Scottish Statutory Debt Solutions Statistics

Experimental Statistics

This publication series contains the latest monthly statistics on statutory debt solutions in Scotland. The statistics are compiled by Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), an executive agency of the Scottish Government, and are derived from AiB administrative records. Following end of year validation, estimates for April 2019 to March 2020 are final. Estimates for April 2020 to March 2021 are provisional until final figures are expected to be published in Summer 2021.

Non-statutory debt solutions, where debtors make their own arrangements with creditors or enter informal debt management plans with a debt management firm, are not included in these statistics.

These statistics presented in this have been classed as ‘experimental’ - see below for more information on Experimental Statistics. The work programme has focused on user needs, completeness of the data collected and quality assurance processes.
 

 Edition  Release date  Bulletin  Tables  Next release
 January 2021  10 February 2021  January 2021  January 2021  10 March 2021
 December 2020  13 January 2021  December 2020  December 2020  10 February 2021
 November 2020  09 Devember 2020  November 2020  November 2020  13 January 2020
 October 2020  11 November 2020  October 2020  October 2020  09 Decvember 2020
 September 2020  14 October 2020  September 2020  September 2020  11 November 2020
 August 2020  09 September 2020  August 2020  August 2020 data  14 October 2020
 July 2020  12 August 2020  July 2020  July 2020 data  09 September 2020
 June 2020  08 July 2020  June 2020  June 2020 Data  12 August 2020
 May 2020  10 June 2020  May 2020  May 2020 data  08 July 2020
 April 2020  13 May 2020  April 2020  April 2020 data  10 June 2020
 Financial year 2019-20  08 April 2020  2019-20  2019-20 data  13 May 2020

Why this publication series is being published?

As the demand increases for statistics and data to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Accountant in Bankruptcy has had to change its data gathering and release practices, focussing efforts on priority analysis and statistics. Our statement explains this further and, in line with guidance from the Office for Statistics Regulation, the decision has been made to suspend the following publications until further notice: 

  • Scottish Insolvency Statistics: January to March 2020 (2019-20 Quarter 4)
    Original publication date: 22 April 2020
     
  • Scottish Insolvency Statistics: April to June 2020 (2020-21 Quarter 1)
    Original publication date: 22 July 2020.

This action is necessary due to an urgent shift of resource within Scottish Government to help manage immediate issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) produces data and statistics to support decision-makers in Scotland and our trusted, impartial information is more important now than ever.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a significant challenge for the UK and we are working to ensure that AiB continues to produce vital data and statistics needed to respond to the impact of this pandemic on our economy and society.

This means we will need to ensure that information is provided faster, and we need to change how we produce and publish in order to ensure we provide the information necessary as the situation unfolds.

The changes to our work could affect the quality of some of our statistics, such as lower accuracy, or it could mean there is less detail available due to lack of resources.

Decisions will be made on a case by case basis, taking into account what information is currently relevant given the situation, with the three pillars of the Code of Practice for Statistics (Trustworthiness, Quality and Value) guiding our decisions. Giving everyone access to statistics at the same time remains a fundamental principle of the Code, but where this cannot be maintained we will be open and transparent about this and any other potential effects on our statistics.

Caveats

  1. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Scotland, it is expected that the number of awards of bankruptcy, protected trust deeds and approved Debt Payment Programmes under the Debt Arrangement Scheme may go down while comparing with previous figures. The subsequent monthly releases will confirm either way.

    Nevertheless, it is important to note that if these numbers do go down, then these do not imply any information about the state of people's personal finance. In other words, it is not correct to interpret these as the number of individuals with problem debts being low.

    A possible explanation is, during the outbreak, creditors may cease to chase debts, and there are lack of available approved money advisers and insolvency practitioners people required to meet in order to apply for any one of the statutory debt solutions.
     

  2. The data used in this release are not seasonally adjusted. We recommend to use year-on-year comparisons (for example April 2019 and April 2020 etc.) rather than making month-on-month comparisons.

What are 'Experimental Statistics'?

Experimental statistics are a type of official statistics that are undergoing development. This is the first time Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has produced monthly statistics on statutory debt solutions where the experimental statistics label has been used with the aim for compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Experimental statistics and the Code of Practice: Defined in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics - https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/code-of-practice/ - as ‘statistics undergoing evaluation and published to involve users and stakeholders in their development’. The Code promotes and supports the release of experimental statistics to involve users in their development at an early stage and achieve continuous improvement in statistical processes.

It is possible, however, that the statistics will not be fully compliant in all areas due to their nature as ‘data being developed’.
 

Background Information

Data Sources

The statistics for individual insolvencies (bankruptcies and protected trust deeds (PTDs) and debt payment programmes (DPPs) under the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) are derived from administrative data of records processed within AiB and stored on the systems BASYS, ASTRA and DASH & eDEN respectively. The exception to this is creditor and trustee petition bankruptcies which are sourced from the courts that grant them and subsequently stored on the BASYS system.

Note DASH was decommissioned on 30 June 2019 and its replacement system, eDEN, went live on 1 July 2019.

Methodology

Figures are produced from tabulation of raw data from relevant administrative systems for the number of bankruptcies, PTDs, and DPPs under DAS. The numbers of personal insolvencies reported are based on the date of the court order, agreement of the insolvency procedure or approval date. For creditor petitions, the published figures will be influenced by, for example, the late reporting of court orders which may lead to underestimating the number of creditor petitions awarded. Creditor petitions statistics are subsequently adjusted in the subsequent monthly releases until July 2020 (TBC).

DPP under DAS statistics are based on the date the DPP was approved. 

Revisions

Revisions are usually made as a result of data being sent to AiB and logged on to the administrative systems after the cut-off date for data being extracted from the systems to produce the statistics. These revisions tend to be small in the context of overall totals.

From April 2020, scheduled revisions will occur every month (whenever possible), which will provide users with data in a more timely manner and improve the accuracy of provisional estimates as more information becomes available. On this release, all monthly data are given provisional status and labelled with ‘p’. These statistics will remain provisional until the data is finalised (i.e. no planned revisions) -- the date is to be confirmed.

Quality

Revelance

The statistics produced by AiB are the most complete record of the number of personal insolvencies in Scotland. They include all statutory insolvency procedures available. Statistics on DAS, the only statutory debt management solution available in Scotland, are also included.

The statistics presented here do not include non-statutory debt solutions. This is where debtors make their own arrangements with creditors or enter informal debt management plans with a debt management firm. The demand for statutory debt solutions should be seen within the context of the overall debt solution market (both statutory and non-statutory solutions).

This demand will be affected by changes in the legislative and regulative environment. For example, changes to regulatory procedures operated by the Financial Conduct Authority could affect the supply of non-statutory solutions and in turn the demand for statutory debt solutions.

Key users of AiB’s insolvency statistics are: AiB itself, which has policy responsibility for personal insolvencies in Scotland and devolved areas of corporate insolvency; the insolvency profession; debt advice agencies; media organisations; academics; creditors and the general public.

Accuracy and completeness

All formal insolvency procedures entered into by a company, a partnership or an individual are required by law to be reported to the appropriate body, so the statistics should be a complete record of statutory insolvency in Scotland.

The numbers of bankruptcies, PTDs and DAS DPPs are based on the date of the order, agreement of the insolvency procedure or the approval date, not on the date it was registered on the administrative recording system. This does not have any implication for cases processed within AiB. However, the published number of creditor petitions will be influenced by, for example, the late reporting of creditor petitions court orders, which may lead to missing data.

Checks are in place to identify and remove duplication of cases when extracting data from the administrative systems, to make sure that returns cover all debt management solutions, and to check consistency within tables and between related tables.

Timeliness and punctuality

The Scottish Statutory Debt Solutions Statistics are published on the second Wednesday of the month following the end of the month being reported on. This publication date allows receipt of all the data inputs and sufficient time for quality assurance of the data extracts, tabulating records and completing the compliation of the statistical release.

Accessibility and clarity

The Scottish Statutory Debt Solutions Statistics are available free of charge to the end user on the AiB website. They are released via the website. Contact details can be found in the "Experimental Statistics" sheet within this Excel file for any specific data requests.

Comparability

Changes in legislation and policy can affect the extent to which comparisons can be made over time for individual data series. Where such changes are known, they have been highlighted in the commentary and in the general background notes.

Insolvency legislation

The Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has a statutory duty to supervise all personal insolvencies in Scotland and administer those bankruptcies where The Accountant is appointed as trustee.

Legislation provides for all three statutory debt solutions in Scotland as well as the duties and functions of the AiB. The statute relating to bankruptcy, also known as sequestration, and Protected Trust Deeds is contained within the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) and associated regulations. The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) is provided for by the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 and associated regulations, notably the Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2011.

The Insolvency Act 1986 is the primary legislation covering Corporate Insolvency in the UK. However, there is secondary legislation which applies only in Scotland, being the Insolvency (Scotland) (Receivership and Winding Up) Rules 2018 and the Insolvency (Scotland) (Company Voluntary Arrangement and Administration) Rules 2018. These rules replaced the Insolvency (Scotland) Rules 1986. AiB is responsible for receiving, extracting and recording information from certain documents relating to company liquidations and receiverships as is required by the legislation referred to above.

Bankruptcy legislation has evolved over many years. The Bankruptcy and Diligence Act 2007 introduced reforms from 2008 including the option of self-nominated bankruptcy by application to AiB, along with a new access route through Low Income Low Asset (LILA) bankruptcy. This provided for a streamlined process for insolvent individuals with low income and very few assets. The Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014 (“BADA(S)”) saw LILA replaced by Minimal Asset Process bankruptcy with effect from 1 April 2015, introducing more flexible entry criteria and a lower application fee.

BADA(S) also introduced a mandatory requirement for money advice prior to a self-nominated bankruptcy, thereby placing advice as an essential part of all statutory debt solutions in Scotland.

The 2016 Act simplified and consolidated all previous statutes into one accessible piece of legislation as well encompassing the main statutory provisions for Protected Trust Deeds in primary legislation. Much of this had previously been contained in secondary legislation through the Protected Trust Deeds (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

DAS is administered by AiB. A Debt Payment Programme (DPP) approved under DAS allows individuals to repay their debts in full over an extended period of time whilst providing protection from enforcement by their creditors and safeguarding their home as long as mortgage payments are maintained.

A DAS DPP can last for any period of time agreed by creditors or deemed fair and reasonable and, if approved, will freeze all interest, fees and charges on the debt included, resulting in them being waived on successful completion of the programme.
The Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2018, the most recent DAS regulations that came into force in November 2019, introduced some important reforms. In particular, they removed any fees payable by a debtor for advice provision, irrespective of the advice organisation engaged and introduced revised fee structures and arrangements for payments distribution to creditors.

 

Can figures in this publication series be compared with statistics in Scottish Insolvency Statistics reports?

Figures for April 2019 to March 2020 and April 2020 to March 2021 presented in this release remain provisional. Therefore, caution is needed when interpreting these figures.

With this caveat in mind, both sets of quarterly and annual figures can be compared. Detailed time-series data for the latest Official Statistics publication can be found in the following link:

https://www.aib.gov.uk/scottish-insolvency-statistics-october-december-2019-2019-20-quarter-3

 

An Experimental Statistics publication for Scotland

The figures released today are classed as Experimental Statistics though these were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics; they undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs.

Correspondence and enquiries
For enquiries about this publication please contact:

Ken O’Neill, Statistician, Accountant in Bankruptcy
Email: Ken.O'Neill@aib.gov.uk

For general enquiries about Scottish Government statistics please contact:
Office of the Chief Statistician
Telephone: 0131 244 0442
Email: statistics.enquiries@gov.scot
 
Complaints and suggestions
If you are not satisfied with our service or have any comments or suggestions, please write to:
The Chief Statistician, 2W, St Andrews House, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG
Telephone: (0131) 244 0302
Email: statistics.enquiries@gov.scot

If you would like to be consulted about statistical collections or receive notification of publications, please register your interest at: www.gov.scot/scotstat

Details of forthcoming publications can be found at: www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/ForthcomingPubs
 
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