DRO – Debt Relief Order – Changes – July 2021

Thousands more people who are struggling in problem debt will be able to apply for their payments to be written off after an extension on current rules came into force at the end of June 2021. Debt Relief Orders (DROs) can now be used if you owe a maximum of £30,000, up from the previous limit of £20,000.

It means people will be given greater options if they are in arrears, including on bills such as council tax. People in debt with £75.00 or less leftover each month after covering bills and everyday expenses will be able to get a DRO – previously the amount was set at £50.00. Those with savings or assets worth £2,000 or less are now eligible for a DRO, this was previously £1,000.

A DRO means you do not have to repay debts for an agreed period, usually a year, and creditors cannot act against you. Previously the limit to apply for a debt relief order was £20,000 and anyone with debts over this amount had to go for a more complicated individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or bankruptcy.

It is estimated that around 13,000 people a year will now be eligible for a DRO, although the support costs a one-off payment of £90.00 to access. The change to DRO rules follows a consultation by the insolvency service earlier this year. It also includes a doubling of the limit on the value of assets owned to be eligible.

DROs are aimed at people with relatively low levels of unmanageable debt who have nothing to offer their creditors, such as assets or disposable income, and for whom bankruptcy would be a disproportionate response. The order freezes your debt repayments and interest for a year. If your financial situation has not changed at the end of this period, then all the debts included will be written off.

Commenting on the news, Martin Kingman, CEO with Professional Legal Collections Ltd, said: “A Debt Relief Order is simpler and cheaper than other debt options. It you qualify then it is always a better option for you than an Individual Voluntary Arrangement as you do not have to make any monthly payments in a DRO, compared to paying for five or six years in an IVA”.

To get a DRO you will need to apply through a trained adviser who can make the application on your behalf to the Insolvency Service. The application costs £90.00 and can either be accepted, deferred until there is more information, or declined.

If you are turned down, you will be told why, and you can appeal the decision. If you are accepted, you will not have to make payments on the debts and the creditors will not be able to take any action against you, with two exceptions: landlords if you are in rent arrears and bailiffs who have taken your belongings. Other bills not included in the DRO will have to be paid as usual. If you are searching for more short-term support, you may qualify for a 60-day “breathing space” instead. This protects you from prosecution and bailiffs for up to two months.

A debt charity such as Citizens Advice or the National Debtline can help you. We are also here to offer guidance and support.


Why You Can Trust Professional Legal Collections (PLC Debt)

I am often asked by prospective customers and new contacts how do I know that I am using a legitimate firm and that firm will act in our best interest when recovering our debts?

I always maintain that as a starting point you need to understand the values of the firm that you are instructing and the identity of the people behind it and their values.  As an example, as a business, Professional Legal Collections prides itself on its professionalism and its mirroring of your ethos so that we become an extension of your business.  As the owner of the business, I am a qualified lawyer and have been working in law for 20 years.  I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management.  This means I have professional qualifications and years of direct experience in the field.  This should provide some confidence and credibility as Fellowship is the top level of these Institutes and is not just given away. I hold an annual practising certificate which means I must keep my skills and knowledge up to date by undertaking continued professional development and every year to the exacting standards set by the Institute. So many other debt recovery firms are run by unqualified people who have no grounding in law to fully understand the complete and complex needs of their client.

In addition to this is the need for honesty and integrity.  We pride ourselves on building long-term lasting relationships and we are not interested in ripping clients off with extortionate fees or any form of membership scheme to become one of our clients.  Recently we became aware of a debt recovery firm who charged over £2,000 to take on a new client, after being paid this they did very little if anything to collect the debts and the client was deeply unhappy.  The client came to us and we recovered the debt for them with little issue or effort required which affirmed our suspicions that once these initial fees have been paid these firms are not genuinely interested in recoveries, they are simply interested in making fees.  This will never be the position of Professional Legal Collections; it is not only unethical it is also completely unacceptable.

Finally, the debt recovery business needs to be accessible to speak to you when you need them. The use of technology is fantastic and streamlines processes but this cannot replace a skilled person. Each case is different, therefore at certain milestones, human intervention is required to understand and appreciate all the elements and aspects of that case and then to consider and advise on what is the best option going forward for that client, it is not a one size fits all solution.  We fully maximise the use of technology to streamline where possible whilst always making sure that our skilled staff have the necessary information to make informed decisions and provide you with tailored advice.

If you are not using Professional Legal Collections then we urge you to question the credibility and plausibility of your current debt recovery firm as they are representing you and your business and you need to be entirely sure that you will entrust them with your reputation for them to carry out a professional job in a legal and ethical manner.  We value that we say what we do and we are completely authentic in this and we welcome any client who challenges us to demonstrate our skills and prove our credentials to reassure them that we the best solution for them when collecting debt or providing specialist insolvency advice.


Martin Kingman (FCILEx, FCICM)