I am NOT qualified to give any advice on debt. However, I can tell you about my experience and you can make your own mind up. An IVA is nearly always a bad idea. Especially if you do it through a DMP (Debt Management Plan) facilitated by a third-party company who will cream off even more money.
If your debts are under £20k, then a Debt Relief Order (DRO) is your best option. Research it starting with the official government website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/getting-a-debt-relief-order/getting-a-debt-relief-order
DO NOT EVER pay for anyone to set it up for you. You can do it all online yourself. For me there was a charge of £90 (not sure if that's changed). But all my debts were included in it, (excluding Council Tax and Student Loans), and for 6 years I couldn't get any credit. Which for a gambler is ironically a blessing!
6 years later, (for me March 2019), all my debts which had become unmanageable and the chasing from debt collectors were wiped clean and I now have the space to breathe and rebuild my credit/life!
I concur with Compulsive Gambler that Debt Camel is also an excellent resource to discover more about your options, but from the little I know an IVA is rarely a good idea.
(PS/ 70% of my debts at the time were directly due to gambling, so if I can help explain further what worked for me, then please feel free to ask. You must be careful though because sometimes if it's obvious "sudden" huge loans were taken out on a Tuesday and entirely gambled by Wednesday, then there's certain exemptions to DRO's and even Bankruptcies, so tread carefully)
Here are details for some free professional debt advice services:
National Debtline 0808 808 4000 https://www.nationaldebtline.org/
StepChange 0800 138 1111 https://www.stepchange.org/
PayPlan 0800 280 2816 https://www.payplan.com/
You can find more here: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/get-support/links-to-other-support-agencies/
If you need further information, please call us on our freephone 0808 8020 133 or Netline.
To everyone I would say consider a DRO debt relief order If your debts fall under a certain limit. Over that limit Bankruptcy is an option.
Forget the stigma that some people create. If you are ill with worry a debt write off may well be the only option. Obviously its not a light decision but I know the pain of high debts staring you in the face. The main issue is that the gambling must have stopped with a full monitored recovery
Your mental health is the most important thing and it comes to a stage where you realise that not being able to get credit to high levels is a blessing.
Even after bankruptcy you can start again with a fresh start to a healthy mind. Life goes on and there are firms that will deal with you again at a lower level and let you build up some trust again
I am extremely good with credit now and take pride in that. I never needed the past levels I was borrowing as it just trapped me in a debt trap. I would never overborrow again and I ensure that I keep control and they dont raise my credit limit. There is a serenity in not having what you dont really need and cant afford.
Dismiss the fear about this. One can only afford what is manageable in repayments. If high debts are not affordable they have to be written off rather than make you completely ill over it.
Obviously there are certain rules and conditions but the Citizens advice bureau will help and advise you