MORE people across south and west Dorset are becoming unable to pay their debts, new figures show.

Figures released by the according to Insolvency Service show that the rate of personal insolvencies in Weymouth and Portland has increased by almost a third over the last two years with West Dorset also showing similar trends.

Weymouth and Portland had a personal insolvency rate of 28.9 people in every 10,000, a 30.8 per cent increase on 2015 when 22.1 in every 10,000 were declared insolvent.

Meanwhile, West Dorset had a rate of 26 pet 10,000, an increase of 19.9 pet cent on 2015 when the figure was 21.7 per 10,000.

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.

It means both areas are above the national average of insolvent people – that’s individuals so deep in the red they can’t pay what they owe.

They can then arrange a plan with an official body to pay off creditors which can include being declared bankrupt.

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.

Various reasons are being suggested for the hike in problem debts, including low-interest rates, payday loans and new ways of financing cars, all of which have encouraged borrowing.

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."

In Weymouth and Portland there were 155 new insolvency cases in 2017, up from 122 the year before while in West Dorset, there were 218 new insolvency cases in 2017, up from 190 the year before.

The data shows women are more likely to be insolvent than men however young people are also struggling, with the biggest percentage of new cases among 25 to 34-year-olds.

Lucinda Coleman, business recovery partner at PKF Francis Clark South West, said: "These figures are disappointing for the area and for many people, bankruptcy can't and shouldn't be avoided.

“There are however other options which should be explored beforehand. We can advise on the alternative procedures and explain the consequences of bankrupt."

Mike Pavitt, corporate restructuring and insolvency partner at Southampton based Paris Smith LLP solicitors, said that coastal towns like Weymouth suffered from the highest number of people being in debt.

He added: "The latest regional personal insolvency statistics follow a very established pattern: insolvency rates are typically highest on the coast, with six of the 10 places with the highest rate of personal insolvency by the sea. Seasonal work dries up over the winter, and when it is available, wages tend to be low.

“Anyone who is concerned about their personal financial situation should seek advice and support from a trustworthy and regulated source, as the sooner issues are addressed, the more options are available.”