Highest liquidation figures of the year recorded
We’ve recently seen a return to wintery weather and the number of businesses going into insolvency has also returned to the high numbers we saw throughout the winter months too.
The Insolvency Service have issued the official monthly corporate insolvency statistics for February 2023 and they report that the total number of business insolvencies recorded last month for England and Wales was 1,783.
As well as being 7% higher than last month’s total of 1,671, it was also 17% higher than a year ago and 33% than in pre-pandemic February 2020.
This was the 22nd consecutive month when the number of officially recorded corporate insolvencies was both over 1,000 and was also higher than the corresponding monthly figure from 12 months ago.
Of the 1,783 cases recorded last month, the majority remain Creditor Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) with 1,505 – 84% of the total number, a 1% increase from January.
It was 13% higher than a year ago and a 59% increase on February 2020.
Corporate insolvencies have increased by 160% from February 2021. This total was also 32% higher than February 2020 but this was before the pandemic and before any restrictions on creditor actions which were brought in later in that year.
The number of compulsory liquidations did reach historic lows during the previous two years but have now reached and in some cases surpassed their pre-pandemic equivalents.
This is a result of HMRC and other creditors being more aggressive in their attempts to recover owed arrears and are allowed to use means they were denied during the pandemic period.
108 administrations were recorded (up from 86 last month) which were down slightly, 1%, on February 2022 and 27% lower than the same month in 2020.
There were 12 Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) (down from 12) which were up 300% from February 2022 but 37% lower than two years ago indicating that they are still below their historic levels.
There were no receivership appointments recorded last month and there was no increase on the 42 insolvency moratoriums or the 12 companies that had their restructuring plans registered with Companies House since the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act was created in 2020.
The continuing high number of liquidations compared to the relatively low number of administrations and CVAs indicates that more directors are choosing to close their business down and write off their debts rather than looking to rebuild or restructure them.
There were 81 company insolvencies recorded in Scotland in February 2023 which was a reduction of 18 from last month.
This was still 11% higher than February 2022 but 5% lower than the same month two years ago.
The 81 total cases was made up of 57 CVLs (up three from last month); 21 compulsory liquidations (down from 53 last month) and three administrations (up from two last month).
There were no CVAs or receivership appointments recorded.
In Scotland traditionally there have been more compulsory liquidation totals than any other kind of liquidation process but CVLs remain the most numerous kind recorded.
There were nine company insolvencies in Northern Ireland in February which was down five from the 14 recorded in January 2023.
This was down 50% on the number recorded a year ago and 67% lower than the same month in 2020.
One caveat to keep in mind with Northern Ireland is that because the numbers are relatively low compared to Scotland or England & Wales that one or two cases in either direction could be the equivalent of 10% or more indicating more movement than has actually and practically occurred.
The total was comprised of six CVLs (down from nine last month); two CVAs (down from four last month) and one compulsory liquidation (no change from last month). There were no administrations or receivership appointments recorded.
The total number of company insolvencies for the whole of the UK in February 2023 is 1,873 – an increase of 79.
“Business owners have had enough and are shutting up shop before they’re forced to”
Nicky Fisher, Vice President of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body, said: “Corporate insolvency numbers are at their highest level in four years due to a rise in Creditors Voluntary Liquidations.
“Numbers for this process are higher than they were in 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019 as more and more directors are choosing to close their businesses.
“After nearly three years of lockdowns, supply chain issues, rising costs and falling revenues, many business owners have simply had enough and are shutting up shop before they are forced to.
“Trading conditions remain tough for many businesses in England and Wales and it seems like the traditional Christmas and New Year trading period didn’t give them the boost they needed to survive.
“People are still very worried about money and the economy and are reluctant to spend on anything other than the basics, while at the same time the costs of energy, fuel and wages continue to be a major concern for businesses.
“Now is the time for directors to be aware of the signs their businesses are struggling and to seek advice if they show themselves. Cash flow issues, payment delays and rising stock are all signs a business is distressed and the earlier directors seek advice, the more options they have open to address the issues they face.”
Company insolvencies are rising once again and businesses looking for help from the latest Spring Budget this week are likely to be disappointed if early speculation proves to be accurate.
The most striking thing from this and previous months figures is the number of directors exercising their agency and choosing to close their business down rather than look to change its circumstances or find a route to recovery if one is possible.
Obviously some businesses that are fundamentally sound can consider an administration or a CVA to temporarily bring them some protection while they work out the finer financial details of their comeback to profitability.
But for thousands of others, the easiest and most efficient solution is to close via a creditors voluntary liquidation which will see all unsecured debts written off and allow directors to move onto their next venture debt free.
Our free initial consultation for any business owner or director means that they can get some expert and impartial advice before deciding what course of action is the most appropriate for them and their company.
All they have to do is get in touch with us first.