There have been a lot of pieces of high profile economic data published recently that have got a lot of public and media attention. 

Inflation has remained at twice the Bank of England’s target rate at 4% and the bank confirmed that after two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the UK officially entered recession at the end of December. 

Right now we’re more concerned with the regular monthly corporate insolvency data issued by The Insolvency Service for January and while the headline number decreased from December, as they always do, there were some interesting increases just under the surface.

January’s official figures for business insolvencies in England and Wales saw 1,769, which was 12% lower than the previous month’s total of 2,002.

However, It was 5% higher than the same period 12 months ago and is the highest monthly total for January since before 2019. 


Creditors voluntary liquidations (CVLs) remain the most frequent type of business insolvency in January with 1,294. 

This was a reduction of 437 from December 2023 and is 6% lower than the same month a year ago. CVLs are still the most frequent insolvency process making up 73% of all corporate insolvencies last month – down from 75% in December.

There were 339 compulsory liquidations in January which is an increase of 182, more than double, and 66% increase on the total from January 2023.

This is further evidence that HMRC and other creditors are becoming more aggressive and assertive in their efforts to recover debts.  The increased usage of winding up petitions and statutory demands to enforce payment or affect closure is more proof that this is a credible and growing threat to directors and business owners.

There were 120 administrations in January which was an increase of 17 from December and an annual increase of 40% from January 2023. 

There were 16 company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) last month. This was an increase of one from the previous month and a 14% increase from the figure recorded in January 2023. 

There were no receivership appointments recorded last month and three additional insolvency moratoriums were recorded by Companies House which takes the total since June 2020 to 53, which is more than one a month. 

There were no additional business restructuring plans approved by the court with the total remaining at 22 since June 2020.


In Scotland last month there were a total of 88 company insolvencies recorded. This was a reduction of 20 from last month and a 19% reduction from January 2023. 

This total was comprised of 46 CVLs (down from 65); 34 compulsory liquidations (down from 40); seven administrations (up from three) and one CVA (up from zero). There were no receiverships recorded.

Scotland traditionally has seen higher numbers of compulsory liquidations than other insolvency processes but CVLs overtook them at the beginning of 2020 and since 2023 have been one and a half times higher than compulsory liquidations.  

Northern Ireland

There were 30 company insolvencies recorded in Northern Ireland in January, up five from last month and more than double (114%) the total from January 2023. 

This was made up of 17 CVLs (same as December); six compulsory liquidations (down two); four CVAs (up from one) and one administration (same as December). There were no receivership appointments in the province. 

The total number of company insolvencies for the whole of the UK in January is 1,887 – a reduction of 248 from last month’s total.

Nicky Fisher, President of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body said: 

“January 2024 saw the highest corporate insolvency figures for that month in four years. 

“Both compulsory liquidation and CVL levels were higher than in January 2019, which suggests that both creditor pressure and director fatigue are still above pre-pandemic levels.

“Levels of corporate insolvency were lower than in December due to a fall in the number of CVLs but compulsory liquidations returned to their second highest level in four years. Creditors are clearly proactively pursuing the debts they are owed as we go into the final quarter of the financial year, and they look to balance their own books and pay their own debts.

“January was the sting in the tail of a hard year for businesses. The post-Christmas boost many were hoping for didn’t happen as people remained conscious of the costs of food, fuel and energy, and held back on spending anything that wasn’t essential, while running costs for businesses remained high and margins remained thin. 

“As a result, many firms who were struggling missed out on the lifeline or windfall they were hoping for from the Christmas trading period, and if the business climate doesn’t improve and the recession takes root, we may see corporate insolvency numbers increase further in future.”

We hope that this isn’t the case but with business rates scheduled to rise in April along with the minimum wage, inflation still double the Bank of England’s target of 2% and interest rates remaining at their highest level for 14 years – things might get worse before they get better for millions of businesses.

This is why it’s the perfect time to act now and book a free initial consultation with one of our team at a convenient time for you.

Once they get a clearer picture of your strengths and current threats, they’ll be able to help you create a plan to best achieve your business goals no matter what they are – but only if you take the first step and get in touch while you still have the time to act.