Ipswich among the areas worst affected by personal insolvency during 2016, figures from R3 show

There were 34.8 personal insolvencies per 10,000 adults in the Ipswich borough last year.
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There were 34.8 personal insolvencies per 10,000 adults in the Ipswich borough last year. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Ipswich had one of the highest personal insolvency rates in England and Wales last year, according to newly compiled figures.

The borough ranks ninth in a table produced by insolvency trade body R3, with 34.8 personal insolvencies per 10,000 adults recorded during 2016.

Worst affected in the East of England, and in fifth place nationally, is Great Yarmouth, on 38.1. Topping the table is Torbay in Devon, on 43.0, closely followed by Stoke-on-Trent on 42.5 and, in joint third place, Scarborough and the Isle of Wight on 38.2.

Completing the top 10 worst affected local authority areas along with Ipswich are Corby, 36.1, Kingston-upon-Hull, 35.8, Plymouth, 35.0, and Blackpool, 34.6.

In contrast, the table of areas with the lowest personal insolvency rates last year is dominated by Greater London and the South East, with the City of London having the lowest rate of all, at just 6.1 per 10,000 people.

It is followed by Harrow on 8.3, Wandsworth on 8.5, Kingston-upon-Thames and Wokingham, both on 8.6, Westminster on 8.8, Camden on 9.0, Kensington and Chelsea on 9.2 and St Albans and Epsom & Ewell, both on 9.3.

Mark Sands, chairman of R3’s personal insolvency committee, said the latest figures “follow a very established pattern” of seaside communities being particularly badly affected.

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He said: “Insolvency rates are typically highest on the coast, in places where major industries have declined, and in the North East, where these two factors are often combined.

“The regional contrasts between places like the South East and elsewhere are sharp. Coastal towns often have lower wages and higher levels of unemployment.

“The dominance of the tourist trade means available jobs are often low paid, part-time, or seasonal. This makes personal finances vulnerable to short-term shocks.”

The general pattern of coastal communities being relatively hard hit is reflected in parts of Suffolk and north Essex, although there are also some exceptions.

In Suffolk, Waveney is in second place behind Ipswich, on 29.8, but Suffolk Coastal fares better, on 17.1.

Also above the national average of 19.7 insolvencies per 10,000 adults are Forest Heath on 25.6, St Edmundsbury on 23.2 and Babergh on 21.7, in contrast with Mid Suffolk which is the county’s least affected district, on 16.7.

In north and mid Essex, Tendring is worst affected, on 25.1, followed by Colchester on 21.8 and Braintree on 19.8. Less badly affected as Maldon on 16.3, Uttlesford on 13.2 and Chelmsford on 12.5.

The figures, compiled by R3 from data recorded by the Insolvency Service, also show that, across England and Wales, there were 20.6 insolvencies per 10,000 women last year compared with 18.7 insolvencies per 10,000 men. The overall average for all adults was 19.7 insolvencies per 10,000.

Mark Sands of R3 said: “The gap in insolvencies between men and women is becoming entrenched, with women consistently more likely than men to enter an insolvency procedure.”

However, he said the figures did not demonstrate that women were profligate compared with men, with the insolvency procedure most often associated with consumer spending – an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVAs) – being used by men and women to roughly the same degree.

“The big differences come when you look at Debt Relief Orders (DROs) and bankruptcies,” he said. “Women are much more likely than men to use a DRO, which is designed to help people with assets under £1,000 unable to pay even low value debts. It’s very easy to ‘over-spend’ if you don’t have much money available to you in the first place.”

And he added: “Men, on the other hand, are more likely than women to be affected by bankruptcy, the least common type of insolvency procedure. Bankruptcies can be used to deal with larger value assets or debts, and Insolvency Service statistics link them to events like an individual’s company failing or the loss of their job.

“Given men are more likely to own their own business or be in full-time employment, it’s not a surprise that men use bankruptcy more.