Nearly 500 residents of Epping Forest have applied for a Debt Relief Order over the past 10 years.

The figure is according to new data presented by National Debtline, a free advice service.

The analysis of new data from the Insolvency Service reveals that 471 people in Epping Forest applied for the aid.

The charity is predicting that more Epping Forest residents who are in financial difficulty will soon become eligible for Debt Relief Orders, ahead of changes starting this month.

Steve Vaid, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the organisation 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.

“Whether or not you are eligible for any particular debt solution, there is always something that National Debtline advisers can do to help – so I would urge anyone struggling to get in touch straight away.”

Debt Relief Orders were established as a way of dealing with debt to assist individuals with low incomes and minimal assets.

It provides eligible applicants a fresh start by writing off unmanageable debts after a year.

From April 6, the abolition of the £90 application fee for a Debt Relief Order will come into effect.

From June 28, there will also be changes to eligibility rules, including an increase to the maximum level of debt applicants can have from £30,000 to £50,000.

National Debtline said these amendments will mean Debt Relief Orders will become an option for more people.

Additional findings according to the government-funded Money and Pensions Service suggest that ongoing cost-of-living crises have left 12 percent of Epping Forest residents in need of debt advice.

The National Debtline encourages local families dealing with financial struggles to seek their free debt advice by ringing them at 0808 808 4000.

As well as providing free, independent debt advice over the phone and online, the charity also helps eligible people register for a Debt Relief Order when it is the most fitting course of action.