Higher levels of bankruptcy along the Border as credit crunch kicks in

Some Border and midland counties are experiencing a significant credit crunch compared to elsewhere in the country, new figures indicate.

Fresh statistics on the regional spread of debt judgments and bankruptcies are indicative of a lack of lending in these regions by the major financial institutions compared to Dublin and surrounding counties.

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This is the conclusion drawn by debt analysis experts Stubbs Gazette following an examination of debt trends over the past year.

The data show a much lower proportion of debt judgments being registered in counties such as Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan, Tipperary and Offaly.

However, these counties also have a high proportion of bankruptcies per head of population.

Stubbs Gazette managing director James Treacy said that while there were many signs the economy is improving, the statistics were indicative of a credit crunch in certain parts of the country, particularly near the Border.

“While counter-intuitive, it makes sense when you think about it.

“Judgments arise as a result of credit gone bad. As more credit is extended, judgments will increase as a natural result,” he said.

Mr Treacy said the combined level of judgments as a percentage of the populations of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan was less than half what it was in Leinster.

Conversely, the level of bankruptcies per head of population in the Ulster counties is running at almost twice that of Leinster.

“Insolvencies increase dramatically when there is a credit crunch and bankruptcies are the final manifestation of insolvency,” said Mr Treacy.

“On this basis, it is obvious that the credit crunch is alive and kicking in certain areas of the country, especially around the Border regions,” he said.

“One of the factors contributing to this is the lack of disposable income per person in this region.

“The latest CSO figures show that disposable income per person in the Border counties is 12pc lower than the national average, while Dublin is 14pc above the national average.

“This is a huge consideration in the credit provider’s decision-making process.”

In total, there were 659 bankruptcies in 2018.

The counties with the most bankruptcies per head of population were Cavan, Tipperary, Offaly, Waterford and Monaghan.

Some 135 bankruptcies occurred in Dublin.

However, the county was the fourth lowest for bankruptcies per head of population.

There were 62 bankruptcies in Co Cork, 19 in Co Limerick, 43 in Co Galway and 26 in Co Waterford.

Meanwhile, 2,434 debt judgments were registered by lenders last year.

These had a total value of €249.7m.

The value of registered judgments was up slightly on 2016, when the total amount involved was €232.1m.

Such judgments, once secured, mean a lender can seek to pursue the borrowers’ assets to clear the debt.

This can include getting a judgment mortgage, where a creditor registers a charge against a property owned by a debtor.

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