Personal insolvency figures for South Lakeland and Barrow show the stark divide between affluent areas and the ‘Northern Poorhouse’, according to trade association R3.

Latest figures from the Government place South Lakeland and Eden at the top of the table in the North West for the lowest rate of personal insolvencies in 2018 – at 16.9 per 10,000 people and 14.6 per 10,000 respectively.

In comparison, Barrow had the fifth highest in the region, with a personal insolvency rate of 35.3 per 10,000.

Copeland made the top 10 for the lowest rate, with 23.2, while Allerdale (24.9) and Carlisle (25.1) came midtable.

For Paul Barber, chair of R3 – the trade association for the UK’s insolvency, restructuring, advisory, and turnaround professionals – there was a clear reason for the contrasting fortunes of neighbouring Barrow and South Lakeland.

“The figures clearly highlight the divide between the most and least affluent areas, and often they sit alongside each other – such as Barrow and South Lakeland,” he said.

“Areas with the highest insolvency rates tend to be coastal towns with seasonal employment or former industrial areas, which have been disadvantaged by changes in the economy.”

The rate for Cumbria as a whole stood at 23.3. Women accounted for 56.7 per cent of all personal insolvencies with people in the 25 to 44 age bracket the most likely to go bust, accounting for 62 per cent.

The female-male split and age group was reflect in figures for the wider North West, which saw the number of personal insolvencies rise for the third year running and reach the highest level for six years in 2018.

Almost 16,000 people in the region became insolvent – a rate of 27.9 per 10,000 population, up from 24.2 the previous year – making it the fourth highest regional insolvency rate in the UK.

And women accounted for over half (55.2 per cent) of personal insolvencies, with people in the 25-44 age group bracket worst affected.

Mr Barber said: “The North is disproportionately affected as Northern regions continue to have some of the highest insolvency rates in the country.

“The figures reflect the struggles facing economically disadvantaged groups including women and younger people. Studies have shown that women are more likely to work part-time, in lower paid jobs and tend be worse off following the breakdown of a relationship.”

Within the North West, Blackpool was the local authority area with the highest insolvency rate (43.8 per 10,000), closely followed by Burnley (40.4), Halton (39.8), and Salford (37.1) and then Barrow.

Eden and South Lakeland were placed first and second for the lowest rates, followed by Ribble Valley (18.0), Cheshire East (21.4) and Stockport (22.5).