A total of £36.8m was returned to creditors through Scotland’s debt arrangement scheme in 2014/2015, according to an annual report on the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB).
Statistics from the AiB – the Scottish government agency that administers the insolvency regime north of the border – also shows that 896 debt arrangement schemes (DAS) were concluded. These schemes increased 73 per cent compared to 2013/2014.
Some £27.6m was also paid to creditors upon conclusion of protected trust deed cases during the financial year.
In another success, the AiB achieved full cost recovery of its operating costs for the second year in a row.
The agency recovered costs through administration of its statutory debt solutions, effectively eliminating the draw on the public purse.
Scottish business minister Fergus Ewing, who has been responsible for AiB oversight for almost a decade, said: “The achievement of full cost recovery is a great success story.
“This is in contrast to the situation in 2007-2008 when administering personal insolvency in Scotland required funding from the public purse of over £6m. This means taxpayers funds can today be used in other Scottish government priority areas.”
Ewing added: “The success of the debt arrangement scheme (DAS) is acknowledged throughout the UK and this is a tribute to the good work of the team in AiB.”
The recovery of operating costs was secured despite a shrinking number of bankruptcies.
Total personal insolvencies in Scotland, which include bankruptcies and protected trust deeds, fell sharply during the year by 19 per cent to 11,167, down from 13,793 for 2013/2014.
2014/2015 saw AiB spearhead the implementation of the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act, which introduced a suite of new regulations including a new route into bankruptcy for those with minimal assets.
New protections for creditors were also introduced in the legislation. Trustees may now defer a debtor’s discharge indefinitely, until they are satisfied the debtor has cooperated fully.
Bankruptcy restrictions orders may also now be made by AiB for periods of between two and five years, if there’s evidence of misconduct before or during a debtor’s bankruptcy.
Since the year outlined in the 2014-2015 annual report, the agency also appointed a new chief executive, with Dr Richard Dennis taking over upon the retirement of Rosemary Winter-Scott in May.
Dr Dennis said: “Despite a decrease in applications across all formal debt relief and debt management products, it is positive to see the amount repaid to creditors continues to increase year-on-year.”
By Marcel LeGouais