Over £80 million has been repaid to creditors in the past year, according to the Annual Report and Accounts published by Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) today.
The Scottish Government Agency also recovered all of its costs through fees and income during the year, ensuring its work had no impact on the public purse during 2015-16.
Despite significant changes in legislation and the introduction of new routes into bankruptcy, as well as a new web-based application system, which resulted in a drop in numbers of insolvencies in the early part of the 2015-16 year, AiB was still responsible for returning significant sums to creditors.
£37.8 million was repaid through the Debt Arrangement Scheme, of which at least 90% is returned to creditors, the highest total in a single year since the scheme’s introduction in 2004. A record 1,297 debt payment programmes under the Debt Arrangement Scheme were completed, 44.9 per cent up on the previous year.
Creditors also received £30.6 million from debtors in protected trust deeds during the year, with an average dividend of 23.4p in the pound. The administration of protected trust deeds is conducted by insolvency practitioners and AiB is responsible for supervision of this process.
£15.2 million was returned to creditors in bankruptcy cases where AiB was the trustee. Forty per cent fewer bankruptcies were awarded in 2015-16 than in the previous year following the introduction of the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into force on 1 April 2015.
The legislation introduced a suite of measures, including the Minimal Asset Process, which offers debt relief quickly and at less than half the cost of an application for bankruptcy under the previous equivalent scheme for those on low incomes.
Other measures included mandatory money advice for people seeking a statutory debt relief, compulsory financial education for those who have been sequestrated more than once and introduction of a Common Financial Tool for money advisers, allowing them to quickly assess whether individuals can contribute towards repayment of their debts.
In a year of significant change for AiB, 2015-16 also signalled the first 12 month period with Chief Executive Richard Dennis at the helm of the Agency.
Dr Dennis said: “This report highlights it has been a challenging but rewarding year at AiB.
“Much of our focus has been on embedding the new legislation and ensuring it delivers equitably for both debtors who seek access to debt relief and debt management and creditors who are entitled to a fair return.
“While it is tempting to conclude the falling numbers of people entering bankruptcy or signing a trust deed indicates individuals are taking greater control of their finances, we are conscious there has been a degree of readjustment as the insolvency sector as a whole becomes accustomed to the new rules and processes – and this is reflected in the figures.
“However, we won’t be complacent and have continued to press ahead with work to modernise and improve the laws governing insolvency in Scotland. Over the past year, we have concentrated on consolidating bankruptcy legislation in one place and the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 2016 is set to come into force in November this year.
“We have also had a record year for making bankruptcy restriction orders, with 81 per cent more granted in the past year compared to the previous one. This indicates we are prepared to take action against those individuals who behave inappropriately before or during their bankruptcies.”
Notes To Editors
The full Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16 can be found here.
Other key facts and figures from the Annual Report and Accounts 2015/16 include :
- The number of protected trust deeds registered increased by 6.1 per cent
- The number of approved debt payment programmes under the Debt Arrangement Scheme dropped by 50.9 per cent
- For bankruptcies concluded where AiB was trustee, the average dividend to creditors was 29.3p in the pound
- 8,390 bankruptcies were discharged
- The total number of bankruptcies awarded declined for the seventh year in succession
Accountant in Bankrupty (AiB) is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government with responsibility for administering the process of personal bankruptcy, administering the Debt Arrangement Scheme and recording corporate insolvencies in Scotland. For more information check out www.aib.gov.uk