Personal insolvencies soar across Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 11:21 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:32 22 July 2018
Ballooning levels of personal debt has led to steep rises in the number of people applying for insolvency in Norfolk, in a sign of the mounting financial pressures facing households.
The rate of personal insolvencies in Norwich has increased by almost a third over the last two years, official data has revealed.
Stark increases have also been seen in South Norfolk, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Lowestoft and Waveney and Great Yarmouth. Only North Norfolk has experienced a slightly fall in numbers, down four per cent.
At the same time consumer debt reached more than £200 billion by the start of the year, returning to levels last seen in the financial crisis
Insolvency is when someone cannot pay their debts, and has to arrange a plan with an official body to pay off creditors. This can include being declared bankrupt.
Jon Cheyette, chief executive officer at Norfolk Citizens Advice, said: “This is our biggest area in terms of increasing numbers of people experiencing increasing amounts of debt, so these numbers don’t surprise me.”
The shocking Insolvency Service figures include people who have been declared bankrupt, those who have been given debt relief orders, which are a form of relief for people on low incomes, and those with individual voluntary arrangements, which are a voluntary way of paying back creditors.
In 2015, 18.7 adults per 10,000 were declared insolvent in Norwich, however in 2017 that figure had risen to 24.6, an increase of 31.4%. In total there were 280 new insolvency cases in 2017, up from 212 the year before.
In South Norfolk the numbers have risen 23.3%, with 171 new insolvency cases last year, while King’s Lynn and West Norfolk saw a 22.5% rise, seeing 265 new cases in 2017.
Waveney and Great Yarmouth both have amongst the highest rates of personal insolvencies in England and Wales, the official figures show.
In Great Yarmouth 32 adults per 10,000 in the local authority were declared insolvent in 2017, an 21% rise over the last two years; while in Waveney it was 30 adults per 10,000, an 18% rise.
Mr Cheyette said many of the people they saw with debt problems had been ignoring the problem.
“Very often people have been burying their heads in the sand, letters have been appearing and they have had a knock on the door from the bailiffs. It is a minority that come to us in a timely manner at a point when something can be done,” he said.
“Our message consistently is for people to come to us at an earlier stage. The sooner you can engage with the organisations they are in debt to the better.
“Filing for bankruptcy and personal insolvency if there is no other way is an incredibly difficult situation that people find themselves in.”
• Help with debut issues is available from Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau on 0344 4111444 and at www.ncab.org.uk