There were 6,208 seasonally adjusted corporate insolvencies in Q3 2023, a fall of 1.8% compared to Q2 2023’s figures of 6,319 and a 10.2% increase compared to Q3 2022 (5,635).
Q3 2023’s figures were also 54.8% higher than Q3 2021’s figure of 4,010 and 41.3% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (4,393).
There were 24,418 seasonally adjusted personal insolvencies in Q3 2023, a fall of 5.9% compared to Q2 2023’s figures of 25,957 and a 15.4% decrease compared to Q3 2022 (28,878).
Q3 2023’s figures were also 12.6% lower than Q3 2021’s figure of 27,923 and 23.8% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (32,025).
Eleanor Temple, chair of the UK’s insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 in Yorkshire and a barrister at Kings Chambers in Leeds, comments on the publication of the Q3 2023 personal and corporate insolvency statistics for England and Wales:
“A perfect storm of economic issues has led to the highest Q3 corporate insolvency figures in more than two decades. A combination of rising costs, director fatigue and increased creditor pressure mean more firms are turning to a corporate insolvency process to resolve their financial issues.
“The key driver of the numbers is the rise in CVLs, which have reached their second highest figure on record and the highest number ever recorded in Q3. After years of battling through the pandemic, supply chain issues, increasing costs, rising inflation and requests for higher wages, many directors have simply had enough and are calling it a day while that choice is still theirs.
“Compulsory liquidation numbers have reached a four year high – partly because of legislation preventing them and then making the winding-up petition threshold higher in the aftermath of the pandemic, but also because these firms are now under their own pressures, and are calling in debts in the hope of balancing their own books.
“Trading conditions are tough right now. People are worried about money and reluctant to spend on anything other than the basics – and even then, are looking for the best deal possible – while costs are rising and the economy remains turbulent.
“The Christmas period is a crucial time for a large number of firms – and this year could be make or break for many, especially those in retail and hospitality. It remains to be seen whether this year’s Christmas trading period will be the shot in the arm or the final blow for those that are struggling, and we may see a surge in insolvencies in the New Year if it’s the latter.
“Turning to personal insolvencies, while numbers are lower than this time last year, the year before and pre-pandemic, this is likely to be because of the rules for IVA marketing changing and firms catching up with these changes. IVAs have historically been the largest personal insolvency process, and changes to the way they are marketed will affect their volumes as well as the overall total for personal insolvencies.
“Bankruptcy numbers are higher than this time last year, but well below pre-pandemic levels, while Debt Relief Order (DRO) numbers are at their highest for more than a decade. It’s likely that this is because of the increase in the DRO threshold, and suggests that the cost of living crisis is resulting in more people turning to these processes for help managing their debts.
“Finances remain a major concern for many people right now. The costs of food, fuel and energy, the health of the economy, and job security are key areas of worry, and mean people are scrutinising every penny – even when it comes to paying for the essential. We expect this to continue as the weather gets colder and Christmas approaches.
“Our message to anyone who is worried about their personal or business finances is to seek advice as soon possible – as soon as you become concerned. It’s such a hard conversation to have, but being brave and speaking to a qualified advisor when your worries are new or in their early stages will give you more potential options for resolving them than if you’d waited until the problem had worsened, as well as more time to take a decision about your next step.
“Most R3 members will give a free consultation to prospective clients so they can learn more about their situation and outline the potential options for resolving it.”