UK individual insolvency statistics - Q4 2021

The October to December 2021 (Q4) individual insolvency stats for England and Wales have been published by The Insolvency Service, together with related figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UK Individual Insolvency Stats Q4 2021

Individual insolvency statistics for England and Wales – 2021

There were 110,022 individual insolvencies in 2021, a slight decrease when compared to 2020 and a 10 per cent decrease when compared to 2019. In 2021, there were a total of:

  • 81,119 individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) – a 4% increase from 2020
  • 20,135 debt relief orders (DROs) – a 2% decrease from 2020
  • 8,688 bankruptcies – a 31% decrease from 2020

The overall decrease in individual insolvencies was driven by the low volumes of bankruptcies, which were 31 per cent lower than 2020 and 48 per cent lower than 2019 (pre-pandemic). The long-term trend shows that numbers of bankruptcies have been declining, reaching a record low in 2021, the lowest annual number since 1989. This is likely to have been driven in part by measures that were put in place to support businesses and individuals, such as the The Breathing Space scheme.

Numbers of IVAs have been increasing over the past 5 years and they also reached a record high in 2021. DRO numbers were higher in the second half of 2021, following changes to DRO eligibility that came into effect on 29th June 2021, including an increase in the level of debt at which people can apply for a DRO from £20,000 to £30,000.

Individual insolvency statistics for England and Wales – Q4 2021

In Q4 2021, there were a total of 27,349 individual insolvencies, including:

  • 19,662 individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs)
  • 5,863 debt relief orders (DROs)
  • 1,824 bankruptcies

Total individual insolvencies in Q4 2021 increased by 2 per cent from Q3 2021 but decreased by 12 per cent when compared to Q4 2020.

IVAs registered in Q4 2021 was similar to the previous quarter, but 17 per cent lower than in Q4 2020. However, The Insolvency Service urge caution when interpreting IVA numbers as they are counted once they are registered with the Insolvency Service by licensed insolvency practitioners and there can be a time lag between the date on which the IVA is accepted and the date of registration.

Bankruptcies in Q4 2021 consisted of:

  • 1,553 debtors’ applications
  • 250 creditors’ petitions

The numbers of debtors’ applications and creditors’ petitions were both amongst the lowest seen since 1998 when data on petition type started to be captured.

The number of DROs in Q4 2021 was similar to Q3 2021 but 38 per cent higher than the same quarter last year.

Breathing Space Registrations

Between 4 May (when the scheme was launched) and 31 December 2021 there were 41,127 breathing space registrations. These comprised of:

  • 40,503 standard breathing space registrations
  • 624 mental health crisis breathing space registrations (for those receiving mental health crisis treatment)

Individual insolvency rate statistics for England and Wales – 2021

In 2021:

  • 1 in 429 individuals became insolvent
  • the individual insolvency rate was 23.3 per 10,000 adults in England and Wales

Unlike the absolute number of individual insolvencies over a period, the individual insolvency rate indicates the probability of a person entering insolvency in the previous four quarters. In general, periods of economic growth result in individual insolvency rates decreasing.

Individual insolvency statistics for Scotland – Q4 2021

The Accountant in Bankruptcy, Scotland’s Insolvency Service, administers individual insolvency in Scotland. They reported that in Q4 2021, there were 2,063 individual insolvencies individual insolvencies in Scotland.

Of the total individual insolvencies in Scotland in Q4 2021, there were:

  • 634 sequestrations (of which 420 went into bankruptcy via the minimal asset process route)
  • 1,429 protected trust deeds

Individual insolvency statistics for Northern Ireland – Q4 2021

In Northern Ireland in Q4 2021, there were 376 individual insolvencies. Of the total individual insolvencies, there were:

  • 323 IVAs
  • 20 bankruptcies
  • 33 DROs

Please note, individual insolvency in Northern Ireland is governed by separate, but broadly similar, legislation to England and Wales, and so figures are presented separately.

Where can I see insolvency notices in The Gazette?

The Gazette is the primary source of both corporate insolvency and personal insolvency information in the UK and publishes this information in the form of insolvency notices, allowing transparency for the public, the credit industry and concerned individuals to quantify risk and inform creditors. You can view all corporate and personal insolvency notices on The Gazette website.

The Gazette also provides a data service which gives access to official intelligence on all UK businesses, corporate and personal insolvencies. Benefits of The Gazette’s data service include:

  • Bespoke reports - tailored around your specific business
  • Geo-targeted editions - available for specific geographical targeting (National, London, Belfast, Edinburgh)
  • Custom filters - specific custom attributes (company number, notice type, key terms)
  • Data at regular intervals - delivered at a rate to match your business needs (daily, weekly, monthly)

For more information on The Gazette’s data service, contact the team on 01603 985949 or email

Enquire now

Next insolvency statistics release

Figures for Q1 2022 will be released on 28 April 2022.

You can see all personal insolvency notices in The Gazette.

See also

Company insolvency statistics – Q4 2021

UK individual insolvency statistics - Q3 2021

What you need to know about Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

Find out more

Individual Insolvency Statistics, October to December 2021 (GOV.UK)

The Insolvency Service (GOV.UK)

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 31 January 2022