BLACKBURN with Darwen had the third highest record of house repossessions England and Wales in the first three months of this year, new government figures reveal.

Between January 1 and March 31 the bough saw 22 homes taken back by lenders for missed mortgage payments.

Only County Durham with 43 and Darlington with 29 had more according to Ministry of Justice statistics.

In Blackburn with Darwen there were another 44 properties where mortgage repossession cases in process.

In Hyndburn there were 17 repossessions and 49 more under way.

In Burley the figures were 13 and 34; in Pendle 10 and 56; and in Rossendale 13 and 35.

The only borough in East Lancashire with low figures was affluent Ribble Valley with three repossessions and seven more under way.

Housing and mortgage expert Ruban Selvanayagam, the author of author of the Stop Repossession Guide, said the high figures for Blackburn with Darwen and its neighbouring East Lancashire Borough's showed that deprivation and low wages were a big factor in people losing their homes.

Burnley Council leader Cllr Mark Townsend said: "This is terrible for those who lose their homes.

"It shows that many people are being pushed to the brink financially.

"It is the result of families struggling with low wages, living on benefits and zero hours contracts."

Cllr Phil Riley, deputy leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "These figures show the precariousness of many people's lives, people seeking to own a home for their families.

"It is about low wages, the risk of unemployment and the changes to the benefit system which have affected many borough residents."

Mr Selvanayagam said his analysis showed mortgage possession claims have risen by 37per cent across England and Wales compared to the same quarter of last year.

He said: “These high figures for Blackburn with Darwen, which is a repossession hotspot, and wider East Lancashire show that deprivation and low wages are big factors in people losing their homes.

"This data demonstrates the risks of falling into mortgage default never really went away.

“We often find that illness, unemployment, divorce or excessive consumer debt all come into play. The truth is that any of us could fall into such a situation.

"It’s important for borrowers to understand there are several ways to get the situation resolved.

“We always urge people to communicate regularly with their lender. Burying your head in the sand will only make matters worse."