2017 insolvency statistics: gender and geographical factors

The Insolvency Service has released official statistics for individual insolvencies in England and Wales from 2000 to 2017.

Broken down by region and local authority areas, age and gender, the key findings are:

  • The total insolvency rate increased for the second successive paper people on blue backgroundyear, and increased in all regions of England and Wales between 2016 and 2017.
  • The north-east continued to have the highest insolvency rates, while London had the lowest.
  • Eight out of 10 local authorities with the lowest insolvency rates were in London, while six out of the 10 areas with the highest rates were located in coastal areas.
  • The insolvency rate for females was higher than the male rate for the fourth successive year, and the gap has continued to widen.
  • Insolvency rates were highest in the 35-44 age group for males and 25-34 for females.
  • Insolvency rates increased for all age groups except 55 and over, with those aged between 18-44 showing the biggest rises.

Marks Sands, chair of the insolvency trade body R3's personal insolvency committee, commented on gender factors:

“Many factors feed into this gender disparity. For example, women are much more likely than men to work part-time, and in sectors and roles with lower pay; women are often paid less than men for performing comparable work, as the gender pay gap shows; they are more likely to be single parents, which has a high correlation with greater poverty levels; and previous Insolvency Service statistics showed women were more likely than men to enter bankruptcy as a result of relationship breakdown.

“A number of factors have increased women’s insolvency rates over the last few years, not least the introduction of debt relief orders [DROs] in 2009 and their subsequent expansion a couple of years ago. DROs are designed to help people with low incomes, debts, and assets, and have been predominantly used by women. DROs have helped those who might not have been able to access an insolvency procedure otherwise.”

On geographical differences, Mark goes on to say:

“As with the gender split, the geographical distribution of individual insolvencies also follows the patterns of recent years. The places which have the highest rate of personal insolvency tend to be seaside towns, in towns affected by the decline of a particular industry, and in the north-east – where there is often a combination of both the other two factors. Although it’s not in the north-east, Stoke, an area where industry has declined, tops the list of local authority personal insolvency rates.

“The problems facing seaside towns are well known, and six of the 10 places with the highest rate of personal insolvency are by the sea. Seasonal work dries up over the winter, and when it is available, wages tend to be low. In more heartening news, however, the government launched a £40 million fund in February to encourage investment and to boost jobs in coastal communities. The vibrant economies of seaside cities like Brighton show that coastal settlements can become prosperous, given the right conditions.

Read the full summary from R3 and the official statistics at Gov.uk.