Debt Relief ORder (DRO)

What is a Debt relief ORder?

A Debt Relief Order or DRO is a formal debt solution, that is free to apply for and is designed to help if you have unaffordable debt, are on a low income and have little to no assets. It is currently available to residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Debts are written off in a DRO, usually after 12 months of successful application.

Criteria for DRO application

There are certain criteria that you must meet in order to apply for a DRO. The criteria is slightly different depending on what region you live in.

In England and Wales:

  • Your total debts cannot exceed £50,000.
  • You must have assets that total no more than £2,000 in value.
  • If you own a car or vehicle, it cannot have a value above £4,000.
  • Your disposable income left over each month must be below £75 (This is your household income minus your bills for expenses and cost of living).

In Northern Ireland:

  • Your total debts cannot exceed £20,000 (Limit is increasing to £50,000 on July 8th 2024).
  • You must have assets that total no more than £1,000 in value (Limit is increasing to £2,000 on July 8th 2024).
  • If you own a car or vehicle, it cannot have a value above £2,000.
  • Your disposable income left over each month must be below £50 (This is set to increase to £75 per month on 8th July 2024).

A Debt Relief Order will last for 1 year, and once it has ended you are released from your debts (with certain exceptions).

If a Debt Relief Order is considered suitable, you will be referred to an approved intermediary*. They will check that your situation fulfils the DRO criteria and will help you complete the online application form. They will submit it on your behalf to a government official called the official receiver. The official receiver then makes the order, if appropriate.

*An approved intermediary is someone who has been approved by a competent authority chosen by the government.

DRO Advantages

  • Your debts will be written off at the end of the Debt Relief Order. There are a few exceptions, as explained in the disadvantages below.
  • None of the creditors listed in the Debt Relief Order application can take further action against you without the court’s permission.
  • It allows you to make a fresh start after
    1 year.
  • There is no fee for application.
  • You will keep your assets and a vehicle as detailed above.
  • The approved intermediary ensures that you are given appropriate advice and that you fit the criteria for a Debt Relief Order.

DRO Disadvantages

  • Your Debt Relief Order is entered on a public register.
  • You can’t have a Debt Relief Order if you have an existing bankruptcy order, an IVA, are subject to bankruptcy restrictions, or if you have had a Debt Relief Order in the last 6 years.
  • You won’t be able to have a Debt Relief Order if you own a house, even if it has no equity (value).
  • You will remain liable to pay certain debts – in particular student loans, fines and some debts arising from family proceedings.
  • Your employment may be affected.
  • Your Debt Relief Order could be revoked (withdrawn) if you don’t co-operate with the official receiver during the year your Debt Relief Order is in force.
  • You can’t act as a director of a company or be involved in its management unless the court agrees.
  • You will be committing an offence if you get credit of £500 or more without disclosing that you are subject to a Debt Relief Order.
  • You may have a debt relief restrictions order* made against you for 2 to 15 years if you acted irresponsibly, recklessly or dishonestly.
    * An order that will place restrictions similar to those in force while subject to a DRO, which the official receiver may apply for.

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IVA Example

Example of an IVA

A couple were jointly paying creditors over £700 per month. We were able to have this payment reduced to £300 per month, with all interest and charges frozen. After 8 months of paying this reduced sum, they proposed to remortgage their home. This was successful and they released £19,000. Their creditors accepted this as a full and final settlement of their debts.

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