Areas with highest personal insolvency rates revealed
Vale of Clwyd, Stoke-on-Trent North and Torbay were the parliamentary constituencies with the highest personal insolvency rates across England and Wales last year, according to official figures.
Coastal areas featured strongly among the areas with the highest personal insolvency rates, while many areas of London were among the constituencies with the lowest rates, the Insolvency Service's figures showed.
Continuing a trend seen in 2013, Vale of Clwyd had the highest personal insolvency rate in 2014, with a rate of 48.6 cases per 10,000 members of the adult population.%VIRTUAL-ArticleSidebar-bankruptcy%
In second place, Stoke-on-Trent North had 44.2 personal insolvency cases per 10,000 adults, while Torbay was placed third, with 43.8 cases per 10,000 adults recorded in 2014.
Several constituencies in coastal areas appeared on the list of those with the highest personal insolvency rates, with Plymouth, Moor View and Scarborough and Whitby also in the top 10.
At the other end of the spectrum, Battersea and Harrow East had the lowest personal insolvency rates in 2014, with 7.2 cases per 10,000 members of the adult population in both of these constituencies.
Chelsea and Fulham, Hampstead and Kilburn, Wimbledon and Richmond Park were also among the constituencies with the lowest personal insolvency rates.
Three types of personal insolvency are included in the figures - bankruptcies, debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs).
Bankruptcies tend to be seen as the last resort option. DROs, which are often dubbed "bankruptcy light", are available to people with relatively low levels of debt but no realistic prospect of paying it off.
The maximum limit for DRO debts increased from £15,000 to £20,000 in October, enabling more people to consider this an option as an alternative to bankruptcy.
IVAs are agreements to pay creditors back some or all of what they are owed.
Paul Atkinson, a partner at restructuring and advisory firm FRP Advisory, said the figures reflect "a twin-track economy of a booming capital and South East and under-invested towns in coastal areas where the demise of traditional tourism, fishing and agriculture-related business have still to be replaced".
He said: "The extension of high speed internet to rural areas to help foster entrepreneurial growth cannot come fast enough. Stoke-on-Trent has been particularly hard hit by the decline in manufacturing and business investment has moved out to larger cities further afield either side of the M6 from Birmingham south or Manchester further north."
Looking just at bankruptcies, the Insolvency Service said that Wythenshawe and Sale East had the highest bankruptcy rate in 2014, with 10.3 cases per 10,000 adults, followed by Torbay, which had 9.8 cases per 10,000 adults.
Blackpool South and Blackpool North and Cleveleys were both among the top 10 constituencies with the highest bankruptcy rates.
The constituency of Chesham and Amersham had the lowest bankruptcy rate, with 1.8 cases per 10,000 adults.
Overall, the rate of personal insolvencies across England and Wales fell in 2014, to 21.8 cases per 10,000 adults, from a rate of 22.4 in 2013. Rock bottom interest rates have been helping people to keep their debts under control.
Jonathan Westley, managing director of Experian's UK and Ireland consumer information services, said: "People who have experienced insolvency should remember it's not the end of the road and they can work to build a positive credit history.
"The sooner people begin the road to recovery, and take back control of their finances, the easier the process will be.
"It's vital people seek help if they are struggling, and organisations like StepChange and the Citizens Advice Bureau are always ready to provide expert advice and support to anyone in need."