It goes without saying that 2020 was a year like no other for businesses in all sectors, with the coronavirus pandemic rocking every industry from hospitality and travel to retail and beyond.

But which sectors have been hardest hit by the pandemic when it comes to filing for insolvency? There were 12,559 company insolvencies in 2020, which is actually 37% fewer than in 2019 (likely due to the extensive business support rolled out by the government), but we’ve taken a look to see which experienced the most insolvencies and which had the highest rates per 1,000 active businesses.

The industries with the most insolvencies in 2020

The industries with the least insolvencies in 2020

The industries that have seen the biggest increase in insolvencies

Looking at how the insolvency rate from 2016 compares to that in 2020, we can see that in the majority of sectors, the number of insolvencies has actually declined.

However, there were five sectors that saw an increase, the most notable of which was arts, entertainment and recreation, which saw the rate of insolvencies jump from 3.5 per 1,000 businesses in 2016 to 4.2 in 2020, an increase of 18%.

Other service activities saw an increase of 6.1%, with the insolvency rate for accommodation and food service activities increasing by 2.1%.

The industries that have seen the biggest decrease in insolvencies

However, in the majority of cases, insolvencies in the UK have actually declined since 2016. Perhaps most notably, the industry which saw its insolvency rate fall the most was mining and quarrying, where the rate has dropped by two-thirds, from 43.2 per 1,000 businesses in 2016 to 14.3 in 2020, but this was also the industry that actually had the highest insolvency rate in 2020.

Administrative and support service activities (which includes things like rental and leasing activities, travel agencies and security services) also saw a significant drop (-60.4%) as did water supply (-45.4%).

Insolvency Rates by Industry

Insolvencies Active businesses Insolvencies per 10,000 businesses Five year change

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Methodology

The number of company insolvencies for each industry in 2020 were sourced from the latest company insolvency statistics from the Insolvency Service which are sourced from Companies House and exclude creditors' voluntary liquidations following administration but include "bulk CVLs".

The number of active businesses for each industry in 2020 were sourced from the Office for National Statistics’ UK business: activity, size and location dataset and shows the number of VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises in each industry.