Hi. My name is Liz Thomas, and I work for the Insolvency Service. We are a Government agency that provides public services to those affected by financial distress. One of those services is bankruptcy. We’ve all heard of it, and we all know it sounds scary. But what is bankruptcy really? At its most basic bankruptcy is a debt relief options for individuals. It’s provided by the Government and lasts for 12 months. Anyone who lives in England and Wales, is over 18 and can’t pay their debts is eligible no matter how much or how little they owe. So how does bankruptcy work? You apply by completing an online application that you can complete at home in your own time. You will have to pay a £680 fee before you can submit your application, but if you need help paying the fee you can search for a grant at www.turn2us.org.uk. Once submitted, your application will come to me and my team at the Insolvency Service. We will look at your application to make sure it meets all the eligibility criteria for bankruptcy. We will usually do this by reviewing the information you already submitted, but sometimes we will ask you for additional information before we make a decision. You won’t have to meet with us or go to court, and we’ll normally make our decision within 2 working days although some more complex applications may take longer. If we approve your application you’ll be made bankrupt. Your bankruptcy will last for 12 months. As soon as it begins the creditors you owe money to can’t ask you to pay them. Instead, they will deal directly with an Insolvency Service official called the Official Receiver. The Official Receiver will use the information you’ve provided in your application to learn about your personal situation. They may also speak to you on the phone or call you in for an interview if they need to know more. The role of the Official Receiver is to use the things you own and your extra income to pay back as much what owe as possible. If you can afford it you may need to make monthly payments toward your debts for up to 3 years. But, if you don’t own anything or have any extra income you won’t be asked to repay. Even if you do other things, you will normally be allowed to keep household goods, for example, your refrigerator, furniture and possibly even your car if you need it for work or other responsibilities. If you own a property, it’s possible it may be sold. But this won’t happen right away, and the Official Receiver will explain your options to you before taking any action. You’ll have to follow certain rules called bankruptcy restrictions during your bankruptcy. For example, you won’t be able to borrow more than £500 without telling the lender you’re bankrupt. However, these restrictions only lasts for 12 months, and you can find out more about them on GOV.UK. Bankruptcy is a complex matter and you should learn as much as you can about it and your other debt relief options before deciding what you want to do. The Money Advice Service has information about where you can get free help and advice from a debt advisor. You can also find out more about all your options by visiting GOV.UK.