What is the Debt Arrangement Scheme?
The debt arrangement scheme (DAS in Scotland) is a statutory debt management plan, introduced by the Scottish Government in 2004 to help individuals repay their debts in full.
If you need a helping hand to get out of debt, DAS could be a suitable option for you. Under DAS, you apply for a debt payment programme (DPP) that allows you to pay off your debts free from interest, fees and charges over an extended period of time, ensuring payments are affordable whilst giving you protection against legal action from your creditors and safeguarding your assets, like the family home.
The debt arrangement scheme in Scotland is a viable alternative to other forms of debt relief such as protected trust deeds or, minimal asset process or sequestration.
How does DAS work?
If you choose to enter into a DPP under DAS, the first steps involve your money adviser proposing the DPP to your creditors. A DPP under DAS is proposed to creditors in the following way:
- Proposals are sent to all known creditors giving them 21 days to accept or reject the proposal.
- If no creditors reject the proposal, then the DPP is approved automatically.
- If creditors reject the proposal and they are owed up to 10% of the total debt, then the DPP application will be automatically approved.
- If one or more creditors reject the proposal and they are owed more than 10% of the total debt, then the DPP can still be approved if the proposal is judged to be ‘fair and reasonable’ by the DAS Administrator (the Government agency responsible for DAS).
- If the DPP proposal is not approved, then you have a right of appeal, however, you may need to consider other solutions such as a protected trust deed or bankruptcy.
Following approval, it is possible that your circumstances may change whilst you are in your DPP, in which case the DPP may be varied to accommodate these changes. The steps involved include:
- Your Money Adviser will prepare an updated DPP proposal and present this to your creditors – the same 10% rule described above applies to a variation of a proposal and the DAS Administrator will apply a ‘fair and reasonable’ test, if required.
- If your proposed variation is not approved, then you have a right of appeal, however, you may need to look at other solutions such as a protected trust deed or bankruptcy.
If you experience financial difficulties during the period of your DPP, the following help is available to you:
- You could be granted a one-month payment break, to allow you to pay for an emergency expense – you can have 2 payment breaks in any 12-month rolling period.
- If you need a longer payment break as a result of, for example, illness or unemployment then this could be provided for a period of up to 6 months, this type of payment break can be applied for as many times as is required during your DPP provided you meet the necessary criteria.
How long will my DPP last?
- A DPP can last for any reasonable length of time (normally up to 10 years) under the terms of the debt arrangement scheme, depending on the level of debt and how much you can afford to pay.
Who can act as my Money Adviser for DAS?
- Only qualified Money Advisers can advise on and manage a DPP under DAS – a Money Adviser may be employed by a Citizens Advice Bureau, local authority or the Money Adviser can be an Insolvency Practitioner (or suitably qualified member of their staff)
- The Money Adviser at Harper McDermott is Thomas Fox and we have an experienced team working with him to ensure our clients receive the best possible level of customer service.
Is the Debt Arrangement Scheme suitable for me?
- The debt arrangement scheme (DAS) may typically be suitable for you if you have money left over at the end of each month (after you’ve paid your normal outgoings such as food shopping, rent/mortgage and utility bills) and you can clear your debts in a reasonable amount of time.
- The easiest way to find out whether the debt arrangement scheme may be a suitable option for you is to get in touch with our debt advice team.
- You can only apply for DAS if you live in Scotland.