Leading personal insolvency expert and Quantuma partner, Mark Sands comments on personal insolvency statistics

Credit is still too easily obtained by those that can least afford it, according to Mark Sands, a partner and national head of personal insolvency at corporate recovery and business advisory firm Quantuma.

He was commenting on the latest quarterly figures issued this morning (Friday 27 October) by the Insolvency Service.

They show a rise from Q2 to Q3 of 10% .

Three types of personal insolvency make up the official figures – bankruptcies, debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs).

Mark Sands said: “Nothing fundamental has changed in the economy in recent months, and whereas we might expect a slight increase in interest rates shortly, this alone will not have a major impact on personal insolvencies.

“But there are warning signs, with official data showing that consumer debt is on the increase, and this will only be exacerbated by Christmas spending in the coming weeks.”

But he said the latest increase was due in part to official policy from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

“The elephant in the room is a change in attitude by the FCA to firms pushing unregulated debt management plans.

“The FCA frowns on the more extreme examples of these and this has driven this sector of the personal insolvency marketplace into flipping debt management plans into formal IVAs,” he said.

This, he pointed out, had the immediate effect of causing a spike in the IVA figures and hence the official quarterly statistics.

“This is currently fogging the data, and we can expect another apparent drop in IVAs as this filters through the pipeline and the number of IVAs returns to normal levels.

“However, consumer confidence is very media driven and this could have the effect of depressing the High Street and the retail market in general,” he said.

Where he expected to see a further hardening was in the attitude to the so-called “rent to own” market.

Earlier this week retailer BrightHouse was ordered by the FCA to pay £14.8 million to 249,000 customers. BrightHouse will have to compensate customers who cancelled agreements after only one down payment but had not been refunded.

It will also make payments to those who signed up to lending agreements that may not have been affordable. A 2016 BBC investigation found one example of a £358 washing machine that ultimately cost the customer more than £1,000.

“This area of the personal credit market, and also the surge in popularity in Personal Contract Purchase plans to acquire cars, are what worries me about the future trends in personal insolvencies, and we can expect the FCA and the Government to be taking a closer look at these areas,” he said.

Ends

For further information, please contact:

Mark Sands, Partner, on 07972 004303

or

Marie Wadeson, Head of Marketing,

Quantuma LLP, Vernon House, 23 Sicilian Avenue, London, WC1A 2QS

Issued by Andy Skinner, ASAP PR – 01789 490786, mobile 07990 978257

Tel: 07464 545678

www.quantuma.com

Notes to Editors

Quantuma LLP is a leading restructuring and insolvency practice delivering partner-led solutions to businesses and individuals facing financial distress with offices in London, Southampton, Marlow, Watford, Brighton, Bristol and Manchester.