The Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) 2004 Regulations introduced a debt relief product which was designed to help Scottish residents stay in control of escalating debt without having to follow formal insolvency procedures. It allows debtors to repay monies owed in full without threats of legal action from creditors.
The legislation made it compulsory for debtors in Scotland to receive money advice from professional advisors, whose job it is to establish the most appropriate debt relief product using Scotland’s ‘Common Financial Tool.’
Advisors adhere to the same financial calculations and criteria when dealing with all debtors, and if DAS is found to be the best way forward, a manageable repayment amount will be decided upon.
Eligibility for DAS
Scottish residents with personal unsecured debt they are struggling to repay are eligible to apply. They need to commit to making regular payments until the debt is repaid in full as DAS is not a route into insolvency, it is a way to regain control of a poor financial situation. Debtors in Scotland who are currently bankrupt or in an active Trust Deed are not eligible. Nor are people unlikely to repay their debts in full, even if given this extended repayment time.
Advice and guidance from an approved money advisor
An approved money advisor must provide advice to debtors before they apply for any formal debt help in Scotland. An advisor will review the debtor’s income, assets and debts to let them know the most appropriate route. They will then guide the application process, formulate a Statement of Affairs which covers the debtor’s financial position, and send it to the Accountant in Bankruptcy along with the application form.
Types of debt that can be included in a Debt Payment Program
Unsecured debts will form the major part of a DPP. Unsecured debt generally includes personal loans, bank overdrafts, payday loans and credit card borrowing. A 2013 amendment to the Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2011, now allows for mortgage arrears to be included in a Debt Payment Program. Debts that are omitted include student loans and court fines.
Calculation of repayments
Repayment calculations are based on the amount of residual income after household bills have been met. These include mortgage or rent payments, food, utility bills, clothing, council tax, and other essential bills.
Timescale for a Debt Payment Program
There is no specific timescale for a DPP – it depends on individual circumstances, and could run for around eight years or more depending on the levels of debt and repayment amounts.
Agreement from creditors
Agreement to the Debt Payment Program needs to be obtained from all creditors, although in some cases the Accountant in Bankruptcy has the power to overrule creditors and pass the DPP regardless.
Inclusion in the public DAS Register
One requirement of entering a Debt Arrangement Scheme is the inclusion of your DPP in the public DAS Register. This means that your financial situation is no longer private, as the online register can be accessed free of charge by members of the public. Details held include your full name, date of birth, home address and any business addresses.
Failure to adhere to the DPP
Failing to make at least three agreed payments on time can lead to a revocation of the Debt Payment Program. This would enable creditors to take legal action against you, and potentially backdate all interest and charges. A revocation may also occur if you subsequently apply for your own sequestration.