Personal bankruptcies leap by 250%

AN MP has demanded action after revealing a 250% rise in the number of personal bankruptcies in west Suffolk.The figures were last night described as worrying by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who said greater help was needed for people who find themselves spiraling into debt.

AN MP has demanded action after revealing a 250% rise in the number of personal bankruptcies in west Suffolk.

The figures were last night described as worrying by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who said greater help was needed for people who find themselves spiraling into debt.

It has also led to calls from the Citizens' Advice Bureau for far greater care to be shown when lending money.

Mr Spring said: “People can be declared bankrupt for a variety of reasons and it is not possible to isolate the specific reasons why we have seen such a large rise in Suffolk.


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“However, we need to highlight that this is a worrying trend, borne out nationally, and try to find out why more and more people find themselves burdened with such overwhelming debts that they cannot pay them off and need to resort to bankruptcy.

“Becoming bankrupt is a traumatic experience and these figures, on top of housing repossessions, reflect considerable and rising financial pressures underneath the surface.”

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Figures obtained from the Government revealed the increase - with the number of bankruptcy orders made at Bury St Edmunds County Court rising from 87 in 1998 to 217 last year. Similarly, the total for Suffolk doubled from 278 in 1998 to 554 in 2005.

Elise Cross, a spokesman for the Citizens' Advice Bureau, said some people could actually benefit from bankruptcy but cited the rise on lenders handing out cash without carrying out proper checks.

She said: “One problem is that some people could actually benefit from bankruptcy but they are unable too because they cannot afford the fees involved.

“There have been proposed changes made by the Insolvency Service but these have not yet been turned into legislation. There needs to be greatly improved access to bankruptcy for those who need it.

“Our evidence shows lenders are selling products without properly checking whether borrowers can afford it - even when there is clear evidence this might not be the case.”

Mr Spring said more needed to be done to highlight different ways of helping people who face mounting debts.

“There are lots of different methods for people to get financial advice now, from high street banks and financial advisers to the internet, which can provide guidance on money management,” he added.

“We need to highlight these avenues so that if people do get into financial difficulties, they know where to turn to try to get help before it gets out of hand.”

Last month, the EADT reported that the number of home repossessions in the west of the county had more than doubled year on year.

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