Personal insolvency figures expected to rise

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The number of people who have become personally insolvent is expected to have increased in official figures released on Friday.

Experts predict there will be around 23,000 to 24,000 cases recorded across England and Wales during the first quarter of 2017 in figures released by the Insolvency Service.

Previous figures show there were 22,852 personal insolvencies in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Three types of personal insolvency make up the official figures - bankruptcies, debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs). 

Ruth Duncan, president of the Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA) and an insolvency specialist at RNF Business Advisory Ltd, said: "It is predicted that the total number of personal insolvencies is likely to be between 23,000 and 24,000.

"However, with the economy continuing to be reasonably buoyant as interest rates remain historically low, it is likely that the next statistics due in July will show a levelling out of personal insolvencies."

Mark Sands, a personal insolvency partner at RSM, expects the figures to show that around 23,800 people entered a personal insolvency process in the first quarter of 2017.

Data from RSM's "tracker" system suggests there were around 4,250 bankruptcies in the first quarter, 13,500 IVAs and 6,125 DROs.

Mr Sands said: "Historically, these levels of personal insolvency are still relatively low, largely as a result of continued high employment and record low interest rates.

'However, there is a definite change in the air, with consumer price inflation beginning to eat into household budgets and real wages failing to keep pace."

Recent Bank of England figures showing strong annual growth in consumer credit have led to warnings that some households may be at risk of over-stretching their borrowing.

Figures released by the Insolvency Service in January showed the number of people being tipped into insolvency jumped by 13% last year, prompting some experts to warn the tide may have turned for household finances.

Some 90,930 personal insolvencies were recorded across England and Wales last year, rising 13.1% from 2015. It was the first time since 2010 that the number had increased year-on-year.