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The number of homes repossessed increased by 68 per cent last year, highlighting the need for debt management advice, it has been revealed.

New statistics from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) show 46,750 properties were repossessed during the course of 2008, with 68,000 people in arrears in the final quarter alone.

The figures mark a stark increase on those from 2007, when 27,900 properties were repossessed.

Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the Building Societies Association, says that "every repossession represents an individual tragedy", emphasising the need for advice to be sought before it is too late.

Additional statistics from the FSA show the number of mortgages in arrears at the end of 2008 was 31 per cent higher than it was a year earlier.

These figures demonstrate a worse situation than those released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders in recent weeks, which suggested there were 40,000 repossessions during the year.

Furthermore, it revealed that one in 64 mortgages were in arrears of 2.5 per cent or more throughout the course of last year.

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