The research, conducted by Grant Thornton in association with ITV News released today (Wednesday), shows that Northern Ireland and London have seen the biggest increases in bankruptcies, of 67% and 52% respectively.
‘The biggest increase in bankruptcy numbers has undoubtedly been seen over the past 12 months, fuelled by soaring debt levels in particular hotspots, namely: Northern Ireland, London and the southeast’, said Mark Allen, a personal insolvency specialist at Grant Thornton.
These latest figures, which show an excess of 45,000 individual bankruptcies for 2004 as a whole, also reveal a clear correlation with the average credit card debt per UK household, which now stands at almost £2,300 and is at its highest in London where average household debts total £2,861.
The current levels of bankruptcy are about 70% higher than in 1995.
‘Having broken the trillion pound mark, UK consumer debt is at an historical high, and now amounts to more than the whole external debt of Africa and South America combined. Contributing to this still-growing debt mountain is the fact that UK consumers now have a heady total of 66.8 million credit cards at their fingertips – a worrying five times the European average,’ said Allen.
‘Bankruptcy numbers have gone through the roof and have reached an average of 126 people declaring bankruptcy every day compared with 97 in 2003.’
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