Pros and cons of bankruptcies UK - What You Need to Know

Pros and Cons of Bankruptcies UK – What you Need to Know

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of bankruptcies UK and what factors you should consider when deciding whether petitioning for your own bankruptcy is the right choice for you. We will also explore some of the alternative options you can pick from and some of the advantages and disadvantages of these alternative options.

Understanding Bankruptcy in the UK

Bankruptcy is a legal process in the United Kingdom that individuals may choose to enter into when they are unable to repay their debts. It provides relief from overwhelming financial burdens, but it also comes with serious consequences. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of what bankruptcy entails for individuals in the UK.

Duration of Bankruptcy:

Once bankruptcy proceedings begin, they typically last for a specific period, after which the individual is discharged from bankruptcy. In the UK, the duration of bankruptcy is generally one year. However, it’s important to note that the consequences of bankruptcy can extend beyond this period, impacting creditworthiness and financial options for years to come.

Administration of Bankruptcy:

Bankruptcy in the UK is administered by the Insolvency Service, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The Insolvency Service is responsible for overseeing the bankruptcy process and ensuring its fair and orderly conduct. It appoints an Official Receiver who acts as the trustee in bankruptcy and manages the affairs of the bankrupt individual.

Dealing with Assets:

When an individual enters bankruptcy, their assets become part of the bankruptcy estate. The Official Receiver or an insolvency practitioner may be appointed to take control of these assets and determine how they will be dealt with to repay creditors. The bankruptcy estate typically includes property, investments, vehicles, and other valuable possessions. However, certain assets may be exempt from bankruptcy, such as essential household items and tools required for work.

The assets in the bankruptcy estate are typically sold, and the proceeds are distributed among the creditors according to a predetermined order of priority. Secured creditors, such as mortgage lenders or those with a charge on a specific asset, are usually given priority over unsecured creditors. It’s important to note that bankruptcy may not fully discharge all debts, and certain obligations like student loans, court fines, or child maintenance payments may still need to be repaid even after the bankruptcy process concludes.

Pros of Bankruptcies in the UK

Bankruptcy in the UK offers several advantages for individuals facing overwhelming debt. Understanding the advantages of bankruptcies can help individuals make informed decisions about their financial future. Let’s explore the potential benefits of bankruptcy in the UK:

  1. Debt-Free in 12 Months: One significant advantage of bankruptcy is the opportunity to become debt-free in as little as 12 months. Once the bankruptcy process is completed, eligible debts are discharged, providing individuals with a fresh start and a chance to rebuild their financial lives.
  2. Relief from Creditor Contact: When an individual files for bankruptcy, they are protected from constant communication and harassment from creditors. This means no more intimidating phone calls, letters, or emails demanding payment. Bankruptcy provides a legal shield against such creditor actions, offering peace of mind and reducing stress levels.
  3. Asset Protection: Contrary to popular belief, bankruptcy does not always result in losing all of one’s possessions. In the UK, individuals are allowed to retain certain essential assets, such as household furniture, clothing, and tools necessary for employment. This ensures that individuals can maintain a basic standard of living during and after the bankruptcy process.
  4. Halting Court Actions: Filing for bankruptcy can put a stop to court actions related to outstanding debts. This includes County Court Judgments (CCJs) and other legal proceedings initiated by creditors. Bankruptcy provides individuals with a breathing space, preventing further legal action and allowing them to focus on their financial recovery.
  5. Potential Mortgage Relief: Bankruptcy may offer relief for individuals struggling to repay their mortgage. In some cases, if the property has limited equity and selling it would not significantly benefit the creditors, individuals may be able to remain in their homes while still addressing their debts through bankruptcy.
  6. Freedom from Unsecured Debts: Bankruptcy is particularly effective in discharging unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills. This means that individuals are no longer legally obligated to repay these debts, providing a fresh start and the ability to rebuild their financial lives without the burden of past obligations.
  7. Court Protection: Bankruptcy provides legal protection by initiating an automatic stay, which prevents creditors from taking further legal action against the individual. This protects individuals from wage garnishments, asset seizures, and other legal consequences resulting from outstanding debts.
  8. Relief for Joint Debts: Bankruptcy can provide relief for individuals burdened by joint debts. While it won’t discharge the responsibility of the other party, it can alleviate the burden for the bankrupt individual, freeing them from the legal obligations associated with joint debts.

Cons of Bankruptcies in the UK

Bankruptcy can provide individuals in the United Kingdom with a fresh start and relief from overwhelming debt. However, it’s important to consider the disadvantages of bankruptcies before making this significant decision. In this section, we will outline several key drawbacks associated with bankruptcies in the UK.

  1. Credit Implications: Bankruptcy has severe consequences for an individual’s creditworthiness. It will remain on their credit file for six years, making it challenging to access credit or obtain favorable interest rates during this period. Even after the bankruptcy is discharged, it may still affect future borrowing opportunities.
  2. Limited Access to Financial Services: During the bankruptcy period, individuals may struggle to open new bank accounts, obtain mortgages, or access certain financial services. This can hinder their ability to manage day-to-day finances and plan for the future.
  3. Professional Restrictions: Bankruptcy can have professional repercussions, especially for individuals in certain occupations. Some professions, such as law, accountancy, or positions involving financial management, may have specific regulations or ethical considerations that restrict bankrupt individuals from practicing or holding certain roles.
  4. Public Record: Bankruptcy filings in the UK are publicly accessible records, which means that personal financial difficulties become a matter of public knowledge. This lack of privacy can be distressing for individuals who value their financial reputation and wish to keep their situation confidential.
  5. Impact on Assets: While certain assets may be exempt from bankruptcy, individuals may still lose valuable possessions, including property, vehicles, and investments. The Official Receiver or appointed insolvency practitioner may sell these assets to repay creditors, leaving individuals with limited resources for a fresh start.
  6. Employment Challenges: Bankruptcy can impact an individual’s employment prospects. Some employers conduct credit checks as part of their hiring process, and a bankruptcy record may raise concerns about an individual’s financial responsibility, potentially affecting their chances of securing certain job opportunities.
  7. Business Restrictions: If an individual operates a business that goes bankrupt, they may face limitations on starting or managing another business in the future. This can be a significant setback for entrepreneurs or individuals seeking self-employment opportunities.
  8. Social Stigma: Despite the increasing awareness and understanding of financial difficulties, bankruptcy still carries a social stigma for some individuals. The fear of judgment and the emotional toll of going through the process can have adverse effects on an individual’s mental well-being and self-esteem.

Factors to Consider Before Filing for Bankruptcy in the UK

pros and cons of bankruptcies UK - Factors you should consider

Filing for bankruptcy is a significant decision that can have long-lasting consequences on an individual’s financial and personal life. It is crucial to carefully evaluate your situation and consider various factors before proceeding with bankruptcy in the United Kingdom. In this section, we will highlight several key considerations to help you make an informed choice.

  1. Financial Assessment: Before filing for bankruptcy, it’s essential to assess your overall financial situation. Evaluate your income, expenses, and outstanding debts. Consider whether alternative debt solutions, such as debt management plans or individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), might be viable options to help you manage your debts without resorting to bankruptcy.
  2. Professional Advice: Seeking advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner or a debt advisor is highly recommended. They can provide expert guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, helping you understand the implications of bankruptcy, exploring alternative solutions, and determining whether bankruptcy is the most suitable course of action for you.
  3. Debt Repayment Options: Evaluate the possibility of negotiating with your creditors or exploring debt repayment plans. In some cases, creditors may be open to accepting reduced payments or agreeing to a revised repayment schedule, which can help alleviate financial burdens without resorting to bankruptcy.
  4. Impact on Assets: Consider how bankruptcy will affect your assets. While certain assets may be exempt, others could be sold to repay creditors. If you have valuable possessions or significant equity in property, carefully evaluate whether you are willing to potentially lose them in the bankruptcy process.
  5. Credit Consequences: Understand the long-term impact of bankruptcy on your creditworthiness. Bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for six years, making it challenging to obtain credit or favorable interest rates during this period. It’s important to consider how this may affect your ability to secure loans, mortgages, or other financial products in the future.
  6. Legal and Professional Implications: If you are in certain professions, such as law or accountancy, bankruptcy may have regulatory or ethical consequences. Research the rules and regulations within your specific field to understand any professional restrictions that may apply.
  7. Emotional and Social Impact: Consider the emotional toll that bankruptcy can have on you and your family. The stress and stigma associated with bankruptcy can be challenging to manage. It’s essential to have a support system in place to help you navigate the emotional aspects and maintain a positive outlook during the process.
  8. Future Goals and Plans: Evaluate your long-term goals and plans. Bankruptcy can impact your ability to start a business, obtain certain professional licenses, or even travel to certain countries. Consider how these potential limitations may affect your future aspirations and weigh them against the benefits of bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy should be approached as a last resort, after careful consideration of the above factors and consultation with professionals. Taking the time to evaluate your options and seeking appropriate advice will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and circumstances.

Alternatives to Bankruptcy in the UK

When faced with overwhelming debt, bankruptcy is not the only solution. The United Kingdom offers several alternatives that can help individuals manage their financial challenges without resorting to bankruptcy. In this section, we will explore some of these alternatives, including Debt Relief Orders (DROs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), Debt Management Plans (DMPs), and negotiating with creditors. We will outline the pros and cons of each option and highlight any qualifying criteria.

Debt Relief Orders (DROs):

Debt Relief Orders are designed for individuals with relatively low levels of debt and minimal assets. Here are the pros and cons of DROs:


  • Affordable Solution: DROs have low application fees and do not require ongoing payments, making them a cost-effective option for those on a limited budget.
  • Debt Discharge: After a 12-month period, if your circumstances haven’t changed significantly, your qualifying debts will be discharged, providing you with a fresh start.


  • Qualifying Criteria: To be eligible for a DRO, you must meet specific criteria, including having debts below a certain threshold (£30,000 as of September 2021), limited assets, and a disposable income below a set amount.
  • Credit Impact: Similar to bankruptcy, a DRO will have a negative impact on your credit rating and will remain on your credit file for six years, affecting your ability to obtain credit during that time.

Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs):

  • IVAs are formal agreements between individuals and their creditors, offering a structured repayment plan. Consider the following pros and cons of IVAs:


  • Repayment Plan: IVAs provide a structured repayment plan, allowing you to repay your debts in a more manageable way over a fixed period (usually five to six years).
  • Legal Protection: Once approved, an IVA offers legal protection against further action from creditors, providing you with peace of mind and stability.


  • Eligibility Criteria: IVAs typically require a significant level of debt, usually around £6,000 or more, making them less suitable for individuals with lower levels of debt.
  • Credit Impact: Like other debt solutions, entering into an IVA will negatively impact your credit rating and remain on your credit file for six years, affecting your ability to access credit during that time.

Debt Management Plans (DMPs):

Debt Management Plans are informal arrangements made with creditors to repay debts at an affordable rate. Here are the pros and cons of DMPs:


  • Flexible Repayment: DMPs offer flexibility in repayment, allowing you to make reduced monthly payments based on your affordability.
  • Informal Arrangement: DMPs are informal, meaning there is no legal process involved, providing a more flexible and less formal solution.


  • Creditor Cooperation: In some cases, creditors may not agree to a DMP or may continue to contact you regarding the debt, as DMPs are not legally binding.
  • Prolonged Repayment: DMPs typically involve a longer repayment period, extending the time it takes to become debt-free compared to more formal arrangements.

Negotiating with Creditors:

Negotiating directly with your creditors can be an option worth considering. Here are the pros and cons:


  • Tailored Solutions: Negotiating with creditors allows for personalized solutions based on your financial situation and may result in reduced interest rates, waived fees, or extended repayment terms.
  • Privacy: Unlike formal debt solutions, negotiating with creditors is a private arrangement, keeping your financial difficulties confidential.


  • Creditor Cooperation: There is no guarantee that creditors will agree to negotiate or accept the proposed terms, leaving you with limited options if they are unwilling to cooperate.
  • Time and Effort: Negotiating with creditors can be time-consuming and may require strong negotiation skills and persistence to reach a satisfactory agreement.

It’s important to note that the suitability of these alternatives may vary depending on individual circumstances. Qualifying criteria for each option may also change over time, so it’s advisable to seek professional advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner or debt advisor to assess your eligibility and determine the most appropriate solution for your specific financial situation.


Bankruptcy can provide a pathway to financial freedom for individuals burdened by overwhelming debts. However, it is crucial to consider both the advantages and disadvantages before proceeding. We strongly recommend seeking professional advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner or financial advisor who can guide you through the process and help determine the most suitable debt solution for your specific circumstances.

If you have any further queries relating to bankruptcy or wish to discuss your financial difficulties, please speak to one of our professional advisors here at Become Debt Free today!


How much does it cost to declare bankruptcy?

As at July 2023, the cost of declaring bankruptcy in the UK is £680 for England and Wales. However, please note that these fees may change over time. It is advisable to consult with a professional, such as an insolvency practitioner or a debt advisor, who can provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding bankruptcy costs.

What if I can’t afford to declare bankruptcy?

If you are unable to afford the fees associated with declaring bankruptcy, there may be alternatives available to you. You can explore options such as a Debt Relief Order (DRO) or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), which are less expensive than bankruptcy. Additionally, you may seek advice from organizations like Citizens Advice or a debt charity, who can help assess your situation and guide you towards the most suitable solution for your financial circumstances.

What does a Trustee do in bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, a Trustee is appointed to oversee the process and administer your estate. Their primary role is to ensure fairness between you (the bankrupt individual) and your creditors. The Trustee’s responsibilities include gathering and selling your assets (if applicable), distributing funds to creditors, assessing your financial affairs, and providing guidance on your obligations during the bankruptcy period. They may also help you with your financial rehabilitation and provide advice on managing your finances after bankruptcy.

What debts cannot be included in bankruptcy?

While bankruptcy can help individuals struggling with overwhelming debt, there are certain types of debts that typically cannot be included. Examples of debts that are generally excluded from bankruptcy proceedings include secured debts (such as mortgages or car loans), court fines, child support or maintenance payments, student loans (in most cases), and certain tax debts. It is essential to seek professional advice to determine which debts are eligible for inclusion in your specific bankruptcy case, as the rules and regulations may vary depending on your circumstances.


The primary sources for this article are listed below.

Help with debt – Citizens Advice

Details of our standards for producing accurate, unbiased content can be found in our editorial policy here.

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Become Debt Free specialise in providing and administering Individual Voluntary Arrangement (“IVA”) solutions to individuals based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  We do not administer Debt Management Plans, Debt Relief Orders, or any other debt solutions.  We only provide advice after completing or receiving an initial fact find where the individual(s) concerned meets the criteria for an IVA, therefore, all advice is given in reasonable contemplation of an insolvency appointment.

* To qualify for debt write off in an IVA with us, you must have a minimum of £7,000 of qualifying unsecured debt owed to two or more creditors.  The amount of debt write off is based on your own personal circumstances – typically this could be up to 85% of what you owe; and this has been achieved by over 10% of our customers who have successfully completed their IVA’s in the last 12 months.  The amount of debt write off differs for each customer and is dependent upon their individual financial circumstances and subject to the approval of their creditors.

Andrew Bowers is authorised in the UK to act as Insolvency Practitioner by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.


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