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North of England once again sees highest personal insolvencies in England and Wales – R3 comments on 2021 statistics

North of England once again sees highest personal insolvencies in England and Wales – R3 comments on 2021 statistics

The latest breakdown of the 2021 annual personal insolvency statistics, released last week by the Insolvency Service, show that, once again, the local authorities with the highest rates of individual insolvency were mainly in the North of England, including some in Yorkshire and the Humber. In contrast, the five local authorities with the lowest insolvency rates were all in London, followed by some in the South East.

Yorkshire and the Humber once again saw above-average rates, recording the joint-second highest concentration of personal insolvencies of any region with 26.5 adults per 10,000 (representing 11,516 cases) from 26.3 the previous year (representing 11,458 cases). This is above the average level of personal insolvencies across England and Wales which was 23.3 per 10,000 in 2021. The only region which saw higher levels was the North East with 28.7, while the North West matched Yorkshire and the Humber at 26.5.

The Yorkshire and Humber region also had the two unitary authorities which reported the highest rate of personal insolvency per 10,000 adults from across England and Wales – these were North East Lincolnshire (47.1, representing 588 cases) and Kingston upon Hull (43.9, representing 884 cases).

The region also saw Calderdale with the fifth highest rate at 40.5, representing 670 cases. These levels compare with Richmond upon Thames which was the local authority with the lowest rate with just 10.0 per 10,000. Those with the lowest levels within Yorkshire and the Humber were York (15.5), and Harrogate (17.6).

Eleanor Temple, chair of R3 in Yorkshire and a barrister at Kings Chambers in Leeds, comments: “Despite recognition of the need for ‘levelling up’, it is disappointing to see the disparity between the North and the South continuing as is starkly demonstrated by rates of insolvency across the regions. The North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West once again recorded the highest concentrations of personal insolvency of any regions nationwide, while five of the London boroughs and parts of the South East again saw the lowest levels of personal insolvency.

“Higher personal insolvency rates are often a symptom of wider deprivation, so it is particularly worrying to see three of the five local authorities with the highest levels located here in our region. While the government’s support figures have to some extent masked growing poverty, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has polarised ‘winners and losers’ with many of those living in less affluent areas facing greater hardship.”

Ms Temple continues: “Given the current sharp increase in the cost of living which will be worsened by further energy price rises, it is more important than ever that debt advice services are available to ensure that people are aware of the best insolvency options for them.”

While the total insolvency rate across the UK decreased for the second consecutive year, this is likely to have been partly driven by enhanced government financial support measures put in place to support people during Covid-19. Before the pandemic, rates of individual insolvency had been trending upwards between 2015 and 2019 with a rate increase of 49% over this period. This was followed by a decline of 9% in 2020 and a further decline of 1% in 2021.