Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

More people and firms going bust

Stadium Chalk and Crayon say the company faces insolvency

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people and companies being declared insolvent in England and Wales, government figures show.

Individual insolvencies went up by 8.8% in the third quarter of the year to reach 27,087.

Corporate liquidations also went up by 10.5% in the same period, to 4,001.

The increases have been widely predicted because of this year's sudden economic downturn and the consequent rise in unemployment.

The rising trend started this year as the economy stated to slowdown under the impact of the credit crunch.


The number of firms being liquidated is now up by 26.3% on a year ago.

Bankruptcy: The traditional way of escaping overwhelming debt. Ends after one year, but you are likely to lose all your assets including your house to pay something to the creditors
Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA): A deal between you and your creditors, overseen by an insolvency practitioner. Less stigma, less chance of losing your home, but involves paying some of your debts in one go or over a number of years

"The dramatic increase in corporate insolvencies in Q3 2008 continues a trend that we believe will accelerate well into 2009 as companies are hit by the dual blows of a continuing credit squeeze and depressed demand," warned the accountancy firm Ernst & Young.

Many more corporate liquidations appear to be in the pipeline.

The number of receiverships, administrations and company voluntary arrangements, which are normally an attempt to rescue an insolvent business rather than shut it down, rose to 1,444.

That was 65% higher than a year ago, the government's Insolvency Service said.

"The increase over the year is fairly evenly spread among the different types of procedure," said Catherine Matthews, a partner at the insolvency firm Tomlinsons.

"But there is a definite trend towards procedures instigated by directors as they try to deal with their problems themselves," she said.


Among the individuals going insolvent, there were 17,341 bankruptcies and 9,746 individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) in the last quarter - 4.6% more than there were twelve months ago.

Cash, cards and bills
The increase in insolvencies had been widely expected

Individual insolvencies had in fact fallen in the second quarter of this year, but are now rising again.

"For bankruptcy orders there has been a pronounced shift towards debtor's petition bankruptcies [people declaring themselves bankrupt] and away from creditor's petitions in recent years," said the Insolvency Service."

Catherine Matthews explained that this might be linked to the reduced length of time that people stay bankrupt.

"This is possibly due to the cut in the bankruptcy term to 12 months, and the general downturn in the property market which has undermined the only asset some people might have had."

A leading economic consultancy predicted that bankruptcies would continue to rise.

"With the full effects of the credit crunch and rising unemployment yet to be felt, bankruptcies are set to soar over the coming two or three years," said Capital Economics.

"We expect the number of personal insolvencies to rise from around 110,000 this year to around 140,000 in 2009 and even further thereafter."

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