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  • FIRST POST
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 19th Oct 17, 9:20 PM
    • 7Posts
    • 0Thanks
    Twubble
    Self Employed DRO
    • #1
    • 19th Oct 17, 9:20 PM
    Self Employed DRO 19th Oct 17 at 9:20 PM
    Hi

    I've been reading the forum for a few months, but this is the first time I have posted. I did just type out a post and thought I had submitted it, but it's showing that I've not posted at all, so I'm assuming I did something wrong.

    To cut a long story short, after losing my job (contract ending and company not doing well), I have to apply for a DRO. I know that I qualify, having already carried out all the research, and reading all through these forums where there is plenty of great advice.

    I had built up the courage to apply so contacted StepChange, only to be told that as I am self employed (now) they can't help me, so put me in touch with another agency. But looking at all the new information and questions put me into flight mode, so I went back to burying my head again!

    What sent me running is that although I am self employed, I am not running a business. I am simply taking on (very low paid) typing jobs through a US agency and getting paid for jobs done. All the questions were about running a business, and that totally confused me and scared me silly. I am, however, registered as self employed.

    But I'm getting phone calls and letters each day as I was unable to (for the first time) make my monthly payments on my credit cards, etc, last month. I'm now entering the second month of not paying, and I'm so scared.

    So I'm hoping that someone can advise me who it is best to go through to apply for a DRO? I know I definitely qualify, and it's not something I'm finding easy to do, but I don't have a choice any longer. I've been struggling with debt for years, and it just gets worse and worse as I had to use credit to survive after paying my debt payments each month.

    So, who is it best for me to go through for a DRO, and how long is it taking at the moment. I need to deal with this. I'm so scared and panicky all the time. I'm a single mam with no family for support, and I can't just keep hiding from this.

    Your help is much appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
Page 1
    • fatbelly
    • By fatbelly 19th Oct 17, 9:36 PM
    • 11,646 Posts
    • 8,779 Thanks
    fatbelly
    • #2
    • 19th Oct 17, 9:36 PM
    • #2
    • 19th Oct 17, 9:36 PM
    CAB and stepchange do most of them but the full list is here

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/getting-a-debt-relief-order/getting-a-debt-relief-order#find-a-debt-adviser

    CAB info is here

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/debt-solutions/debt-relief-orders/
    Last edited by fatbelly; 14-11-2017 at 7:30 PM.
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 19th Oct 17, 9:41 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    • #3
    • 19th Oct 17, 9:41 PM
    • #3
    • 19th Oct 17, 9:41 PM
    Hi.

    Thanks for that, but StepChange aren't doing self employed DROs anymore. I'm unsure if other agencies are still doing them, or if things have totally changed. I had it all worked out which route to go until StepChange dropped that bombshell on me. I don't actually feel I fit in with the business one.
    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 19th Oct 17, 10:11 PM
    • 12,687 Posts
    • 12,030 Thanks
    sourcrates
    • #4
    • 19th Oct 17, 10:11 PM
    • #4
    • 19th Oct 17, 10:11 PM
    Hi,

    Phone calls and letters are about all that will happen for a year or more, so no need to make panic decisions here.

    Would bankruptcy be an option for you, how much do you owe ?
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Credit File And Ratings, and
    Bankruptcy And Living With It, boards. "I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly".
    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.

    For free debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or, CAB.
    For Legal advice see : http://legalbeagles.info/
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 19th Oct 17, 10:23 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    • #5
    • 19th Oct 17, 10:23 PM
    • #5
    • 19th Oct 17, 10:23 PM
    Hi.

    Thanks for that. That's a huge relief. I've been really worrying about this. I can stop panicking a little now.

    I owe just under £13,000 on two credit cards, a store card, an overdraft, a catalogue, and a housing benefit overpayment.

    I have no assets (except for a car valued at around £500), have no chance of things improving for several years. The money I get from the typing is around half UK minimum wage, so I'm working full time to earn the 16 hours minimum for working tax credits. I would probably be better off (or at least the same) financially if I was on Job seekers, but I don't want to be on benefits. I can't explain why I can't just go out and get another job, as I'm in a bit of a unique situation, but I need to work (pride) and so this is the only option at this time.

    I do qualify for the DRO. I've not looked into bankruptcy. I'm not sure it would be a better option for me.

    Thank you so much for putting my mind at rest about the letters and phone calls.
    • fatbelly
    • By fatbelly 19th Oct 17, 11:59 PM
    • 11,646 Posts
    • 8,779 Thanks
    fatbelly
    • #6
    • 19th Oct 17, 11:59 PM
    • #6
    • 19th Oct 17, 11:59 PM
    There aren't two sorts of DRO - one for self-employed, one for employed. There is only one. Part of being approved as a 'Competent Authority' was the acceptance that your Intermediaries cannot refuse to submit a DRO when asked but can submit with comments explaining why it was not their advice to do so.

    If you have evidence that stepchange are discriminating against the self-employed and flatly refusing to assist them, then please report them to the Insolvency Service (and use someone else for your DRO)
    • ToxtethO'Grady
    • By ToxtethO'Grady 20th Oct 17, 6:22 AM
    • 80 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    ToxtethO'Grady
    • #7
    • 20th Oct 17, 6:22 AM
    • #7
    • 20th Oct 17, 6:22 AM
    Stepchange would have probably referred to Business Debtline who are a sister organisation of National Debtline who deal exclusively with self-employed clients.
  • National Debtline
    • #8
    • 20th Oct 17, 10:44 AM
    • #8
    • 20th Oct 17, 10:44 AM
    Hi Twubble,


    As you are self employed, as a sole trader, you will need to create a business budget. This is mainly because your income has a degree of flexibility to it so a standard budget plan will not be suitable. You can do that online here - https://tools.businessdebtline.org/yourbudget/ You do ideally need to try and get the budget together first, and then call Business Debtline to go through it. Their number is 0800 197 6026.


    To assess people for a DRO the competent authority would need to do a budget plan and most charities would refer you do that with Business Debtline because you are self employed. Once this is done, and we can confirm you qualify, we can start the application process. There is no need to go bankrupt if you owe less than £20,000 and appear to qualify for the DRO.


    Laura
    @natdebtline
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 20th Oct 17, 12:23 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    • #9
    • 20th Oct 17, 12:23 PM
    • #9
    • 20th Oct 17, 12:23 PM
    Thanks everyone.

    It is Business Debtline that I was told to go, but I couldn't remember the name off the top of my head. I will ring them in the next few days and ask their advice.

    The thing that's concerning me is that I have my budget set up, BUT as I have only just started up as self employed, and as I am claiming Housing Benefit (and will be while doing this work) it's complicating things because as my income goes up, my Housing Benefit (rightly) comes down. This means it's going to be evening out all the time. And sometimes I'll have very quiet weeks where I could spend hours trying to find a suitable typing job, but not finding any that I can actually do (different accents, etc). I do know, though, that there is no way (with this job) that it will give me more than the £50 spare (or even approaching that) in a month to prevent a DRO. I think I need to speak to one of the advisers to see how it's best for me to work my budget to allow for the different levels of Housing Benefit/wages earned. This is the bit that has me stressed out. The personal and basic business budgets are very easy to work out ... it's the adjustments with the HB/income balance that's complicating things. I suppose the Business Debtiline must be used to this, though. I just like to be 100% organised and prepared beforehand, and I can't be. Not as much as I'd like anyway.

    Sourcrates' comment last night about having time to do things, as it will just be letters and phone calls for ages, has really helped me. I don't feel that I have to rush into this now. I can wait another month or two until I have more evidence of my wage and benefit levels fluctuating. My income will be virtually the same every month, but the balance between wage and benefits will vary depending on how much typing work I can get each month.

    Thank you all very much for your help. I will get everything in as much order as I can in the next couple of days, and then call them to see whether they think it's okay to go ahead now, or if I should give it a couple of months to be able to show that it's going to be a more or less steady income.

    I can definitely say that I do feel more relaxed and confident about this now, so thanks again everyone.
    • StopIt
    • By StopIt 20th Oct 17, 12:29 PM
    • 1,449 Posts
    • 1,239 Thanks
    StopIt
    All I can say is don't worry.


    You're not going to be the first, or the last person with variable income/benefits applying for a DRO. The Business Debtline will know how to advise you.


    The only reason you were pointed there was because of your official status as self employed. You cannot be rejected on this basis.


    Like sourcrates said, there's no real need to rush (The application process is up to 8 weeks anyway). Take your time, get the advice you need and it'll be sorted.
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 21st Oct 17, 8:55 AM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    Hi StopIt

    Thanks for that. I'm feeling so much better after coming on here. It's amazing how you blow the little things up so much when you're stressed out. Then you look back and wonder what the fuss was about.

    I'll keep an eye on this thread and come back with updates. It might just help someone else in the same position at some point.
    • fatbelly
    • By fatbelly 21st Oct 17, 9:09 AM
    • 11,646 Posts
    • 8,779 Thanks
    fatbelly
    If the debts are not business debts there is no reason for you to be treated differently from someone unemployed/employed
    • ToxtethO'Grady
    • By ToxtethO'Grady 21st Oct 17, 10:55 AM
    • 80 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    ToxtethO'Grady
    Hi Twubble

    Hope it all goes well for you and as others have said just take your time with it.

    Business Debtline will be able to 'smooth out' your variable income so your budgets, both business and personal, are in the format the DRO team prefer. They should also be able to give you hints and tips and around costs you can claim back as expenses or from your tax; you work from home so you may be able to put your heating/lighting costs against your income. From what you've said you probably earn below the tax threshold so it's more about putting it as an expense that reduces your income.

    They're the best at giving advice around these self-employment areas so that's why the other free debt advice agencies refer to them.

    Thanks for offering to keep us updated, it helps us who give advice, as well as other people in the same situation.
    Last edited by ToxtethO'Grady; 21-10-2017 at 10:56 AM. Reason: missed word
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 4th Dec 17, 4:12 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    Okay ... so I went back to burying my head again since I came on with my questions, and it took until this morning, to finally build the courage to ring Business Debtline. After hanging up once through sheer terror, I rang again, waited to be answered, and then spoke to a really lovely and helpful lady. I had already sorted out my budget, so we ran through it together. She's happy with it, and happy with my situation, and so is sending out my application pack. I have an Experian credit report from around 6 weeks ago, but I've ordered another today, so it's fully up to date. I should more or less be able to send the pack straight back when it arrives, and then it will take some time at their end as they have a backlog. She did tell me it was probably quicker to go through someone else, but as I was turned away by Stepchange for being a sole trader, I told her that a couple of months is fine. She thinks it will be around the end of January, but she doesn't foresee any problems with it going through, so I'm happy with those timings, now that this forum has eased my mind about the length of time it takes for banks, etc, to deal with debts.

    So now I feel massively relieved, and I'm wondering why the heck it took me so much time to make the call. I knew my fears were totally irrational, but ...

    I only have one question at this time, and that is about my bank account. The bank account I am using now (Nationwide Flex Direct) doesn't have an overdraft attached, and I have never had any debts with them. I am wondering whether I would be okay sticking with the Flex Direct or whether I should pay them a visit and get it changed down to the Flex Basic. As there is no overdraft, there's no difference really, as far as I can see. I do want to stick with the Nationwide, if possible, but I'm not sure if things will be safe as they stand. I obviously need to get this sorted out asap. My debts are with Barclaycard, Santander, Argos and Very. I don't think any are connected to Nationwide, or I hope they're not. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. )

    And I just want to add, if anyone is in the same boat as me (sole trader, but only just!), and they're worried about contacting Business Debtline, then don't worry. It's really nowhere near as scary as you think it's going to be! The lady I spoke to couldn't have been nicer and more helpful, and they're totally non judgemental.
    • fatbelly
    • By fatbelly 4th Dec 17, 5:05 PM
    • 11,646 Posts
    • 8,779 Thanks
    fatbelly
    Business Debtline are good.

    So are Nationwide. They are still a building society and as independent as you can get.

    Stick with the account you have. I don't think you'll have any problem
    • Twubble
    • By Twubble 4th Dec 17, 5:40 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Twubble
    That's great news. Thanks for that, Fatbelly. I finally feel like everything will be okay after all. )
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