Insolvency data ‘not the full picture’

Personal insolvencies may have fallen in the UK, but that does not give a full picture of the debt management problems consumers face.

This is the …

Personal insolvencies may have fallen in the UK, but that does not give a full picture of the debt management problems consumers face.

This is the view of the chief executive of the Money Advice Trust Joanna Elson, who said many people cannot afford the fees to declare themselves bankrupt, which consist of a £525 deposit and £175 fee.

She stated: "It is important to understand that the extent of debt problems amongst UK households is not reflected in these insolvency figures – they are merely the tip of the iceberg."

There are ten million people in a "constant struggle" to manage their debts, she added, noting that in addition to this 2.5 million more people are in arrears on at least one household bill or payment.

Such a situation could leave many considering what their alternatives to bankruptcy may be.

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is something many people might benefit from learning more about.

It works through a negotiated deal involving reduced payments to creditors, paid in even amounts over a period of no more than five years, after which anything left owing is written off.

Provided three-quarters of creditors accept the deal, it will be binding on all of them, so no single lender can have a veto on the deal.

Consumers need to be in debt by around £15,000 or more before they can be considered for an IVA.

The Money Advice Trust has not been alone in observing that the debt problems suffered by consumers are not fully expressed in the insolvency figures.

Lee Manning, president of insolvency professionals body R3, said: "We should be aware of the group just outside the official figures."

He said a tenth of British adults "can only afford the interest charges on their credit cards, according to figures from insolvency trade body, R3".

While many people can cope in the near term with this they will each need a "strategy" for ultimately solving the issue, Mr Manning added.

By James Francis
 

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