
Debt consolidation is where Ashfords will take all of your loans and collect them into one sum. To do this, they pay off all of your credits to various companies, and then begin a new repayment plan which is between you and them.
You might question why this is helpful. However, doing so will remove all of the interest that you accumulate on the different loans, and spread the payments out over a more extended time period to ensure more financial breathing room.
How do I know if Ashfords is the right company to management my debt?
So now that you understand the processes which go into picking out a debt management company, you should make sure that you are choosing the best company for your needs. This can be tough if you’re not sure how to find the optimal business to work with, so let’s look at some things you should keep in mind.
When picking a company, you should look for those organisations which seem to be trustworthy. Look at their reviews and testimonials from other clients if you can it’ll give you a good idea as to whether you can trust them.
You should also look for those organisations which offer a good fee. After all, you do not want to find yourself in even more debt simply for trying to pay off an existing loan. It’s also wise to speak to companies and find out if they have additional fees – being prepared is important for a swift resolution.
Top Tips For Clearing a Debt Management Plan
So it can be something of a challenge for people who want to clear off a debt management plan when they don’t know what goes into one. It’s easy to find yourself getting worried about all of the different factors that go into your plan. So here are some tips for clearing one off quickly.
First of all, make a suitable budget. Time and time again, people don’t make a budget for their debts and wind up having no money for the things that give life meaning – like a night out with friends or some new clothes to replace your old ones. To get the most out of your debt management plan, make a good budget that accounts for your monthly payments.
Another thing you can do is figure out what ‘essential items’ are. A lot of people justify a spending habit by saying it’s ‘essential items’, when the truth is, they could live without it. If you’re someone who does this, it’s time to reassess and rethink things. Try and figure out what exactly you need to live. Does it include a weekly shopping trip? No, probably not! It’s easy to cut down on what you spend once you have established what the priorities are.
Keep Track of your Debt Management Plan
When you’ve got a debt management plan, it can be so tempting to step back and let the professionals handle things. But you need to be on the ball even when Ashfords is handling your debt for you! Here are a few ideas and tips for making sure that you remain aware of what’s going on at all times.
Always make sure you know how much is going out in the way of money. It’s easy to find yourself accepting that a certain amount of money will go out of your account every day and there’s not much you can do about it. To try and change this, you need to make sure that you watch the account like a hawk.
Something else that you should think about is when you’re getting updates about your plan. Ashfords will get in contact every few months, whereas others will not let you know what’s going on until a problem arises. That’s not good for someone who’s stressing about their money. If you’re ever unsure about how things are progressing, get in contact with the Ashfords and ask them for an update.
Finally, always try and put aside any money that you can for emergencies. It can be easy just to accept a world where you don’t have a lot because you’re paying off loans, but what about bonuses and the extra income? That should either be used to pay off more of the loan or to put aside for an emergency fund. Don’t waste it.
Things to Consider With a Ashfords Debt Management Plans
A Ashfords debt management plan can be simple, easy to sort out and a good way to consolidate all of your loans and get financial breathing room. But don’t be fooled – there can be a lot of things to think about with your loan.
First of all, remember that a debt management plan can be a financially challenging situation. You might find yourself without the money to be as frivolous with your food or your entertainment. You might find that there are things you can’t do for a little while because you’ve not got the money required. Don’t worry; it’s only temporary! But a lot of people borrow a small amount to have that freedom, and it’s not something you should think about – more debt won’t end well.
You should also consider that the agreement you take out with a debt management plan is an informal one, and there’s nothing to stop creditors contacting you outside of the situation. They might ask you for more payments and to offer up a little bit of extra money to get the loan paid off faster. It can be tempting to make all the headaches go away if you’re constantly harassed by another company, but you have to stay strong.
When you’ve got a budget lined up and ready to go, you can begin to understand why it wouldn’t be smart to cave to the demands of the company and put more money into your loan. If you focus instead on trying to pay the monthly amount in the debt management plan, you’ll be okay.
Finally, remember that a plan like this is a long-term investment. You’re not going to pay this off quickly, so you need to focus on pace. Remember that you’ll be making monthly instalments for quite some time, so try and adjust to a life which is a little more financially restricted.
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement with Ashfords is a good solution if you have debts of £10,000 or more with two or more creditors and are unable to meet your obligations. It’s not without risks, however, especially if you are unable to meet the repayments.
So eventually, you will come to the end of the debt management plan. Your existing financial requirements will have been met, and you can go back to having your full disposable income available to you. Hopefully, it’s served as a lesson. You’ll end the contract with the Ashfords, and you’ll be free.
Hopefully, you’ll also emerge from this period with a renewed appreciation for financial stability. Getting into debt is never fun, and a lot of people spend their whole lives dealing with it. If you want to stop this from happening, you’re going to need to focus on better financial habits.
To summarise, there is no doubt that a Ashfords debt management plan can be a good choice for you. You’ve got to decide what you think is important when it comes to your essential items for everyday life, and you should also take care to be more financially responsible. It’s not easy to do, and we appreciate that, but the results can be incredible.
While a Ashfords debt management plan can be a good idea, you need to know that it’s not without risks. You can find yourself having to pay a lot each month and be left without a massive disposable income. Social activities can be put on halt, and you might find that you’re struggling to get the best possible quality products.
The best strategy for avoiding a debt management plan is to make sure that you are avoiding debt in the first place. Try and stay away from loans and spending too much – learn to live within your means. If you can do these things, it becomes easy to avoid debt. Something to remember is that a debt management scheme is not a means to an end. It’s all about making sustainable choices that will help you to change your financial habits.