Scotland's poorest and most vulnerable debtors were yesterday offered their cheapest escape from creditors.
The Scottish Government said it would allow so-called "Ninas" - people with no income and no assets - to declare themselves bankrupt for a fee of just £100.
The new "cheapie" bankruptcy will be available only to people who earn less than £220 a week, the equivalent of 40 hours on the minimum wage, and have less than £1000 in assets.
A capital(ist) solution to the problem of poverty !!
Meanwhile the Independent reports the accountancy firm Grant Thornton predicts the total number of personal insolvencies nationally will jump to at least 120,000 this year, almost triple the equivalent figure in 2004. As many as one third of bankruptcies in the first three months of the year will be caused by "excessive Christmas spending".
Steady increases in the cost of living are expected to tighten the screw. In only 12 months, the cost of filling up a vehicle with unleaded petrol had increased by 16 per cent, which meant the public was having to find an extra £155 a year to fill up the car.
Mr Gerrard , head of Grant Thornton's personal insolvency practice , said: "Coupled with rapidly increasing gas and electricity prices, which are forecast to jump by more than 10 per cent early this year, it's easy to see how those already struggling to pay off credit, particularly those servicing mortgages, are caving in to the pressure." He warned: "I believe personal insolvency numbers will move forward at a much faster pace than anticipated."
Howard Archer, the chief UK economist at Global Insight, suggested that in general people would have to be more frugal this year. "Household purchasing power is likely to be dented by higher energy and food prices over the coming months, while many home owners face having to re-fix their mortgages at significantly higher rates."
But there is always a silver lining inside capitalism since also according to the Independent , the debt collection industry grew sharply last year .There are now estimated to be 5,200 enforcement agents in England and Wales, including 600 county court bailiffs and more than 1,000 unregistered debt collection companies. Since 2003 the size of the industry has almost trebled, growing from £8.6bn of debt sold on to professional collection agencies to £22.7bn by the end of last year. It is forecast to grow to £24.1bn by the end of this year.