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7th August 2013

If you’ve been struggling with personal debt in Ireland the options to deal with it have been extremely limited. Bankruptcy (with extreme consequences), an informal debt management plan, or a move to a different country with less severe insolvency rules have been the only real constructive ways to move forwards. Unsurprisingly many people have done nothing at all, effectively trapped with debts that simply cannot be repaid.

The Government has now stepped in to create a range of formal debt management plans in Ireland. The infrastructure for these new debt management arrangements is nearly in place and access to the newly created solutions is likely to begin later this month.

What are the options? As would be expected much depends upon the circumstances:

In the UK those with limited debt levels, little disposable income and few assets tend to look towards a Debt Relief Order (or LILA sequestration in Scotland). The loosely equivalent measure in Ireland will be a Debt Relief Notice.

Debt Settlement Arrangements in Ireland might be compared to an IVA (or protected trust deed in Scotland). To qualify for this option you need to be able to contribute towards your debts, usually from surplus income or the sale of assets. Any debts that aren’t repaid will be written off at the end of the agreed duration of the plan.

Personal Insolvency Arrangements are quite unlike any debt solution that currently exists in the UK. A PIA could potentially deal with secured debts as well as unsecured. This measure, an alternative to bankruptcy, is intended to offer relief to the many thousands of Irish homeowners that have found that they are trapped due to high mortgage payments and significant negative equity.

A member of the Debt Management Plan Forum advice team has been involved in creating a new Irish personal insolvency forum that can be used by anyone that is looking to find out more about the new debt management options.  As with our own debt forum, subject experts will be available to answer questions and requests for information that are made by the public.

It is also possible to set up informal debt management plans in Ireland. It should however be remembered that such arrangements are informal and subject to change. The flexibility of this will suit some people, but many people will consider that the inherent risks of an informal plan are a good reason to find out more about the new personal insolvency alternatives.

The new debt management options available in Ireland should lead to major improvements in the way that people are able to address debt problems that have become insurmountable. It does however remain to be seen at this stage how well they will work in practice.

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Beverley Budsworth Phil Corfield Debt Management Plan Expert DMP Adviser
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