Town sees big rise in bankruptcies

THE number of people declaring themselves bankrupt in Bury St Edmunds has risen by more than 60% - prompting fears that the credit crunch is hitting parts of the county far more severely than others.

James Mortlock

THE number of people declaring themselves bankrupt in Bury St Edmunds has risen by more than 60% - prompting fears that the credit crunch is hitting parts of the county far more severely than others.

Across Suffolk there was a 2% increase with figures rising from 184 people declaring themselves bankrupt in the first quarter of the year to 188 people in the second quarter.

But the statistics for Bury revealed a dramatic 62% increase in the numbers of cases - up from 56 to 91 - sparking concern from community leaders that the town is taking a severe knock thanks to the current economic turmoil.


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David Ruffley, MP for Bury, said he was appalled by the figures and placed the blame squarely with the Government. “This Government has a lot to answer for - it didn't keep a grip on the banks and credit card companies, which let unsustainable credit rip at a totally unsustainable rate and families here (in Bury) are getting crucified as a result,” he said.

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said he was worried by the figures: “There is no question that times are tough for people facing rising food and fuel bills and the latest figures are obviously concerning.”

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However, he did not believe Bury as a whole was suffering any more than the rest of Suffolk and said the council was investing in the area at just the time the local economy could do with the boost. “The cattle market (shopping, leisure and housing) development in Bury will give the area a lift when the local economy is facing pressures,” he said.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Justice show the number of people facing bankruptcy across the country rose by 7% in the second quarter of this year. More than 19,158 people were served with bankruptcy petitions in England and Wales between April and June compared with 17,847 during the first three months of the year. The figure is up nearly 5% from a year ago.

The rise in people across the country owing money who opted for bankruptcy was up nearly 4% to 13,533.

In Ipswich, the figures for those declaring themselves bankrupt over the past three months actually fell - by 24%, while in Norfolk the statistics showed a 4% increase in people petitioning for their own bankruptcy in court as opposed to being forced into bankruptcy by a creditor - from 287 cases in the first quarter of 2008 to 298 cases in the second quarter.

Mark Sands, the regional head of personal insolvency at KPMG, said nationally a total of 23,164 people took the potentially life changing step of placing themselves into personal insolvency: “This proportion of people choosing to jump before they were pushed represents an incredible 90% of all personal insolvencies. There are no signs of base rates falling any time soon and consumers are seeing the cost of their mortgages eating up more of their income.

“Energy costs are about to leap and the cost of the weekly shopping basket grows by the day. More than one million homeowners face the end of cheap fixed rate deals this year, mortgage deals continue to be difficult to secure and unsecured lending has tighter restrictions than for many years as a result of the credit crunch.”

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