Personal insolvency rate in Lewes has increased by almost 40 per cent since 2015, figures show

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The rate of personal insolvencies in Lewes has increased by almost 40 per cent over the last two years, official data has revealed.

In 2015, 13.5 adults per 10,000 were declared insolvent in Lewes, according to Insolvency Service figures.

However by 2017 that figure had risen to 18.8, an increase of 39.8 per cent.

Insolvency is when someone cannot pay their debts, and has to arrange a plan with an official body to pay off creditors. This can include being declared bankrupt.

The England and Wales average is 21.4, with Stoke, in Staffordshire, having the highest insolvency rate of 45 people per 10,000 in serious debt.

The figures are comprised of people who have been declared bankrupt, those who have been given debt relief orders (DROs), which are a form of relief for people on low incomes, and those with individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), which are a voluntary way of paying back creditors.

In Lewes there were 155 new insolvency cases in 2017, up from 133 the year before.

IVAs were the most common form of insolvency, with 96 recorded last year.

Across Britain personal debt has ballooned over the past few years, with low interest rates and payday loans contributing to the rise.

Consumer debt reached more than £200 billion by the start of the year, returning to levels last seen in the financial crisis.

In 2017 almost 100,000 new insolvency cases in England and Wales were reported.

Overall in England and Wales the insolvency rate increased for the second successive year.

The data shows women are more likely to be insolvent than men.

Young people are also struggling, with the biggest percentage of new cases among 25 to 34-year-olds.

Graham O’Malley, debt expert at Citizens Advice, said: “Unmanageable debt puts people at risk of insolvency that, in the most serious cases, can result in them losing their home.

“There’s debt advice out there - from organisations such as Citizens Advice - that people do not have to pay for.

“It’s so important people with money problems make sure they get this impartial advice before they even think about going down the insolvency route.”