SCARBOROUGH is facing a debt crisis with more and more people struggling to make ends meet, new figures reveal.
The town is one of the worst-hit areas in the country for individual insolvencies, with 449 new cases throughout 2011.
This equates to 50 cases per 10,000 adults, with the national average standing at just 27 cases per 10,000 people.
Debt specialist Victoria Bayes, of Scarborough’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau, said the situation in Scarborough was “dire”.
She explained: “Many people are losing their employment, having their hours reduced or struggling to get back into work.
“This has been happening while the cost of rent, petrol, bills and food has been going up.
“There is also the seasonal aspect in Scarborough, which can make things difficult.”
Mrs Bayes believes that official figures for personal insolvencies and bankruptcies are also on the up because people are more prepared to come forward and seek help.
She said: “The psychology of debt has changed. The taboo in coming forward has gone a little bit, so people are more aware of the options available.
“Asking for help does not have the same shame attache as it used to.”
In addition to the rising cost of living, many people in Scarborough could soon see their benefits cut.
Mrs Bayes explained that Local Housing Allowance rates for single people aged 25 to 35 are set to be slashed, from a maximum of £80 to £53.
She said: “This is a poor situation. I understand cuts need to be made, but this will scupper many people’s efforts, especially those on a low income.”
With the situation set to get even tougher, people who find themselves in financial difficulty are being encouraged to seek help soon rather than later.
Mrs Bayes said: “I would encourage people to come in and talk to us. Sometimes we find that people are entitled to benefits they didn’t even know about. There are lots of things that can be done that make a big difference.”
Scarborough Citizen’s Advice Bureau is based at 4 Elders Street. Or call (01723) 368710. Information and advice is provided free of charge.