Levels of personal insolvency in Yorkshire have dramatically risen over the past decade, shock figures have revealed, as experts warned 2011 would be a tough year.
The latest figures show there were 3,033 new cases of personal bankruptcy in 2000 across the region but by 2009 the number of new cases had rocketed to 13,312.
Last night experts warned the year ahead could also be very tough as people grapple with rising prices and public sector job losses.
The chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, Joanna Elson, said: "The financial difficulties of the last few years have accelerated a longer term trend of more and more people struggling with debt.
"Debt advice charities like ours have had to bring about a step change in our capacity, not just to help people out of their immediate debt problems, but also to help them back into financial health and ensure they have the knowledge to avoid debt problems in the future.
"With potential rises in both unemployment and the cost of credit, 2011 could be a very difficult year for people struggling with debt.
"It is vital that anyone grappling with debt problems is able to make informed decisions and understand all of their options; the best way to do that is to seek advice from independent experts. However, our research shows that just one in six people with a debt problem seek advice – a statistic we hope to change this year."
The figures from the Insolvency Service show a different picture across the region. In York there were 84 new cases of people declaring themselves bankrupt in 2000, in comparison with 418 new cases in 2009. In Leeds, over the same period, there were 375 new cases in 2000, in comparison with 1,563 in 2009.
In Sheffield there were 296 new cases in 2000 but by 2009 this had risen to 1,132. In Hull, over the same period figures have risen from 257 to 1,063.
Teresa Perchard, Citizens Advice director of policy, said: "Money troubles don't go away by themselves, as the shocking increase in the number of people seeking bankruptcy shows.
"Post-Christmas is a stressful time for many people who are struggling with their debts. Citizens Advice Bureaux are seeing more and more people every year who have trouble making ends meet and covering the most essential household bills."
Nationally figures show a huge increase in bankruptcy across England. In 2000 there were 23,861 new cases, but by 2009 this had increased to 124,044.
Earlier this week the Insolvency Service said national figures showed that in 2010, there had been a slight drop in the number of people entering into formal insolvency procedures, but said numbers remained relatively high, showing more needs to be done to encourage people to manage their money better.
It found Britain's pensioners are the fastest growing group of bankrupt people. Although levels of bankruptcy among men and women aged over-65 are the lowest in the UK, the numbers of bankrupt individuals in this age group have increased six times in a decade.
The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, said the average debt for a client over the age of 55 is 25,826 compared to 24,274 for its clients overall.
The chief executive of the Insolvency Service, Stephen Speed, said: "Although personal insolvency levels are no longer rising, they remain stubbornly high, reflecting the high levels of personal debt across the country.
"Prevention is much better than cure as far as personal finances are concerned. Review your personal finances frequently and make sure you are not taking on debt that you can't afford to repay."
SHARP DROP IN FAILED BUSINESSES
A BUSINESS recovery firm announced a sharp drop in corporate failures last night but warned companies were not out of the woods as public sector cuts start to bite.
PwC said 15,894 firms became insolvent in 2010, a fall of 18.5 per cent on the 19,512 figure recorded the previous year after economic conditions improved and more businesses were able to pursue options other than insolvency.