One million living in fear of going bust

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The Independent Online

More than one million people believe they are on the verge of financial crisis, according to a survey published yesterday by debt consultancy Thomas Charles, before government figures released this morning that were expected to show another sharp rise in bankruptcies.

One in five consumers who owe more than £10,000 on their credit cards are considering declaring themselves insolvent, the study claimed; this compared with 13 per cent four months ago.

This was the equivalent of 1.1 million adults across Great Britain, it said. It also found the percentage of people who said they had problems making their monthly debt repayments increased between March and July from 21 to 23 per cent. The figures presaged another sharp rise in personal insolvencies in the latest quarter, reported in government figures to be published this morning, the study said.

The data from the Department of Trade and Industry showed insolvencies running at 56 per cent of annual growth, including an 111 per cent rise in the number of individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), the new device intended to remove the stigma from bankruptcy. James Falla, director of Thomas Charles, said: "The problem is here to stay and is set to continue to grow."

Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), said he had seen a 40 per cent annual increase in the number of people asking for debt help. "We find that insolvency is the right course in about 3 per cent of cases. It is often better to take less drastic action, such as agree token payments with creditors."

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