THE number of people becoming insolvent in Worcester is falling rapidly, it has emerged.

Personal insolvency rates in the city - where people are either officially declared bankrupt or ordered to pay a third party some money back - have fallen below the national average for the first time since 2002.

Your Worcester News can also reveal that the figures have plunged 22 per cent in a year - a signal that more residents are able to manage their finances.

Worcester MP Robin Walker has hailed the figures as another sign that the city is on an upward trend, but says it is a "tragedy" that insolvencies still happen.

Newly released data shows how in the whole of 2012, 173 Worcester people became insolvent, compared to the national average of 189.

That compares to 220 for Worcester in 2011, and 297 in 2010.

The last time insolvency rates were this low was 2005, when it stood at 155 amid the economic boom.

Insolvency rates are regarded as one of the most reliable indicators of an economic strength of a city, and Worcester is now out-performing the rest of the UK.

The data for 2013 is expected to show the same trend.

Mr Walker said: "Clearly any personal insolvency is a tragedy and I would like to see a much lower number, however it is welcome news to see the rate falling and to see Worcester doing better.

"Worcester now has a better and lower rate of personal insolvencies than the average for all English and Welsh parliamentary constituencies and the rate of improvement has been striking.

"This is a real sign of recovery after a long period in which rates were increased."

Across the rest of the UK personal insolvency rates fell eight per cent from 2011 to 2012.

The data is from the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, a body dedicated to helping people who work for themselves get financial help.

It has welcomed the fall, but urged caution over the findings, saying people are still finding it tough.

Giles Frampton, from the body, said: "The insolvency profession simply hasn’t seen anything like the fallout from the last recession - the statistics have been all over the place and have not reflected the levels of personal debt our members are witnessing first-hand."