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Insolvency News UK: Tough Times For SME’s


While recent reports bring a sigh of relief with inflation hitting a two-year low at 3.4%, the journey through economic turbulence is far from over. The falling inflation rates, albeit a positive sign, mask the underlying challenges many businesses face today. A stark reminder of this is the alarming rate of company insolvencies in the UK, which are at their highest in three decades.

Since the pandemic, the frequency of businesses entering insolvency has climbed by a staggering 46.7% compared to pre-pandemic figures. In 2023 alone, over 25,000 companies in the UK registered as insolvent, marking a 14% increase from the year before.

Terry Bell, Director of Bell & Company, observes, “Business owners showcase remarkable resilience. However, the harsh economic climate has led to an unfortunate surge in closures.” Consequently, at Bell & Company, we have seen an increase in clients facing personal guarantee challenges or being made bankrupt from their personal guarantee exposure. This underscores the extremes creditors will go to reclaim funds.

Below, we delve deeper into the statistical trends and benchmarks that are shaping the current business landscape. The following graph illustrates the upward trajectory of company insolvencies over the past few years, painting a picture of the challenges and pressures faced by businesses in the UK.

Q3 of 2023 proved particularly challenging for UK businesses, marking the highest insolvency rate of the year with 6,600 cases reported. This period underscored a troubling trend across sectors, most notably within the construction industry, which suffered significantly, with over 4,000 insolvencies in 2023 alone. May emerged as the peak month of distress for the construction industry. This correlates to what we are seeing at Bell & Company, with an influx of directors from this industry reaching out for assistance.

Specialised areas like electrical, plumbing, and construction installation activities witnessed over 1,000 insolvencies, accounting for more than 4% of the UK’s annual total. A major contributor to these rising figures is the shrinking labour market, which presents a daunting challenge for businesses struggling to source skilled and affordable workers.

Looking ahead, the outlook remains grim for UK businesses. A recent analysis by Allianz predicts a further 9% rise in insolvencies across the board. This report places the UK at the forefront of European economic vulnerability, with 15% of its small and medium-sized enterprises classified as fragile.

To conclude this edition of Insolvency News UK, we have observed a trend indicating that small and medium-sized businesses are disproportionately affected by the current economic climate, lacking the resilience and ready access to capital that shield larger enterprises. An EY-backed study predicts a rise in industry monopolies as these larger entities absorb the market share vacated by their smaller rivals, signalling a significant shift in the business landscape.

What Are Your Options?

If your business is feeling the strain of economic pressure or you’re concerned about the potential risks of insolvency, we’re here to help. Our team of experienced Debt Strategists can provide tailored solutions to protect your business and personal assets.

Let’s work together to secure a more stable and prosperous future for your business. Contact us today for expert advice and support tailored to your unique circumstances. Remember, taking action now can make all the difference.

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