AFFLUENT areas of North Yorkshire are now amongst those struggling with debt, according to a charity.

Figures released by the debt charity StepChange for the first nine months of 2012 show the average person contacting it for advice in Harrogate owes £19,300 in unsecured debts such as credit cards and loans.

It is thought the situation has arisen as high earning households had easy access to credit during easier economic times but are now finding their incomes squeezed and repayments difficult.

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The figures from StepChange are studied by postcode and highlight how debt is higher in more affluent areas.

In the postcodes covering high-earning areas of Huddersfield the average debt was £28,300. In less affluent Bramley area of Leeds the average debt was £12,200.

The charity warns the situation could get much worse if interest rates increase.

Almost one in ten households in the country has defaulted on a loan, bill or housing cost according to consumer group Which?

It found one in four people are feeling financially squeezed, equating to 10.2 million households.

It is calling on the Government to ensure energy and food costs are kept under control.

Reduced house, rising fuel, energy and food prices, cuts in tax credits, low wage growth and poor savings returns are some of the factors to contribute to the economic squeeze on families.