Individual bankruptcies are at their highest level since late 1993, official figures have shown.
Personal debt levels have soared
The number of Britons going bankrupt has jumped by nearly a third during the past year as personal debt levels have reached new highs.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said there were 10,271 individual insolvencies in England and Wales between October and December 2003.
During the same three-month period in 2002, 7,967 people were bankrupted.
What is more, according to independent economic consultancy Capital Economics, personal bankruptcy levels could be at their highest since records began in 1960.
Capital Economics say that if the record-high 1993 first-quarter bankruptcy figure of 10,942 is seasonally adjusted it would work out lower than the figure for the fourth-quarter of 2003.
However, the number of firms collapsing is on the decrease.
The DTI figures showed that 3,316 companies went bust between October and December compared with 3,386 for the previous quarter.
Mike Jervis, partner at the Business Recovery Services practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "Increased consumer spending is filtering through to businesses with a significant fall in company failures.
"However, the increase in consumer debt has led to record levels of personal insolvencies."