The latest corporate insolvency data has been issued by The Insolvency Service for December and while the headline rate will show a decrease, the numbers are still large enough to underline some significant trends that are expected to continue into 2024. 

December’s official figures for business insolvencies in England and Wales saw 2,002 which was 19% lower than the previous month of 2,466.  This was the highest total not only of 2023 but also the highest individual monthly total since 2009. 

December’s total was 2% higher than in December 2022 as well as being higher than the corresponding months in 2021, 2020 and pre-covid 2019 too. This was also the third consecutive month when overall corporate insolvencies were over 2,000. 


Creditors voluntary liquidations (CVLs) remain the most frequent type of business insolvency in December with 1,731.

This was a reduction of 231 from November but a 5% increase for the same month a year ago. CVLs made up 75% of all corporate insolvencies last month, down from 80% in November.

There were 153 compulsory liquidations in December which was a decrease of 210 and an 18% reduction in December 2022. This ends a run of six consecutive months when the monthly compulsory liquidation figure was over 200 and higher than the corresponding month from a year before. 

HMRC and other creditors are still more active in their attempts to recover outstanding debts by using winding up petitions and statutory demands to enforce payment but December is effectively only three working weeks compared to other months so a reduction was expected. 

There were 103 administrations in December which was a reduction of 30 from November’s total and an annual decrease 8% from December 2022. 

With less working days in December than any other month of the year, a monthly reduction was anticipated.

There were 15 company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) last month. This was up three from the previous month and a 50% increase on the figure recorded in December 2022.

There were no receivership appointments recorded last month and two additional insolvency moratoriums recorded by Companies House which takes the total since June 2020 to 49. 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 108 company insolvencies recorded. This was a reduction of one from November and a 5% reduction on the total from December 2022.

This was comprised of 65 CVLs (down from 74); 40 compulsory liquidations (up from 30) and three administrations (down from five). There were no CVAs (no change) or receiverships recorded.

Scotland has traditionally always seen higher numbers of compulsory liquidations than any other kind of insolvency process but since being overtaken by CVLs at the beginning of 2020, 2023 saw CVL numbers one and a half times higher than compulsory liquidations.  

Northern Ireland

There were 25 company insolvencies recorded in Northern Ireland in December, down one from the 26 recorded last month but 67% higher than the corresponding monthly total from a year ago. 

This was made up of 17 CVLs (up 11 from November); six compulsory liquidations (down seven); one administration (down four) and one CVA (down one). There were no receivership appointments in the province.

The total number of company insolvencies for the whole of the UK in December 2023 is 2,135 – a reduction of 466 from last month’s total.

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

“The monthly fall in corporate corporate insolvencies is due to a drop in Compulsory Liquidation, Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) and administration numbers. 

“The year-on-year rise in corporate insolvency levels is driven by an increase in CVL numbers and a slight increase in Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), as the volume of businesses entering the other corporate insolvency processes fell compared to last December. 

“The figures published today (Jan 16) are the highest for December in four years and reflect the final month of a difficult year for businesses in England and Wales. 

“December was tough for many firms as they faced additional expenses at a time when margins were already tight. These won’t have been helped by consumer spending slowing and rising energy costs.  

“At the end of a tough year, these extra costs could have been the final blow for many businesses and may have led to their directors turning to an insolvency process to resolve their firm’s financial issues. 

“If the New Year trading period hasn’t improved on the one before Christmas, we could see insolvency numbers continue to rise, as businesses who had banked on a festive income to cover the shortfall in their income turn to the profession for help.”

We’ll know soon enough if this is the case and while every business and sector faces different challenges – there is a general feeling of swimming uphill for business owners and directors at the beginning of 2024. 

Business rates are scheduled to rise in April along with the minimum wage, inflation still remains relatively high especially compared to recent years and interest rates remaining at their highest levels for 14 years show that there is not much sign of things settling down soon either.

This is why now is the perfect time to book a free initial consultation with one of our expert advisors – available on your schedule. 

They will work with you to help strengthen and restructure the business so it can be in the best possible shape to meet 2024 head on. Or if your goals lie in a different direction, can help advise you on the best way to close with a minimum of fuss and stress too.