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Bankruptcy is on the rise; Mersey figures up by 23. 5% to 975.

Byline: BILL GLEESON Business Editor

THE number of people going bankrupt across Merseyside has continued to rise inexorably, according to the latest figures.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs says the number of people being made bankrupt in Merseyside in 2004 rose by 23. 5% to 975, a dramatic increase on the 790 people bankrupting themselves in 2003.

The figures follow the enactment of the Enterprise Act last year which makes going bankrupt easier for people who run up business or personal debts.

The local trends follow a picture being painted across the country where the number of people made bankrupt has also risen again.

This is the fourth consecutive quarter showing a dramatic year on year increase in overall bankruptcy figures. The national figures for the final quarter of last year represent a 29% increase on the same period previously and a 6% increase on the third quarter.

The Department of Trade and Industry figures show that 35, 898 people were made bankrupt in 2004 in the UK, the highest annual level since records began and a 28% increase on 2003.

Separate figures released by the DCA confirm another trend the increase in bankruptcies is being driven by people declaring themselves bankrupt, rather than being forced into bankruptcy by a creditor. In the past year, 75% of all bankruptcies were people bankrupting themselves the highest proportion ever, and more than double the rate of only four years ago.

Paul Bateman, head of personal insolvency at KPMG in the North, said: ``These statistics point to a new high level of bankruptcies becoming the norm, rather than a one-off spike fuelled by changes in the law as was predicted when the bankruptcy legislation changed in April 2004. I believe we can expect to see annual rates of 60, 000 bankruptcies in the UK within the next three years. If the UK follows the US trend, where bankruptcy rates `per head' are 10 times UK figures, we can expect greater still increases.

``The increase in bankruptcy levels suggests that the simplified approach to bankruptcies is making the procedure more attractive to debtors. ''
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 7, 2005
Words:349
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