Bankruptcies up 16% as deferrals, JobKeeper rate wound back

author-avatar By on October 21, 2020
Bankruptcies up 16% as deferrals, JobKeeper rate wound back

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Australian Financial Security Authority recorded a 15.5% increase to 285 bankruptcies in the past fortnight, up from 244 in the previous period.

From 5 to 18 October, a total of 409 insolvencies (bankruptcies, debt agreements and personal insolvencies) were recorded by AFSA, up from 372 between 21 September and 4 October.

This coincides with the end of some mortgage deferrals, and the reduced rate of JobSeeker and JobKeeper, which were wound back in late September.

AFSA says the majority of those who became insolvent came from the sectors of healthcare and social assistance; transport, postal and warehousing; and accommodation and food services.

Debt protections increased 69.2% (13 to 22) when comparing the previous two fortnights, as the longer debt protection periods wore off. 

On 25 March, the temporary debt protection period was increased from 21 days to six months.

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More than one quarter (108) of total insolvencies were related to businesses, up from 98 in the previous fortnight. 

In the nine months preceding COVID-19 (1 July 2019 to 22 March 2020), however, the average number of insolvencies per fortnight was 844.

Personal insolvencies and debt agreements in the past fortnight were also lower, falling from 128 to 124 compared to the fortnight prior.

The lower numbers compared to the nine months pre-COVID could be attributed to changes in the bankruptcy laws and JobKeeper working as intended, while the slight uptick over the previous fortnight could also be attributed to the new digital bankruptcy process, which began 1 October.

In May, various insolvency experts warned of the impending spike in insolvencies.

Malcolm Howell, partner at insolvency specialist firm Jirsch Sutherland said the various new rules merely provided "breathing space".

“Once the government relief measures expire, many SMEs that have deferred their liabilities are likely to receive a severe capital hit six or more months down the track and might not be able to meet their obligations,” he said.

“And given a lot of small-business owners often use personal finances for business borrowings – including using their homes as a guarantee – they are more vulnerable.”


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Harrison joined Savings in 2020. He is an experienced journalist, with previous stints at News Corp and financial comparison site Canstar. With a keen interest in personal finance, Harrison is passionate about helping consumers make more informed financial decisions.

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