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New figures from the government’s Insolvency Service have revealed the changing map of personal finances in the North West.

An analysis of the figures by the UK insolvency trade body R3 shows that, as the total number of personal insolvencies in the region has fallen over the past five years, the areas with the highest insolvency rates have changed. In some cases, those in the top 10 are not traditionally regarded as areas of low income.

While Blackpool remains in number one position, reflecting the continuing economic problems facing many seaside towns, the top ten list now consists of mainly new entrants including Preston (joint 2), Sefton (4), St Helens (5), Cheshire West and Chester (6), Tameside (8), Copeland (9) and Rossendale (10).

Wirral – often considered one of the more wealthy areas of the region – has moved into joint second place (up from 9 five years ago), while Halton comes in at number 7, down from the number 2 position five years ago. The figures refer to personal insolvencies during 2015.

Chorley, South Ribble, Warrington, Knowsley, Blackburn and Liverpool – which were amongst the areas with the highest rates of personal insolvency in 2010 – have dropped out of the top 10 altogether. Some of these areas have seen dramatic reductions in the number of insolvencies.

The personal insolvency figures include bankruptcies, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and Debt Relief Orders (DROs).

Richard Wolff, North West Chair of R3 and Head of Corporate Recovery and Insolvency at law firm JMW, said: “Overall personal insolvencies in the North West reached their peak in 2010 and the number has declined in every single area in the region since then. The problem with the new areas that feature in the top 10 list is that the number of insolvencies has not been falling quite as fast as it has elsewhere.

“It could be that these areas were slower to feel the effects of the recession. Perhaps some families had a greater financial cushion and were able to hold out for longer or their debt problems took longer to come to the fore. In some cases, personal insolvencies resulted from the knock-on effect of job losses or a business failure so economic shocks can have a delayed impact.

“Another, albeit more minor factor, changes in the insolvency regime and legislation, in particular, the introduction of Debt Relief Orders which are designed to help people with smaller amounts of debt and which have proved popular in some areas such as Preston.

“Each of the different insolvency procedures is designed for different financial circumstances and there is a slightly different pattern in each area. However, the insolvency processes available are there to help people to address their debt problems and it is clearly positive that those who are struggling financially can seek a resolution and try to get on with their lives.”

2015: Top 10 areas in North West for insolvencies

  1. Blackpool
  2. Preston
  3. Wirral
  4. Sefton
  5. St Helens
  6. Cheshire W & Chester
  7. Halton
  8. Tameside
  9. Copeland
  10. Rossendale

North West average                   20.4

2010: Top 10 areas in North West for insolvencies

  1. Blackpool
  2. Halton
  3. Chorley
  4. South Ribble
  5. Warrington
  6. Knowsley
  7. Burnley
  8. Blackburn
  9. Wirral
  10. Liverpool

North West average                    31.5

Figures show a number of insolvencies per 10,000 people