People going through bankruptcy will not be evicted from their properties for a sale to take place, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has announced.
The suspension of sale and eviction proceedings will continue until further notice.
Measures have also been announced to simplify procedures to help those seeking debt relief, with a view also to help alleviate the administrative burden on frontline money advisers and insolvency practitioners. The full list appears below.
AiB, which deals with approximately 80% of bankruptcy cases in Scotland, has urged other trustees to show similar leniency and flexibility.
Welcoming the new measures, Business Minister Jamie Hepburn commented: "This pandemic will have severe economic consequences and we are treating it as an economic emergency, affecting everyone from the largest conglomerates to small businesses and individuals.
"The Scottish Government is working hard to respond to this and we’ve announced a £2.2 billion package of measures to support businesses.
"We’re asking banks, insurance companies and our own departments to be flexible and compassionate wherever possible, including offering mortgage holidays and extending timescales for those in persistent credit card debt. This will help reduce the pressure on individuals facing financial difficulties caused or made worse by the current crisis, and we are actively considering what more we can do to help."
The full list of measures from AiB is:
- In bankruptcy cases (where AiB is named as trustee), AiB will suspend action on division and sale and eviction from property until further notice.
- The evidential requirements for individuals seeking debt relief through bankruptcy have been amended to allow faster access, providing protection from debt enforcement.
- AiB has written to other trustees involved in the bankruptcy process requesting that similar forbearance is shown in light of the prevailing circumstances.
- The processes for AiB’s determination and audit of trustee accounts will be streamlined on an interim basis, with additional detail set out in a letter to all trustees.
- Electronic signatures on protected trust deeds and associated documentation will be accepted, assisting continued access to the debt relief provided through this solution with a reduced requirement for face to face contact.
- AiB’s Insolvency Registrations team will work flexibly with money advisers and clients where there are difficulties in demonstrating income and expenditure and meeting the evidence requirements associated with the debtor application process.
- AiB has asked trustees who have concerns about meeting statutory timescales for bankruptcy and protected trust deeds to liaise with the appropriate AiB teams – a pragmatic approach will be taken.
- In anticipation that the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate issues faced by those with fluctuating earnings, with those on zero hours contracts particularly impacted, AiB has decided not to revoke Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) debt payment programmes due to non-payment with a causal link to COVID-19 until further notice.