From 6 April 2016 people seeking to make themselves bankrupt will no longer need to apply to the court. Instead they will complete an online application on GOV.UK, which will be submitted to an Adjudicator employed by The Insolvency Service.
Online applications will be less expensive and, for the first time, will be able to be paid for in instalments.
Insolvency Service chief executive Sarah Albon said:
“Seeking help to deal with problem personal debt is the key step to being able to move forward. Online bankruptcy applications will be easier for people to complete and will remove the perceived stigma of going to court, which we know stops some people from applying.
“The launch of online applications on GOV.UK is part of a wider government plan to transform public services, making them easier to use and saving the taxpayer money.”
The current application fee for a personal bankruptcy application to court (known as a ‘debtor petition’) is £180. Online applications to the Adjudicator will cost £130 and can be ‘saved up for’ by paying in instalments online using a debit card. .
People and businesses owed money who are seeking to have someone declared bankrupt (known as ‘creditor petitions’) will continue to apply to a Court Registrar as they do now.
Notes to editors
You can listen to a podcast recorded by the Money Advice Trust in which Liz Kenny, our Online Debt Solutions Service Manager explains more about the new system.
In 2015 almost 80,000 people (79,965 individuals) used a debt solution for which official statistics are collected – this included 39,993 individual voluntary arrangements, 24,175 debt relief orders and 15,797 bankruptcy orders. Most bankruptcy applications are made by those in debt (in 2015 11,423 petitions – 72 per cent - were made to court by those seeking their own bankruptcy). Statistics on the number of people entering a debt management plan are not currently collected.
There are different eligibility arrangements for each of the various debt solutions. You can [read our summary] (www.gov.uk/options-for-paying-off-your-debt) of the different options.
The online bankruptcy application process has been developed using research with people experiencing problem personal debt, former bankrupts, debt advice charities and other organisations to ensure it is simple and easy to use. An assisted digital option will be available for those who are unable to complete the online application themselves.
The introduction of online bankruptcy applications is accompanied by the launch of a new interactive smart answer tool to help people with problem personal debt to choose which debt solution is right for them.
Media enquiries for this press release – 020 7674 6910 or 020 7596 6187
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