Personal insolvencies fell to three-year low across 2020

The number of personal insolvencies recorded in England and Wales fell to a three-year low in 2020.

The Insolvency Service said there were 111,424 individual insolvencies in 2020 – a total which was down by 9% on 2019.

It marked the lowest annual figure since 98,897 personal insolvencies were recorded in 2017.

The service said the fall in cases was driven by low volumes of bankruptcies and debt relief orders (DROs), which both decreased by 25% from the previous year.

The number of individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) in 2020 was higher than the number registered in 2019, although the increase from the previous year was small, it said. IVAs are agreements whereby money is shared out between creditors.

The service said the fall in personal insolvencies last year is likely to be at least partly driven by Government measures put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including reduced HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcement activity following the first UK lockdown in March 2020.

Coronavirus financial support measures to help people and businesses will also have had an impact, it said.

The service added that as it does not record whether an insolvency is directly related to the pandemic, it is not possible to state its direct effect on insolvency volumes.

It also released company insolvency figures, which showed the total number of cases registered in 2020 fell to the lowest annual level since 1989.

There were 12,557 underlying company insolvencies in 2020, a reduction of 27% compared with 2019 numbers.

The industries experiencing the highest number of insolvencies in the 12 months ending in the fourth quarter of 2020 included construction, accommodation and food services.