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North East England has kept its unwanted place at the top of the national table for personal insolvency for the ninth year running.
According to the latest annual figures from the Insolvency Service, there were 25.3 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people in the North East in 2016, which are comprised of bankruptcies, Debt Relief Orders (DROs) and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).
The new figure represents a rise on the regional rate in 2015 of 22.6 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people, and isover 25% higher than the 2016 rate (19.7) across England and Wales as a whole.
County Durham was the North East local authority area with the highest personal insolvency rate in 2016 (28.8 per 10,000 people), ahead of South Tyneside (28.1), North Tyneside (27.4), Gateshead (27), Darlington and Sunderland (both 26.3).
And Andy Haslam, North East vice chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body and a partner with Tait Walker, is advising people across the region to take proactive steps to ensure they avoid ending up as part of next year’s statistics.
Across the UK, the new figures show the first rise in the total personal insolvency rate since 2009, with the rate of 17.6 per 10,000 adults in 2015 rising to 19.7 last year. The insolvency rate increased in all regions of England and Wales between 2015 and 2016.
The individual insolvency rate per 10,000 adults remained higher in 2016 for women (20.6) than it was for men (18.7) for the third consecutive year, while the gap between female and male rates has widened steadily from 1.0 in 2014 to 1.8 in 2016.
Insolvency rates were highest in 2016 in the 35-44 age group for both men and women, while they increased for all age groups except 55 and over, with those aged between 18-44 showing the biggest rises.
Andy Haslam says: “The latest regional personal insolvency statistics follow a very established pattern – insolvency rates are typically highest on the coast and in places where major industries have declined, and these are both factors which are having a significant impact on the North East.
“Coastal towns often have lower wages and higher levels of unemployment. The dominance of the tourist trade means available jobs are often low paid, part-time, or seasonal, which makes personal finances vulnerable to short-term shocks.
“While the North East economy is continuing to evolve and modernise, with sectors such as tourism and technology performing strongly and contributing ever more to it, the long-term effects of the decline of traditional industries in recent decades is still clearly being felt in communities right across the region.
“Money problems can hit anyone at any time for many different reasons, but there are perhaps the widest ever range of options available today to help people find solutions to their particular issues.
“Seeking qualified advice as quickly as you can is an essential step to anyone with money worries to take if they want to give themselves the best chance of getting things back on an even keel and finding the right way forward for themselves and their creditors.”