HOUSEHOLD financial misery is predicted to continue in 2013, with an estimated 400 Scots a week facing personal bankruptcy.
There is no sign of any significant fall in the number of Scots facing sequestration or being forced to take out a Protected Trust Deed, which is expected to continue at a rate of almost 20,000 a year, according to accountants and business advisers PKF.
Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner with PKF, said: "There was a widespread assumption the economy would start to show signs of recovery in 2012.
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"However, it is clear from Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, as well as other statistical and anecdotal evidence, that sustained economic growth remains elusive. The result is that personal insolvencies, while stabilising, remain at a very high rate in historic terms."
He added: "Personal insolvencies appear to be steady at around 20,000 per year. While this number is lower than the peak in 2009, when 23,541 Scots were made bankrupt, it is a very high figure indeed.
"In 2004 there were 9321 Scottish personal bankruptcies, and in 1998 there were just 4465. The reality is that 400 Scots face financial Armageddon each week."
Mr Jackson cited cuts in public sector employment coupled with rising utility bills, higher food costs, and frozen wage levels as factors forcing many individuals into borrowing simply to live. This often involved high interest sources such as payday lenders, which increases the risk of falling into overwhelming indebtedness within a short period.
He added: "Given that personal insolvencies are at the extreme end of financial distress, there will be hundreds of thousands of Scots simply treading water and meeting interest rate payments, but with little hope of repaying their debts in the near future.
"With no improvement in the economy, employment insecurity rife, and rising living costs, there is little sign of this level of personal insolvency reducing over the next three to four years. This means another 80,000 to 100,000 Scots will go bust in the next four to five years."
Mr Jackson said Scotland has a personal insolvency rate which is almost twice that of the rest of the UK, and a static economy unlikely to drive growth in the next year.
His views were echoed by Susan McPhee, head of policy at Citizens Advice Scotland, who said: "Almost 20,000 is too many, and every individual case is a personal tragedy and a family whose finances have been wrecked. Nobody wants to become bankrupt; it is not a soft option. Unfortunately, for many people, their finances are in such a bad way it is their only realistic option."
Ms McPhee said it was vital people get advice before they take such a course, as other options may be available, and even if they do opt for insolvency they need expert advice through the process.
Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: "With Scotland having a personal insolvency rate almost twice the rest of the UK, the SNP must re-double their efforts on growing the economy. Job security, prosperity and an improved quality of life for all must be their overriding goal."
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said comparing 2004 personal insolvency figures to today's numbers was problematic as new routes to bankruptcy had been introduced during the intervening years.
She added: "The Scottish Government and its agencies continue to look at ways to help individuals struggling to break the cycle of debt. The Scottish Government's debt management tool, the Debt Arrangement Scheme, continues to be a viable option for Scots struggling with debt."