WINCHESTER’S personal insolvency rate is the lowest in the county according to a new report.

New figures released by the Insolvency Service show the number of personal insolvencies has fallen from 16 to 13.9, per 10,000 adults, over the last 12 months.

The figure reflects the city’s continual trend in recent years. The numbers hit a record high in 2009, at 24 per 10,000 adults, but has dropped steadily ever since.

Andrew Watling, chairman of the Southern Committee of R3, the insolvency trade body, said while it’s good news less people are entering insolvency, the figures could be masking a deeper issue.

He said: “While it’s welcome that official personal insolvencies continue to fall, it’s important to remember that these statistics do not tell the full story. The big issue is that debt management plans are not tracked by the Government. We know thousands of people use plans like these, but we don’t know what the exact extent of their use.

“Often people end up in debt management plans because they struggle to access a formal insolvency option, which might be better suited for their situation. We warned earlier this year that some people are so cash-strapped they can’t afford the £700 it costs to declare themselves bankrupt. Our research shows 70 per cent of personal insolvency practitioners have seen this happen.”

The South East’s figures have also dropped, from 21 per 10,000 adults in 2012 to 19 in 2013, putting it as the second best performing region in the country for personal insolvencies.

However other areas of Hampshire have shown an increase in the number of people facing financial hardship. The Isle of Wight proved to have one of the highest rates of insolvency on the country and the New Forest and Test Valley also showed a rise in their rates from 2012-2013.