Number of Scots facing financial hardship on the rise

The number of people facing financial hardship has increased in Scotland, according to official statistics published on Wednesday.

Insolvenvies are on the rise in Scotland

A report by the Scottish insolvency service Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) indicates the total number of personal insolvencies recorded in the third quarter for 2018-2019 was 3,198.

It represents an increase of 18% on the same period for 2017-2018, when the figure was 2,707.

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The total number of personal insolvencies is calculated by combining bankruptcies, a legal declaration that someone cannot pay their debts and protected trust deeds (PTDs), which is a form of insolvency that transfers a debtor’s estate to a trustee to be realised for the benefit of creditors.

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The figures state there were 1,217 bankruptcies during the quarter, a 9.9% increase on the same quarter in 2017-18, while PTDs increased by 24% to 1,981.

There was also an increase in the number of people who applied for a debt payment programme (DPP), which is approved under the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

It recorded 668 DPPs were approved in quarter three, an increase on the 570 approvals in the same quarter the previous year.

Less money was repaid through DAS during the quarter, with a total of £9.1 million repaid, compared with £9.5 million in 2017-18.

There was also an increase in the number of Scottish registered companies that became insolvent or entered receivership during the period.

In the third quarter, 209 companies became insolvent, compared with 201 in 2017-18.

The figures were produced in accordance with the professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Tim Cooper, chairman of insolvency firm R3 in Scotland, said: “Annual numbers of personal insolvencies in Scotland have been rising every year since 2015, and 2018 continues this trend.

“Ten years on from the start of the global financial crisis, many people have reached the limits of their borrowing capacity, and are tired of being in debt.

“While this rise in personal insolvency is troubling, there is a silver lining in that there has been, to an extent, a shift in the culture around debt.

“People now are more willing to talk about their personal finance problems, and to seek help and advice, rather than bottling everything up until it escalates to a degree that can no longer be ignored.

“There is more progress to be made on this, but anything which makes it easier for people to address financial problems is to be welcomed.

“The sooner that someone in financial distress reaches out for help, the more can be done to resolve their situation.”

Eileen Blackburn, of French Duncan LLP, said: “Some of this debt could still be a hangover from the financial crash of 2008 or have simply built up over a number of years and is now insurmountable.

“It is an indication of just how deep-rooted serious debt now is within Scottish society.

“Personal insolvency has become normalised and more commonplace.

“Individuals who find themselves with long term debt which never reduces are in serious financial trouble and should seek advice.

“Nobody needs to live with this level of indebtedness and there are ways of getting out of this debt.

“Those who feel that their financial position is out of control should immediately seek help before they become an unfortunate insolvency statistic.”