ADVICE centres in Twickenham have seen a worrying number of people seeking answers to their money troubles.
Figures from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) reveal that 1,200 Twickenham residents contacted the service for help with debts averaging £28,000 and an average monthly shortfall of more than £50.
The service advised 15 per cent of those - more than 100 - to declare bankruptcy.
Twickenham MP Vince Cable said he was concerned by the figures. "These figures suggest that our residents have bigger debts and bigger deficits than the UK average," he said. "Debt is a very serious problem and I encounter more and more constituents in my advice surgery who are struggling to keep up with payments. The debt is a legacy of the boom years and will get worse if interest rates rise."
The average debt of those contacting the CCCS nationally was £23,127, with an average monthly shortfall of £16.
Almost half of the Twickenham residents who contacted the service were aged 40 to 59.
Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) reported similar findings when comparing the second quarter of this year to last, with a 14.3 per cent increase in housing association tenants struggling with rent arrears and 19.3 per cent battling fuel debts.
The borough's advice centres saw the number of people coming to them with debt relief orders - where the Insolvency Service writes off debts - combined with bankruptcy, leap from 64 to 90 over the same period.
Richmond CAB service development manager Carol O'Donnell said the figures were worrying, but urged anyone in trouble to visit her service advisers.
She said: "Most people do have options, even if they might think they don't. We can help them to stay calm, look through their options and find a way out, or if we can't we can refer them to someone who can. It can be an upsetting, stressful time but there's help out there."