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Bankruptcy rates in the north-east hit the highest levels in the UK in the first part of this year, according to figures released by the marketing analyst firm KPMG.

The number of people being declared bankrupt in the region grew by 34 per cent between January and March this year.

Nationally, bankruptcy rates rose by 11 per cent over this period in comparison to the previous quarter, with individuals petitioning for their bankruptcy rather than being forced into it by creditors rising from 544 cases in the last quarter of 2007 to 731 cases in the first quarter of 2008.

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."

David Kuo, head of personal finance for the Motley Fool, has urged consumers to take into account their current fiscal situation and to re-evaluate their lifestyle choices in what is a financially testing period for everyone in the UK.

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