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Statistics suggest that there has been a 77 per cent increase in the number of people filing for bankruptcy in Sunderland.

According to accounting company KPMG, there were 172 debtor bankruptcies recorded in the first three months of this year, up from 97 logged between October and December of 2007.

Wearside also saw the highest jump of any area in the north-east, while Newcastle had the second highest figures, with a 31 per cent increase recorded.

Paul Bateman, KPMG’s head of personal insolvency in the north of England, said: "Consumers are seeing the cost of their mortgages increase, fuel costs continue to go up and now food prices are rising in a manner not seen for years."

He added that for those struggling with debt, seeking professional advice should be the first port of call, the Sunderland Echo reports.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times has noted that recent statistics have suggested that a growing number of people are turning to individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) via online portals.

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