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Issue:- 6 January 2011

Dealing with debt is crucial to reduce record numbers of personal insolvencies

LEVELS of personal insolvency are starting to decline following a steady upward trend over the last 10 years says The Insolvency Service.

In 2009 personal insolvency numbers were the highest for 20 years. In 2010, despite a slight drop, the number of people entering into formal insolvency procedures remained relatively high, showing that more needs to be done to encourage people to manage their money better, and where possible, to avoid insolvency.

Insolvency affects different groups of people in different ways:-

Britain’s pensioners are shown to be the fastest growing group of bankrupt individuals in the UK. Although levels of bankruptcy among men and women aged over 65 are the lowest in the UK, the numbers of bankrupt individuals in this age group have increased six times in a decade and at a 50% faster rate than for other age groups;

Men still make up the majority of bankrupts (60% in 2009) but the proportion of women bankrupts is growing (from 29% in 2000, to 40% in 2009).

The average age of a bankrupt individual in the UK is 41, which is close to the average age of the population (39.5yrs).

Among women aged over 65, the rate of bankruptcy has grown even more sharply, over ten times between 2000 and 2009 and in London it is 43 times higher;

Since they started in April 2009 to the end of September 2010, 30,838 people have taken out Debt Relief Orders, to free them from unmanageable debt and support them in making a fresh financial start.

The average age of a person with a Debt Relief Order between April to December 2009 is 40 years old, which is comparable to that of a bankrupt for the same period (41 years old).

To encourage more people to deal with their debt, The Insolvency Service is running a week long event that started on 3 January and runs until, 8 January 2011 called:-

'Dealing with your debt'. The campaign is supported by charity sector partners, Citizens’ Advice, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and the Money Advice Trust.

When entering into a personal insolvency procedure more people need to be aware of where they can go to get free advice and that the insolvency regime offers them more than just bankruptcy. There are plenty of reputable organisations that supply debt management advice for free.

Stephen Speed, Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service said:- “Although personal insolvency levels are no longer rising, they remain stubbornly high, reflecting the high levels of personal debt that persist across the country. Prevention is much better than cure as far as personal finances are concerned. Review your personal finances frequently and make sure you are not taking on debt that you can’t afford to repay. If you are getting into trouble, act quickly and seek advice about how to deal with it. There are plenty of sources of advice, many of which are available free of charge. If insolvency looms then remember that you have choices. Discuss these with your adviser and make sure you understand which one is best for you. The Insolvency Service’s booklet, “In debt? Dealing with your creditors” provides clear and impartial information that will help you understand your options.”

The awareness raising campaign aims to encourage individuals with debt problems to deal with their financial situation responsibly by knowing where they can obtain free debt advice and understanding the options available to them if their level of debt is unmanageable.

Adding support to the campaign Citizens Advice Director of Policy, Teresa Perchard said:- “Post Christmas is a stressful time for many people who are struggling with their debts. Citizens Advice Bureaux are seeing more and more people every year who have trouble making ends meet and covering the most essential household bills. Money troubles don’t go away by themselves, as the shocking increase in the number of people seeking bankruptcy shows. The good news is that free help and advice is available on our website  and trained advisers in Citizens Advice Bureaux and other money advice agencies can help you prioritise your debts, negotiate with creditors and provide advice on a range of debt remedies. We want to help you find a solution that is right for you. But the key is to get advice early. If you are at all worried about your finances, don’t delay, get help.”

Una Farrell, from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, said:- “Dealing with debt is particularly hard as you get older as you are likely to have limited opportunities to increase your income. CCCS clients aged 55 and over, have on average, higher debt levels but lower incomes than overall CCCS clients. The average debt for a CCCS client over the age of 55 is £25,826 compared to £24,274 for CCCS clients overall, while the average annual income of a CCCS client over the age of 55 is £12,920, significantly lower than £17,316 for CCCS clients overall. It is very difficult to be struggling financially at a time in your life when you had expected to be more settled. However, there is free help available for those who find themselves in this situation. Anyone worried about debt should seek free advice that is available from a debt charity such as CCCS, National Debtline or their local Citizens Advice Bureau."

Joanna Elson OBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust said:- “The financial difficulties of the last few years have accelerated a longer term trend of more and more people struggling with debt. Debt advice charities like ours have had to bring about a step change in our capacity, not just to help people out of their immediate debt problems, but also to help them back into financial health and ensure they have the knowledge to avoid debt problems in the future. With potential rises in both unemployment and the cost of credit, 2011 could be a very difficult year for people struggling with debt. It is vital that anyone grappling with debt problems is able to make informed decisions and understand all of their options; the best way to do that is to seek advice from independent experts. However, our research shows that just one in six people with a debt problem seek advice – a statistic we hope to change this year. The good news is that free, independent advice is available, and that the free-to-client advice sector has successfully developed to meet the huge growth in demand we have witnessed. We are working closely with our funders including Government to ensure that this capability continues to exist through 2011 and beyond. Effective free, independent money advice is available from a range of organisations through a variety of different channels including face to face, telephone and online.”

Are you a poetry champ?

THE search is on for Merseyside's poetry champions. One poet will represent each UK town in the National Poetry Anthology, the UK’s biggest free annual poetry competition. Entry is free and, like all the other winners, the Southport winner gets a free copy of the book with their poem in it. One overall winner also receives £1,000. "The National Poetry Anthology is designed to encourage new writers. It has rocketed in popularity and we expect the new one to be even better." said its editor, Peter Quinn. Send three unpublished poems on any subject (up to 20 lines and 160 words each) to United Press Ltd, Admail 3735, London EC1B 1JB by the closing date of 30 June 2011, or visit:- .

Boost for ‘Clatterbridge your cancer centre'

MERSEYTRAVEL staff have chosen ‘Clatterbridge your cancer centre’ as their corporate charity for 2011. Each year Merseytravel staff vote for one locally based registered charity to support throughout the year.

‘Clatterbridge your cancer centre’
is the only charity that raises funds to directly benefit the patients of Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, the leading cancer treatment centre for people in Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and the Isle of Man.

Every year more than 25,000 patients are referred for treatment to Clatterbridge and money raised allows the centre to improve the care, treatment, support and facilities offered, providing many “extras” over and above what the NHS would be expected to supply. This can make an important difference to a patient and their families.

Kim Smith Corporate Fundraising Manager at ‘Clatterbridge your cancer centre’ said:- “We would like to thank the staff of Merseytravel for choosing us as their charity for 2011. As so many of our patients come from the Merseyside area, we feel that this will be an exciting and beneficial partnership and we are all thrilled at the prospect of working with Merseytravel.”

Councillor Mark Dowd, chair of Merseytravel added:- “For the past nine years our staff have voted for a good cause to become our corporate charity and this year we are pleased to be supporting ‘Clatterbridge your cancer centre”

Previous charities supported by Merseytravel are:-

► 2010 Sundowns (Supporting people with down’s syndrome and their families)

► 2009 Claire House Children’s Hospice

► 2008 CHICS (Children’s Cancer Support Group)

► 2007 Knowsley Family Link (SCOPE)

► 2006 Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool

► 2005 Stick ’n’ Step (Helping children with cerebral palsy)

► 2004 Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

► 2003 St Joseph’s Hospice Thornton

Liverpool praised for tackling housing challenge

THE work Liverpool City Council is doing to improve housing in the city has been praised in a new report by the government’s independent watchdog, the Audit Commission.

The strategic housing service has been ranked as ‘fair’ (one star out of a possible three) with ‘promising’ prospects for improvement.

The report concludes that housing is a priority for the city council, and progress is being made improving the choice available to local people.

It singles out the progress made in clearing obsolete and poor quality housing stock and improving the choice of new homes, as well as a reduction in the level of empty properties.

Council Leader Joe Anderson said:- “I am pleased that this report recognises our work to improve the quality of housing in the city. We are determined to tackle the many decades of underinvestment in housing in Liverpool and provide a greater choice of types and size of properties. The Audit Commission report vindicates our approach of refurbishing homes whenever possible, and demolition where it is uneconomic to renovate them. Despite the government’s decision to axe £27 million from Liverpool’s housing renewal programme, which has put 1,000 families in limbo, we are in discussions with developers and pursuing all opportunities for investment so we can continue the work we have already started.”

Inspectors also found that housing related support is extending independence to more vulnerable people and the focus on prevention is reducing the level of homelessness.

The Audit Commission also identified other areas of good practice, including the ground-breaking work with Liverpool Primary Care Trust (PCT) on the Healthy Homes Initiative in tackling poor quality housing in the private rented sector, as well as positive working with Engage, the leaseholders federation in the city centre. The private rented sector was identified as an area for improvement.

Riza Yassin, Audit Commission Lead Housing Inspector in the north, said:- “Economic decline has left Liverpool with major housing challenges. With the assistance of the housing market renewal pathfinder, New Heartlands, the Council is addressing these, particularly in designated regeneration areas. However, more needs to be done to improve existing housing in the private sector, especially the private rented sector.”

In March 2010 the Audit Commission assessed New Heartlands, the Merseyside Housing Market Renewal pathfinder, as performing strongly (the 'top’ mark).

Copies of the report are available from the Audit Commission website at:-


MERSEYSIDE Police and Greater Manchester Police are working closely in a joint policing operation surrounding Liverpool FC playing Manchester Utd. at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday, 9 January 2010. The following advice is being offered to fans travelling to the match:-

► Supporters are urged not to travel unless they posses a valid match ticket

► Anyone arriving at the stadium under the influence of alcohol will not be allowed inside and risk prosecution

► Drinking in the street is prohibited

► Supporters of both teams will be allowed to purchase alcohol inside the stadium

► In relation to flags and banners, providing they are not on poles and do not exceed a size of 2 x 1 metre they will be allowed inside. This is for safety reasons

► It is possible that at the end of the game Liverpool supporters will be asked to remain in their seats and after a short delay escorted to their transport

Both Police Forces hope that all supporters enjoy the day.

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