Think Money

Think Money

November 09, 2009 06:35 ET

Record insolvencies 'no surprise', say IVA specialists

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 9, 2009) - The increase in the number of insolvencies in the third quarter of the year came as no surprise, according to financial solutions company Think Money.

"In six quarters of recession," said a spokesperson for Think Money, "the economy has shrunk by around 6%, businesses across the UK have been failing at a startling rate - and at an individual level, the consequences have simply proved too much for many thousands of households.

"The Q3 insolvencies figures, unfortunately, lived up to our negative expectations, with the quarterly total of individual insolvencies passing the 35,000 mark for the first time ever."

The figures showed that 35,242 people were declared insolvent in the third quarter of 2009. This was a significant rise on the 33,073 in the previous quarter, and over 28% higher than in the third quarter of 2008.

"Basically, the recession has meant that too many things have gone wrong for too many people," the spokesperson continued.

"In the three months to August, the official unemployment figure rose to 7.9%, and many of the people still in work are working shorter hours and/or for less money. Given the high levels of spending and borrowing we've seen over the last decade or so, any reduction in income was bound to cause problems, even among people who didn't particularly consider themselves over-indebted - as long as they had the income to cover their debt repayments.

"Yet clearly, the recession itself isn't the only factor here. The credit crunch and the problems in the housing market, while linked to the recession, should be regarded as issues in their own right, and have had distinct consequences on the options available to people struggling with debt problems.

"Thanks to the fall in house prices and the limited mortgage availability we've seen since mid-2007, many homeowners have been unable to find affordable new mortgages once the deal they were on came to an end. Not everyone has benefited from the low base rate, and many people have simply found it impossible to cope with higher mortgage payments at a time when their income has dropped.

"To a lesser extent, the uncertainty in house prices has also restricted many homeowners' ability to keep their debts under control by drawing on the equity in their homes - remortgaging or taking out secured loans to reduce the interest rate they're paying on their debts and slow down the rate at which they're repaying them, making their monthly payments more affordable.

"Finally, the problems in the housing market have prevented many people from selling their homes to clear their debts. Selling the family home is a drastic move, but is frequently seen as preferable to being declared insolvent - something which can, in certain cases, end up costing them their home anyway.

"As for the credit crunch, many people have found that the limited availability of credit has prevented them from accessing the debt consolidation loans that could have prevented relatively minor debt problems turning into the kind of financial crisis that can lead to insolvency."

Looking at the specific kinds of insolvency, the Q3 statistics show numbers of IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) and bankruptcies remained relatively flat in the third quarter, while the number of people entering DROs leapt from 1,978 in Q2 to 4,505 in Q3.

The Insolvency Service states that: 'Some of those who had a DRO approved would have been declared bankrupt had the DRO route not been an option, but it is not possible to quantify this proportion'.

It points out that the DRO figures also include 'individuals who, perhaps, could not have afforded the fee to enter into bankruptcy and who may have otherwise been in an informal debt management process, or been unable to access any form of debt resolution'.

Looking ahead, the Think Money spokesperson stressed that the end of the recession - when it arrives - won't necessarily herald an immediate turnaround in insolvency trends: "The majority of people who enter insolvency do so as the result of long-running financial problems. In other words, there's no clear reason to expect good news in the economy to translate into immediate good news in the insolvency statistics."

Notes to Editors

One of the UK's leading financial solutions providers, Think Money is based in Salford Quays, Manchester, and employs around 700 employees to deliver a comprehensive range of debt, loan, insurance and banking solutions.

Think Money defines its mission as 'To educate, rehabilitate and advise on all aspects of financial management'.

For more information, contact Melanie.Taylor@thinkmoney.com (0845 056 6480) or visit the Think Money website at http://www.thinkmoney.com/

IVA section: http://www.thinkmoney.com/debt/IVA/

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