North East England has retained its unwanted place at the top of the national table for personal insolvency for the eleventh successive year.

According to the latest annual figures from the Insolvency Service, there were 33.2 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people in the region in 2018, which are comprised of bankruptcies, Debt Relief Orders (DROs) and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).

The new figure represents a sharp rise on the 2017 regional rate of 27.2 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people, and of 25.3 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people in the year before that.

Andrew Haslam, North East chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, is advising people across the region who think their finances could be getting out of hand to take proactive steps to seek advice.

The North East has the highest rate of both debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary arrangements, and the joint highest rate of bankruptcy, alongside the South West, while its rate is also almost a third higher than the personal insolvency rate across England and Wales as a whole last year (25.0 per 10,000), a figure which has itself gone up from 21.4 per 10,000 in 2017.

Personal insolvency rates rose between 2017 and 2018 in every single one of the 12 local authority areas that cover North East England.

Stockton-on-Tees was the local authority area with the region’s highest personal insolvency rate in 2018 (39.8 per 10,000 people, up significantly from 28.9 in 2017), followed by Hartlepool (38.0 per 10,000 people), County Durham (36.4), North Tyneside (35.6) and South Tyneside (35.2).

Redcar & Cleveland recorded the lowest rate of personal insolvency last year (25.8 per 10,000 people), just ahead of Northumberland (26.2) and Gateshead (30.7).

Across the UK, the individual insolvency rate per 10,000 adults remained higher for women (26.6) than it was for men (23.3) for the fifth consecutive year, while the gap between female and male rates has widened from 2.4 in 2017 to 3.3 last year.

Andrew Haslam, who is also head of specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP’s Newcastle office, says: “The steep rises that we’ve seen between 2017 and 2018 may partially be down to a greater awareness of the range of solutions available to people with financial troubles who decide take steps to resolve them, but equally, it’s a real concern to see such a sharp year-on-year jump occurring here.

“As in previous years, the places which have the highest rates of personal insolvency tend to be seaside towns, or areas affected by the decline of a particular industry – and in the North East, there is often an especially-challenging combination of both these factors.

“A higher personal insolvency rate is a symptom of wider deprivation, and highlights the need for debt advice services to be targeted and tailored for people living in less affluent areas.

“Ensuring that people in problem debt are aware of their options, and that they can access a suitable form of personal insolvency if that is the best option for them, should be a priority for the Government.

“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, and choosing to access advice at the earliest possible opportunity can make a big different to someone’s chances of getting things back under control.”

Local Authorities in the North East and rates of personal insolvency in 2018/2017 

Local Authority Rate per 10,000 adult population for 2018 Rate per 10,000 adult population for 2017 % change 2017-2018
Stockton-on-Tees 39.8 28.9 37.7%
Hartlepool 38.0 23.2 63.8%
County Durham 36.4 31.3 16.3%
North Tyneside 35.6 25.0 42.4%
South Tyneside 35.2 27.7 27.1%
Middlesbrough 34.5 28.7 20.2%
Darlington 34.5 27.8 24.1%
Sunderland 32.1 28.1 14.2%
Newcastle upon Tyne 32.0 25.1 27.5%
Gateshead 30.7 26.3 16.7%
Northumberland 26.2 24.3 7.8%
Redcar and Cleveland 25.8 23.9 7.9%

 

Source: Insolvency Service/R3