Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DURHAM TIMES to 80360 or email us
House repossessions three times national average in North-East
HOUSE repossessions in parts of the region are running at more than three times the national average, research has shown.
Fifteen homes in every 10,000 across the UK are taken back by mortgage lenders, a study by chartered surveyors e.surv has found.
The figure for Darlington and County Durham is 60 per cent higher and representative of a gulf in regional fortunes, with Lancashire and parts of Yorkshire also among the worst-hit areas for repossessions.
In contrast, Oxfordshire saw only 12 homes in 10,000 repossessed, and numbers were also low in the Cotswolds, the West Midlands, the West Country, and the southern coast of England.
Weak economic growth and austerity are blamed for the regional divide, with people in the North being more affected by Government cuts due to dependency on public sector employment, and a larger proportion of southerners working in the private sector.
Council bosses in Darlington have described the high proportion of repossessions as a tragedy.
Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv, said: “Spending cuts, negative wage growth, falling house prices and public sector unemployment have hit the North much harder than the South.
“This has opened up a gaping geographical divide in repossession levels.”
Clusters of affluent retired people have helped some areas in the North buck the trend.
Harrogate, in North Yorkshire, which has a high proportion of affluent pensioners, had only 11 repossessions per 10,000 households, a low number despite being surrounded by more deprived postcodes.
Mr Sexton added: “Repossession levels can vary wildly within a confined geographical space thanks to local disparities in affluence and employment rates.
“However, with the North more exposed to the grind of public sector austerity and a downturn in the economy, the North-South divide could become even starker over the coming months.”
Chris McEwan, lead member for economy and regeneration on Darlington Borough Council, said: “As the recession starts to bite and cuts kick in, there will be consequences for people that are difficult to measure.
“These figures represent personal and individual tragedies and we need to do more work understanding their impact.
“This makes me and my colleagues focus our minds on how we can help people in such a terrible situation.”