More than 2,000 people across East Lancashire have applied for a debt relief order in the last 10 years.

The statistics come as it was announced last month that the £90 debt relief order fee is to be scrapped from Saturday, April 6.

The official figures have been highlighted by the National Debtline advice service, which is predicting that even more people across East Lancashire who are in financial difficulty will soon become eligible for debt relief orders, ahead of welcome changes starting this month.

A debt relief order is a way of dealing with debt that is designed for people with low incomes and few assets – and can give people who are eligible a fresh start by writing off unmanageable debts after 12 months.

National Debtline’s analysis of new figures published by the Insolvency Service shows a total of 486 people in Blackburn and Darwen have applied for a debt relief order over the last 10 years.

In Burnley, it was 487 people, in Hyndburn it was 346, while 410 people in Pendle and 367 people in Rossendale have applied for a debt relief order over the last 10 years.

The Ribble Valley had some of the lowest debt relief order rates in the country with just 13 in 2023. 

Changes announced in last month’s Spring Budget will remove the long-standing £90 fee to apply for a debt relief order from April 6 onwards.

Further changes to eligibility rules from June 28, include an increase to the maximum level of debt applicants can have from £30,000 to £50,000. 

National Debtline says that these changes will mean debt relief orders will become an option for many more people in future. 

Separate findings from the government-backed Money and Pensions Service suggest that 22 per cent of Blackburn and Darwen residents are in need of debt advice right now, which National Debtline says shows the continuing impact of the cost-of-living crisis on local families.

In Burnley this figure was 19 per cent, in Hyndburn and Pendle it was 18 per cent, and in Rossendale it was 14 per cent.

Steve Vaid, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “Millions of people are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and for many the effects have left deep financial scars. 

“With 22 per cent of Blackburn and Darwen residents in need of debt advice now, our message to anyone worried about their finances is to seek free advice from National Debtline as soon as possible.

“And with welcome changes to debt relief orders starting from this month, this option will now become available to more people who are unable to repay what they owe.”

The charity-run service is urging anyone in East Lancashire who is struggling to seek free debt advice by calling National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.

National Debtline provides free, independent debt advice over the phone and online, and is also able to register people who are eligible for a debt relief order where this is the best option for them.

The charity has further information about debt relief orders at: