Two deals on debts: People overwhelmed by debt can spare themselves the humiliation of official insolvency, writes Sue Fieldman

THE Weatherills, Peter and Katherine, live in Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex. They used to run a building contracting company, which had been established for many years.

'The bulk of our work came from Brighton Council,' Mrs Weatherill explained, 'and when that work dried up, things got really difficult. In May of last year, everything began to look very dismal, indeed.'

Bankruptcy was on the cards. But the couple decided instead to each have an IVA.

'We decided to jump before we got pushed. We saved face, and at least the creditors got something out of it,' said Mrs Weatherill.

The creditors received 47p in the pound. In the case of a bankruptcy they would have received perhaps 15p in the pound. And the cost of the IVA was pounds 8,400, compared with pounds 12,700 for a bankruptcy.

The couple said they were more than pleased by the way things had worked out - other than the loss of their Jaguar.

STEPHEN is a financial adviser who got his own finances into an awful mess.

'It was very stressful both for me and my wife,' he recalled. 'I dreaded coming home to look at the mail and see all those debts accumulating.'

When he realised that the situation was becoming desperate, he sought advice. He found that many of the debt-handling firms he talked to wanted to charge a fee before doing any work. 'If you are going under in the first place, there is no way you can pay fees,' he said.

He decided to get an IVA, and today says that it was the best thing he could have done.

'The creditors are happy now and I have learned some lessons. If I had gone personally bankrupt, my company would not have allowed me to work. I can even say my marriage is better for the experience.'