A third (33%) of adults in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside would find it very difficult or impossible to immediately pay an unexpected £100 bill without help from an external source.

According to new research from insolvency trade body R3, and ComRes, the figure rises to 45% for adults in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside if they suddenly had to pay a £250 bill, and goes up to 57% for £500.

R3’s latest Personal Debt Snapshot, which looks at the state of the UK’s personal finances across its different regions, found that a third (37%) of adults in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside were worried about their current level of debt.

Credit card debt is the cause of most concern among adults in the region, cited by 49% of those who are worried about their current level of debt, followed by overdrafts (19%), bank loans (13%) and mortgage repayments (12%).

While 20% of adults in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside felt that their financial situation would improve in the next six months compared to 13% who think it will worsen, four in 10 (43%) adults in the region said they sometimes (30%) or often (13%) struggle to make it to pay day.

The cost of food was cited by 44% of adults in the region who often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday as a reason for this, followed by household energy bills (36%), fuel/transport costs (24%), and credit card repayments (23%).

Andrew Haslam, chair of R3 in the North East and head of specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP’s Newcastle office, says: “The research is more evidence of financial precariousness in the region – it’s a worrying sign that many people do not have any kind of financial cushion to fall back on if needed, and demonstrates the toll taken by years of non-existent real wage growth on levels of savings.

“Many people are one unexpected bill away from losing financial stability, and of course, unexpected bills for these amounts aren’t very uncommon – £20 for a school uniform, £100 for a new washing machine motor, £250 for car servicing or repair, or £500 for a boiler repair or replacement – so the amount of problems that one could cause for so many people is a real concern.

“A missed payment for a relatively small amount can be the trigger for an escalation in debt that soon becomes impossible to juggle.

“When bills like these become too much, people in debt might discover another unexpected and unaffordable bill, as it costs £680 in government fees to actually enter bankruptcy.

“This kind of artificial barrier to an insolvency procedure makes it harder for people to resolve their debts and rehabilitate themselves financially. The Government must look at how to make bankruptcy more accessible.

“Anyone worried about their debt or struggling with their finances should speak to a qualified and regulated expert about their options as soon as they feel things are starting to get out of control, so that they have the best chance of finding a solution which can put them back on the road towards financial stability.”