PEOPLE in the North-East are more concerned than ever about money, according to a charity survey.

The Samaritans’ annual 'worries' survey revealed 62 per cent of respondents put money and debt high on their list of concerns, compared to 49 per cent a year ago.

Fears over job security were also up compared to a year ago, while health worries were low against the national average, the survey showed.

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A higher number of people in the North East, who had problems in 2012, would have a social drink to deal with their problems - 38 per cent - than in any other region in the country.

The national average is only 26 per cent.

On the other hand, fewer people would turn to prescribed medication than anywhere else - two per cent - compared with the national average of 11 per cent.

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said: “It’s clear that financial concerns are being felt far more acutely this year by people in the North-East, despite seeing a drop in the national average.

“As the nation’s listening ear, we’d like to remind people struggling to cope, that our branches across the region, and the rest of the country, will continue to be there for anybody who needs someone to listen to them.”

Liz McAllister, director of the Darlington and District Branch of Samaritans, added: “Many more people responded positively to our Blue Santa publicity campaign in Darlington than at the same time last year, with several saying ‘I may be ringing you’.”

The Darlington branch can be contacted on 01325-465465, while the national helpline number is 08457-909-090.