Media Hub

Insolvency by age, gender, and local authority

A report published this month by the Insolvency Service is giving an insight into the distribution of personal insolvencies dependent on age, gender, and area over the past 18 years in England and Wales.


What’s measured?

The report looked at personal insolvency data from between 2000-2018 measured at every 10,000 adults and accounted for those in formal procedures due to the inability to pay their debts.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the report:

1. 5 year high – but not to 2008’s levels

Although rates rose consistently over the last 5 years of the period, they’re yet to hit the heights of post financial crash in 2008. Personal insolvency rates jumped to more than 30 in every 10,000 and stayed there until 2011. Rates began to drop in 2012 and then more gradually until 2015, at which point they began to increase, recording a rise every year since until 2019.

2. It’s a boy/girl thing

The report has shown that, regardless of region, women were more likely to file for insolvency across the period, with women 3.2 per 10,000 higher than their male counterparts. Women surpassed men in insolvency rates in 2014 after 5 years of a narrowing gap before which men consistently held the highest rate.

However, individual voluntary arrangement (IVA’s) – the leading form of insolvency – is nearly the same for both genders, accounting for 62% for men and 61% for women.

3. Bigger risks at different ages

The disparity between the genders continues to be seen at different ages. The trend of recent years has been that the young (18-24) have low rates which peak in middle age (35-44) before dropping away. However, the 25-34 age group saw the largest increase at 7.6 per 10,000, catching up with the 35-44 group which is the highest of all the age groups.

4. Regions disparity – no sign of slowing down

Not only has the region you live in shown to impact your chances of entering insolvency, this only seems to be increasing over time. The North West region has seen the largest increase with rates of 6 per 10,000 compared to London which only saw a 1.5 per 10,000 increase. The North West has consistently performed poorly, holding the top title since 2008.

5. Going coastal

You’re more likely to file insolvency if you live in a coastal area, with 6 out of the 10 local authorities with the highest rate being located on the coast. This lines up with finding of the living wage organisation, listing 15 of the 20 most deprived regions in the UK being located in coastal areas. 

Though this doesn’t necessarily correlate to higher unemployment – what with the ONS (Office of National Statistics) listing West & East Midland, North East, Yorkshire and Humner and London as holding higher levels of unemployment. 

Blackpool has held onto the title of highest rates of individual voluntary arrangements for the third year in a row- at 28.4 per 10,000. The local authority with the lowest rates were Kesington and Chlesea with 4.6 per 10,000.


Despite the data, the future’s looking brighter.  In a market that’s seen high profile high street names such as Debenhams, Bath Store, and Topshop hitting the headlines for their financial difficulty, personal insolvency rates, though still high, have dropped in the first 2 quarters of 2019. 

However, with economic uncertainty only looking to increase in the wake of Brexit, if you’re in a position of financial difficulty it’s still recommended to seek advice sooner to give yourself the opportunity to rectify the situation. The Insolvency service offers various advice, including this tool to help guide you if you’re struggling with debt.



Claire Jones is the Principal Resourcing Consultant in the Accountancy Division at Harvey John.

Search our latest accountancy jobs here.

If you would like to see our company updates and industry insights, follow our LinkedIn page here.

Share this article: