PROVISIONAL figures from a Scottish insolvency service have revealed that there was a fall in bankruptcy awards for the year 2017-18.

The total of 4540 awards is down from the 4562 given out in the previous year, according to Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB).

Despite those figures, total personal insolvencies, which include both bankruptcies and protected trust deeds (PTDs), rose slightly by 4.7 per cent. There were 5963 PTDs in 2017-18.

There are signs that people struggling with debt in Scotland are seeking to regain control of their finances, with a four per cent increase in the number of debt payment programmes approved under the Scottish Government’s pioneering Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS).

Throughout 2017-18, 2322 DAS debt payment programmes were approved helping those in debt to take control, without facing insolvency and protected from further action being taken against them.

The number of DAS programmes completed rose to 1681 from 1603 in 2016-17, a 4.9 per cent increase. A total of £37.6 million was repaid through the scheme last year.

Commenting on the latest figures, Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “These provisional figures from Accountant in Bankruptcy very much appear to be in line with the UK-wide picture, for personal and company insolvency numbers.

“The number of individuals entering insolvency continues to be lower than 10 years ago.

“However, we are under no illusion that, for some people, insolvency is the only means by which they can get a fresh start from the unmanageable burden of their debts, particularly those financially vulnerable families impacted the hardest by the UK Government’s cruel and unnecessary austerity agenda.

“Here in Scotland, we are working hard to be at the forefront of debt relief policy across the world and we will shortly be seeking to introduce further measures to widen the access to our successful Debt Arrangement Scheme.

“DAS has already helped repay over £200m of debts owed, while removing any fears of creditor challenge or racking up further interest and charges. Future changes to DAS we have planned will make it even more flexible and appealing to those suffering problem debt.”