Bankruptcy levels soar in county

Mark Sands: "Consumers are faced with a barrage of bad news with no sign of a respite"
Mark Sands: "Consumers are faced with a barrage of bad news with no sign of a respite"

A rising number of Kent people are declaring themselves bankrupt, new figures have shown.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show 429 people in the county petitioned for their own bankruptcy in county courts in the first quarter of 2008, a rise of 16 per cent on the previous quarter.

This compared to a national rise of 11 per cent in the same period.

Canterbury witnessed the largest increase in the number of people declaring themselves bankrupt, up by 25 per cent to 184 in the first quarter of this year.

There was also an increase of 22 per cent in Medway, up to 154. There was a smaller increase in Maidstone, up six per cent to 38 cases.

Mark Sands, south east head of personal insolvency for accountants KPMG, said: "Even with base rates starting to fall, consumers are seeing the cost of their mortgages increase, fuel costs continue to go up and now food prices are rising in a manner not seen for years.

"More than a million homeowners face the end of cheap fixed rate deals this year, mortgage deals are increasingly difficult to secure and unsecured lending has tighter restrictions than for many years as a result of the credit crunch.

"Consumers are faced with a barrage of bad news with no sign of a respite. While many individuals will decide to take formal steps to deal with their over-indebtedness in the months ahead, driving personal insolvencies higher, many others may be able to take advantage of informal arrangements and tighter budgeting to avoid the worst effects of over-indebtedness.

"The message to everyone in difficulty is to take advice on all the options and then to act on that advice."

Separate figures from the Insolvency Service show that the average bankrupt has debts of £50,828.

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