The south-west has the highest rate of bankruptcy in England and Wales, new data has indicated.
Figures for 2009 obtained from the UK insolvency Service by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) revealed four counties out of the top seven for this form of insolvency were in the region.
Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly came top at 24 people per 10,000, with Devon fourth on 23.4 per 10,000, Dorset sixth at 21.9 per 10,000 and Somerset seventh at 21.8 per 10,000.
Furthermore, it was revealed that Dorset saw the largest number of bankruptcies in the decade to 2009, with Gloucestershire and Somerset also in the top ten.
Commenting on the situation, CCCS director of external affairs Delroy Corinaldi said: "While all parts of the country have experienced high rates of bankruptcy over the past decade, this trend is particularly marked in the West Country. This is likely to result from a mix of factors such as high debt levels and less job opportunities than you would find in large urban areas."
While bankruptcy advice may be useful for those in deep difficulty, IVA help may also be an option as a means of tackling unpayable debt – offering the possibility of a deal that can be kept confidential, whereas bankruptcy can be reported in the local press.
Much of the south-west suffers from low incomes and the region has been identified as suffering some of the worst fuel poverty rates in the UK, Department for Energy and Climate Change figures for 2009 recently revealed.
These showed that three of the seven districts with over 30 per cent fuel poverty rates that year were in the region.
By Joe White