More than a third of people in the South are concerned about their current level of debt, but only one per cent of people surveyed say they are likely to seek debt advice in the next six months.
The researcg also reveals that only five per cent of Southerners have ever sought debt advice in the past.
Nick Keitley of R3, the trade body for insolvency professionals, said: “This snapshot uncovers the huge unwillingness to take debt advice.
“This is frustrating as we know the experience of those who seek proper advice is invariably positive. While there is some confusion about where to seek clear advice, for a large proportion of the population, there seems to be a ‘head in the sand’ approach or maybe it is the stigma of bankruptcy.”
The snapshot indicates that nearly a quarter do not think it is clear where to go for good, impartial debt advice, yet 37 per cent of those who had taken debt advice wish they had done so sooner.
This is set against a backdrop of record personal insolvencies for 2011, with a third of people thinking that their financial situation will worsen rather than improve in the next six months. However, only 17 per cent say they have no savings at all at the moment.
Of greater concern are a group of over two million adults who say they are currently in a debt management plan, much higher than estimates from previous years.
Mr Keitley added: “We simply don’t know how many individuals are in a debt management plan – no-one is counting them. To have some idea of the levels of debt in this country we should know.
“My concern is that people are clearly unwilling to take debt advice anyway, so are far more likely to be pushed into a ‘product’ by those with a vested interest.
“44 per cent of people in our region who did take debt advice were not aware of the range of options they had beforehand. I would recommend taking a deep breath before choosing a debt solution and make sure you know what all the options are.”