November 09, 2009 06:00 ET

Personal Insolvencies Hit Record Levels as More UK Citizens Seek Debt Management Advice

CHORLEY, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 9, 2009) - The latest figures released on National Insolvency report a record number of insolvencies. Director of Consumer Debt Advice Service, ClearStart Nigel Stockton has responded to the latest National Insolvency Statistics and has provided an insight into the potential debt management trends in future for UK citizens.

"Today's National Insolvency Statistics have showed an increase of 28.2% in personal insolvencies compared to the same quarter last year, with figures hitting record levels as consumers continue to struggle to service their debts.

"The latest figures have shown year on year growth in all types of insolvency solutions, but most worrying with bankruptcies/debt relief orders being the fastest areas of growth.

"Whilst bankruptcy may sound like an easy option for consumers, in that quite often debts are considered satisfied within twelve months, it can limit employment prospects, ruling out roles in parts of the financial services sector; the forces and directorships. Additionally, there is a stigma of bankruptcy which can continue for 6 years and financial exclusion is a certainty with access to credit denied.

"The introduction of Debt Relief Orders in April this year has fuelled the increase in the number of lower level bankruptcies, as it now allows consumers who have under Pounds Sterling 15,000 of unsecured debt to file for bankruptcy using a low cost but fast track process.

"Perhaps of more concern in the longer term, however, is the fact that as bankruptcy grows in popularity it will provoke more lenders to become increasingly risk averse to lending to higher risk consumers and interest rates charges will continue to be disconnected from bank base rates as lenders build in the cost of non repayment loans into their pricing.

"For over 40% of our callers, the main driver for people falling into debt is when they face a period of temporary unemployment, which very quickly builds up debt to unmanageable levels. This is further compounded by them returning to work in a much lower paid job, which can have a dramatic effect on household budgets.

"We fully expect this trend to continue, especially if interest rates start to rise. According to Mintel, 32% of consumers are just managing despite interest rates being at historic lows, so a small rise in interest rates could push many people into severe financial difficulties.

"At ClearStart, we believe that consumers struggling with debt should seek advice early to ensure they can access the least severe solution. While these solutions will mean that they need to make all or partial repayment of their debt, they will also help them to keep their options open.

"We believe that advice should go beyond finding a debt solution and we also ensure that consumers are claiming all benefits they are entitled to, which can often make a real difference to household budgets and that they are paying no more than needed on the essentials such as energy and insurances."

ClearStart aims to help solve debt problems rather than allowing them to perpetuate. Recommendations are based on the individual situation and all advice is free. The website, offers practical advice for people and provides an online application form or there is a ClearStart freephone telephone helpline available on 0800 988 9345.

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