Mixed picture for Scottish insolvencies

editorial image

The number of Scottish businesses becoming insolvent or entering receivership dropped by almost 25% compared to a year ago, according to figures from Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) for the first quarter of 2017-18.

Compared to the first quarter of 2016-17, there were 200 corporate insolvencies, down from 265 – a drop of 24.5%.

The figure for the quarter is made up of 118 compulsory liquidations and 82 creditor voluntary liquidations.

For the third quarter in succession, there were no receiverships recorded for the quarter.

There were also 151 members’ voluntary liquidations, which is down from the 220 recorded in the same quarter of 2016-17.

However, more Scots have accessed statutory personal debt solutions, with numbers increasing from the recent low levels in 2015-16.

In the three months between 1 April and 30 June 2017, total personal insolvencies, which include awards of bankruptcy and protected trust deeds, increased by 17.3% from 2,420 in the same quarter a year ago to 2,839.

Awards of bankruptcy increased from 1,159 in the first quarter of 2016-17 to 1,289 in the current quarter, a rise of 11.2%.

Protected trust deeds rose 22.9% over the same period from 1,261 a year ago to 1,550.

Personal insolvencies in Scotland have more than halved since 2008-09, and the numbers fell in early 2015-16, the first months after the introduction of new legislation on 1 April 2015.

Approved debt payment programmes under the Scottish Government-backed Debt Arrangement Scheme were also up, rising 16.8% from 511 in the first quarter of 2016-17 to 597.

A total of £9.4 million was repaid through DAS this quarter, which is up from £9.3 million repaid in the same quarter of 2016-17, and also up from the £9.2 million repaid during the previous quarter.

DAS allows debtors to pay their debts in full without facing insolvency.

Almost 500 debtors paid off their debts in full through DAS, with 482 DAS debt payment programmes completed, up from 423 in the previous quarter and the 364 completed in the same quarter a year ago.

Commenting on the latest figures, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said: “These welcome low corporate insolvency numbers come in the wake of recent statistics which reveal unemployment at a record low, the Scottish employment rate rising and GDP figures showing Scotland’s growth rate to be four times that of the UK.

“On the personal insolvency front, there is no question that continuing austerity has led to incomes being squeezed and more people suffering the anxiety and distress of insolvency as a result.

“But it is nevertheless important we acknowledge that the longer term trend of people accessing statutory debt relief and debt management solutions is a declining one‎ and numbers of people falling into insolvency are around half of the levels reported at the turn of the decade.

”The Scottish Government will work tirelessly to protect those individuals facing financial hardship by working towards reducing poverty and inequalities in Scotland.

“By investing in financial education and backing debt management products such as the pioneering Debt Arrangement Scheme, we aim to provide all in Scotland methods to be able to handle their finances more effectively.”