The number of people in Westmorland and Furness accessing a debt relief scheme opened to provide financial support during the coronavirus pandemic has risen by a tenth last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Insolvency Service show 283 people in Westmorland and Furness registered for a standard or mental health breathing space in 2023 – up from 259 the year before.

It meant the breathing space rate was 15 per 10,000 adults in the area.

Nationally, there were 88,390 registered breathing spaces in 2023, equivalent to a rate of 18.5 per 10,000 adults.

Of these, 1,462 registered for a mental health breathing space last year – up from 1,216 in 2022.

Breathing spaces were introduced in May 2021 to help people facing financial difficulties because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 200,000 total breathing spaces have been registered since the inception of the scheme.

They have seen a national drop in the number of people formally going financially insolvent, which includes bankruptcy, debt relief orders and voluntary arrangements.

Some 103,454 personal insolvencies were recorded last year, a 13% fall compared with 2022.

Of these, 373 were in Westmorland and Furness – down from 443 in 2022.