Number of people going insolvent jumps to highest level since 2012

The Bank of England could raise the base rate again soon

The Bank of England could raise the base rate again soon

Friday, April 27, 2018

The number of people going insolvent in England and Wales reached its highest levels in more than five years in the first three months of 2018, figures from the Insolvency Service show.

There were 27,388 personal insolvencies in the first quarter of 2018 - the highest quarterly figure since the third quarter of 2012.

The increase was mainly driven by an increase in individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), which reached a record high, while the number of bankruptcies and debt relief orders also increased, the Insolvency Service said.

Within the total, there were 16,676 IVAs, 6,524 debt relief orders (DROs) and 4,188 bankruptcies.

The Insolvency Service said it was the largest quarterly number of IVAs since they were introduced in 1987.

IVAs are agreements whereby money owed is shared out between creditors. DROs are aimed at people with less than £20,000 of debt and no realistic prospect of paying it off, and bankruptcies tend to be seen as a "last resort".

The Insolvency Service said the number of personal insolvencies in the first quarter of 2018 was 6.8% higher than in the previous quarter and 8.5% higher than in the same quarter the previous year.

Concerns have been raised that some households may be at risk of over-stretching their borrowing, following some recent strong growth in consumer credit.

The Bank of England increased the base rate from 0.25% to 0.5% in November and the rate could move again soon, adding more strain to some borrowers' finances.

Duncan Swift, vice-president of insolvency and restructuring body R3, said: "IVAs are typically associated with consumer debts.

"Given the pressures people's personal budgets have been under, this is perhaps not a surprising result.

"Although wage rises are starting to outpace inflation again, this will have come too late for some who have gone a long time without a real pay rise.

"And, as we've said before, while employment rates are high, there are thousands of people in insecure roles, which can make it hard for people to budget.

"The continued availability of cheap credit has made a build-up of consumer credit affordable for some, but not everyone is able to service their debt, even with such low interest rates."