Belfast Telegraph

Bankruptcies up nearly 20% as 'debt culture' takes toll

By Margaret Canning

Bankruptcies in Northern Ireland have gone up by nearly one-fifth in the last year, according to new figures.

Statistics from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI) show 752 personal insolvencies between April and June, up nearly 9% on the first three months of the year when there were 692 and up 18.2% on the same period in 2010.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said rising bankruptcies were not unexpected and, despite varied contributory factors, could all be linked to people getting into debt which they couldn't repay.

"Northern Ireland consumers have been taking on higher levels of debt since the first half of this decade," he said.

"A culture of debt became more prevalent - whereas traditionally, Northern Ireland was more conservative and risk-averse."

In England and Wales bankruptcies were up 1% between April and June compared to the previous three months - but they had fallen 12.2% year on year.

Corporate insolvencies have fallen in recent months, with 90 company insolvencies between April and June, down 1.6% on one year earlier.

Insolvency solicitor Maria Glover of Napier and Sons Solicitors said the figures "do not tell the full story".

"Trade creditors and banks are now more inclined to rely on retention of title clauses, collateral and personal guarantees to recover monies owed rather then resorting to formal court driven procedures," she said.

"What could be viewed as restraint is actually pragmatism and trading conditions for companies in Northern Ireland remain volatile."

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