More Scots have accessed statutory personal debt solutions, with numbers increasing from the recent low levels in 2015-16. In the three months between 1 April and 30 June 2017, total personal insolvencies, which include awards of bankruptcy and protected trust deeds, increased by 17.3% from 2,420 in the same quarter a year ago to 2,839.
Awards of bankruptcy increased from 1,159 in the first quarter of 2016-17 to 1,289 in the current quarter, a rise of 11.2%. Protected trust deeds rose 22.9% over the same period from 1,261 a year ago to 1,550.
Personal insolvencies in Scotland have more than halved since 2008-09, and the numbers fell in early 2015-16, the first months after the introduction of new legislation on 1 April 2015. Approved debt payment programmes under the Scottish Government-backed Debt Arrangement Scheme were also up, rising 16.8% from 511 in the first quarter of 2016-17 to 597. A total of £9.4 million was repaid through DAS this quarter, which is up from £9.3 million repaid in the same quarter of 2016-17, and also up from the £9.2 million repaid during the previous quarter.
DAS allows debtors to pay their debts in full without facing insolvency. Almost 500 debtors paid off their debts in full through DAS, with 482 DAS debt payment programmes completed, up from 423 in the previous quarter and the 364 completed in the same quarter a year ago.
Commenting on the latest figures, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said “On the personal insolvency front, there is no question that continuing austerity has led to incomes being squeezed and more people suffering the anxiety and distress of insolvency as a result. But it is nevertheless important we acknowledge that the longer term trend of people accessing statutory debt relief and debt management solutions is a declining one and numbers of people falling into insolvency are around half of the levels reported at the turn of the decade.”
”The Scottish Government will work tirelessly to protect those individuals facing financial hardship by working towards reducing poverty and inequalities in Scotland. By investing in financial education and backing debt management products such as the pioneering Debt Arrangement Scheme, we aim to provide all in Scotland methods to be able to handle their finances more effectively.”
Commenting on the Scottish Insolvency Statistics, April to June 2017 (Q1 201718), Tim Cooper, Chair of R3 in Scotland, the insolvency trade body says “Personal insolvencies are continuing the rising trend seen over the past two years. As Scotland’s unemployment rate is at a 25-year low, the rise is perhaps a little counter-intuitive. But looking beyond the headline unemployment rate, the number of economically inactive people in Scotland has risen since 2016, meaning that more people are on fixed incomes, and thus on the whole more exposed to higher inflation.
“The supply of consumer credit is – at the moment – fairly plentiful; but should this situation change, and credit become more expensive and harder to obtain, we might see a further rise in personal insolvencies. Research by R3 and ComRes found that 64% of Scottish adults are not at all worried about their current level of debt, higher than the average for all British adults of 59%. However, 43% of Scottish adults say they often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday, which is three percentage points higher than the average for all British adults.’