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In March 2021, I wrote a blog predicting CCJ levels in May 2021 following the implementation of Breathing Space (Debt Respite Scheme). The new legislation, which came into force on 4 May 2021, was designed to improve financial stability by temporarily freezing debts, fees, and enforcement for individuals struggling with problem debt, for 60-days. Breathing Space is predicted to improve the lives of 700,000 people in its first year.

Registry Trust maintains the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines for the UK and Ireland and maintains live data regarding financial stability, both commercially and for consumers. This blog compares my predictions for the number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) and median value of CCJs for consumers, corporate and non-corporate businesses in May 2021, to the reality, while considering the possible impact the initial implementation of Breathing Space had on May’s judgments.

Predictions vs reality

The total number of CCJs in May 2021 was 68,471, considerably lower than the prediction of 73,338. Similarly, the median value of CCJs in May 2021 was £602.00; again, significantly lower than the predicted median value of CCJs that was £908.70. The decrease in the total number of CCJs was driven by a considerable decrease in consumer CCJs (10.5%), while the decrease in median value was fuelled by a significant decrease in corporate median values (65.4%).

Focusing specifically on corporate businesses, the number of CCJs in May 2021 was 5,283, almost double the predicted number of corporate judgments at 2,869 (an 84% increase). Alternatively, the median value of CCJs in May 2021 was £902.00. As with the total median value of judgments, this number is significantly lower than the predicted median value, at £2,607.04.

The predictions were similar to the reality for non-corporate businesses. The number of CCJs in May 2021 reached 1,514, only 25 judgments more than the predicted number at 1,489. Similarly, the median value of CCJs in May 2021 was £1,297, just 6.7% lower than the predicted median value of £1,390.42.

The number of consumer CCJs in May 2021 reached 61,674, 10.5% lower than the predicted number of consumer CCJs, at 68,891. The median value of CCJs in May 2021 was £574; 33.7% lower than the predicted median value of consumer CCJs at £865.94.

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In six out of eight cases, the actual value is smaller than the predicted value. For example, the number of consumer CCJs was 10.5% lower in reality than what was predicted. Is this representative of the Breathing Space initiative working? Or simply that judgments haven’t returned to normality since the COVID-19 crisis?

On the other hand, the number of corporate CCJs was 84.1% higher in reality than was predicted. Is this representative of businesses continuing to struggle due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Are a larger number of preventative measures needed to protect these financially struggling corporations?

I will continue exploring the impact of the new Breathing Space legislation on our CCJ debt data over the course of this blog series. What do you predict will happen next? What have your experience of the Debt Respite Scheme been so far?

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