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Coronavirus: Important advice for people in a Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

If you are in a Debt Arrangement Scheme and struggling to make a payment because of a drop in income due to coronavirus, speak to your money adviser and they can arrange a payment break for you. If, for whatever reason, you cannot access your money adviser Citizens Advice Scotland has developed a helpful guide which outlines the steps you can take to request a payment break yourself. 

This guidance is aimed at people who are in a Debt Payment Programme (DPP) under the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS).

If you are experiencing difficulty in maintaining payments due to Covid 19 then please do not worry. There are a number of things that can be done to help you and this guidance will talk you through it.

In the first instance, if you think that you are going to miss your payment or have to cancel it due to Covid 19 please try and contact your original money adviser. They can apply for a short term payment break on your behalf that can give you up to 2 months’ breathing space.

If you find that you cannot access your adviser either because they are unwell or you cannot get through to them, you can make an individual application for a longer payment break of up to 6 months from the DAS Administrator (Accountant in Bankruptcy). This process requires a little more work but here is what you need to do:

First, you must match the criteria to be eligible for a longer payment break. These are:

1. Your disposable income has reduced by more than 50%

2. That you have been affected by a change in circumstances. The most likely that relate to Covid 19 would be:

a) The onset of unemployment or change in employment, this would include being furloughed (i.e. sent home from work under the government scheme to pay employees 80% of their wages during Covid 19) or changes to wages

b) Leave from employment for maternity, paternity, adoption or to care for a dependant.

c) A period of illness

d) Death of someone that you share care with includes caring and financial responsibilities

Second, here’s how to apply:

Step 1. Work out how much your income has reduced

Take away the income you are now getting from the income you had before things changed.

This will give you the shortfall in your overall income.

Step 2. Turn the shortfall into a percentage

Divide the shortfall you worked out in step 1 by your original income and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
If the answer is more than 50% and you have had one of the changes of circumstances mentioned above (i.e. unemployment, leave to care, a period of illness, death of someone you share care with), then you qualify for a payment break of up to 6 months.

Example
Step 1: Original income was £2,000. Reduced income is £800.

£2,000 - £800 = £1,200 difference in income

Step 2: Use a calculator to divide the difference in income by your original income and then multiply by 100
£1,200 / £2,000 x 100 = 60%

In this case the decrease in income is greater than 50% so you will qualify for a payment holiday if you have had a change in circumstances (I.e. illness, change in work, leave to look after a dependant, death of someone you shared caring or financial responsibilities with).

Step 3: Apply to the Accountant in Bankruptcy

You can apply on-line or in writing.

On-line 

Use this link to apply on-line. https://www.aib.gov.uk/quick-guide-das-client-change-circumstances-payment-break-application

In writing

Use this link to print off an application form https://www.aib.gov.uk/das-application-payment-break and send to DAS Administrator, 1 Pennyburn Road, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, KA13 6SA. 

Any request for a payment break has to be agreed by your creditors. They have 3 weeks to approve the break. If they don’t agree it the DAS Administrator will look at the decision and decide whether it is fair and reasonable. Once this process has been completed the DAS administrator will contact you and let you know the outcome.

More information on what the AiB is doing for DAS clients during the pandemic is here https://www.aib.gov.uk/aib-covid-19-business-continuity while specific information on DAS with regard payments and accessing money advisers can be found here https://www.aib.gov.uk/das-covid-19-emergency-information

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