The rate of home repossessions in England is far higher in the north than the south, according to a study by chartered surveyors.
It reflects the imbalanced nature of the UK economy towards London and the south east. And it is despite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting the UK to grow by 2.9% during 2014 in the best recovery of any Western economy.
The research, compiled from Ministry of Justice and e.surv chartered accountants data, shows there were 44% more repossessions in the north than south in 2013.
Moreover, eight in ten northern towns had a higher repossession rate – calculated from the number of homes repossessed per thousand – than the England and Wales average of 4.7.
"The north is still home to the largest wedge of repossessions, despite improvements in household finances across the country," said Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors.
"Both the north west and the north east are still paying the price of recession-driven public sector job cuts – which stimulated a glut of local repossessions.
"The whole country is now in recovery, but the north has the furthest to go to catch up, and is comparatively lagging behind."
The worst town for repossessions was Oldham, with a rate of 8.6 and a total of 747 in 2013. In second place was Romford in greater London, with a rate of 7.8 and a total of 754.
East-central London had the best rate of all areas, at 1 – a 46% fall on the previous year.
The broader picture for England and Wales is positive as the squeeze on household finances eases. Wages are rising more quickly and price inflation has fallen, leaving people better off than in the recent past.
This has helped the repossession rate to start falling in all regions of the two nations. As a result, the headline average for England and Wales fell by 11% to 4.7 over the year in 2013.