Scotland business

Accountant in Bankruptcy: Sharp fall in insolvencies

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Image caption The overall number of personal insolvencies is at its lowest quarterly level since 2008

The number of people and businesses going bust in Scotland has fallen sharply, according to official figures.

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) said there were 3,472 personal insolvencies in the last quarter.

The figure was down 9.9% on the previous three-month period and 28.8% lower than a year ago.

The number of Scottish companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership also fell by 22.7% in the latest quarter.

The total was 62.9% lower than a year ago.

The overall number of personal insolvencies is now at its lowest quarterly level since the Low Income Low Asset (LILA) route into bankruptcy was introduced in April 2008.

AiB attributed most of the fall to a drop in the number of protected trust deeds (PTDs) recorded.

These fell by 18.6% on the previous quarter and by 26.5% on the corresponding period of last year.

Awards of bankruptcy decreased very slightly from the previous quarter, but were 30.7% lower than a year ago.

Debt Arrangement Scheme

Figures for the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) showed 977 debt payment programmes were approved in the fourth quarter of 2012-13 - 8.4% lower than the previous quarter.

However, in 2012-13 there was a 39.6% year-on-year rise in the total number of approved programmes under the Scottish government-backed debt management scheme.

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said he was pleased to see personal bankruptcies dropping for the third successive quarter.

He added: "The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) continues to see an increase in approved debt payment programmes, following AiB's efforts to raise awareness of schemes and their benefits.

"A bill will also be introduced this summer which will contain provisions to reform the law of bankruptcy and will support AiB in delivering an even better service for debt advice, debt management and debt relief."

Commenting on the figures for business insolvencies, John Reid, from business advisory firm Deloitte, said: "These figures provide some encouraging signs, but they should sound a note of caution and we are most certainly not out of the woods yet.

"Despite some tentative signs of a gradual recovery, or at least some respite from further deterioration, there remains a large number of companies which are currently able to tread water thanks to continued low interest rates."

Business distress

Meanwhile, separate figures released by business rescue and recovery specialist Begbies Traynor have suggested a big fall in levels of critical business distress in Scotland.

The firm's quarterly Red Flag Alert statistics indicated that since the first quarter of 2012, combined levels of distress have fallen by just over 50% in Scotland against a UK average fall of 34%.

However, there was a 34% increase in cases of critical distress on the previous quarter, which Begbies Traynor said was largely due to seasonal trends that see the annual peak of distress after Christmas.

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