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27 August 2006

Debt Crisis Is Now Forcing Teenagers Into Bankruptcy - Sunday Express

by Meg Milne, Sunday Express

Crippling debt is forcing a record number of young Scots, some just 18, into bankruptcy, it emerged yesterday.

New figures show 122 people between the ages of 16 and 24 were declared bankrupt last year bringing the total to 563 since 2000.

The figures also reveal the youngest person to be officially sequestrated by the courts was 18 years old.

Details of the debts have been compiled by the Accountant in Bankruptcy, an Executive Agency for Scottish Ministers.

The shocking statistics were revealed by Deputy Justice Ministers Hugh Henry to Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson in a Parliamentary answer.

Now financial experts are predicting the number will rise dramatically as an increasing number of young people struggle to pay off student laons and credit card debt.

The National Union of Students estimates each student now has £15,000 of debt by the time they graduate. With the figure mounting the Student Loan Company confirms borrowers are more than £186million behind in their loan repayments.

The company is now paying debt collectors £190,000 a year to claw back £100,000 a month.

Scottish Nationalist Mr Stevenson said yesterday: "I am not suprised by these figures. I and a number of other MSPs have long suspected there is a clear link showing the increased cost of education is burdening students with debt.

"The figures also confirm young people are going bankrupt as a direct result of the cost of their studies.

"They are using bankruptcy as the only way to get out of debt."

However, financials advisors blame the many bankruptcies on a "spend now, worry later" culture, rising interest rates and energy bills.

Lenders are accused of throwing money at customers, particularly teenagers and students without checking properly if they have the resources to repay.

One bankrupt Edinburgh student ran up debts of more than £30,000 on two loans, two credit cards and a store card.

The total number of bankruptcies in Scotland is now at an all-time high with 100 people a week going bust.

Figures compiled by financial advisors Grant Thornton show that, in the second quarter of 2006, the number of people declared bankrupt rose by five per cent on the previous three months to 1,305.

With the figures for the last year the highest ever for sequestrations 20 Scots a day are facing financial meltdown.

Since 2000, more than 11,300 people have gone bankrupt.

A bill to modernise Scotland's insolvency laws is currently going through Holyrood.
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