Number of companies going bust at 30-year high, official figures show

The number of companies going bust has hit a 30-year high, according to official figures.

A total of 25,158 firms across England and Wales became insolvent last year - an increase of 14% compared with 2022, and the highest annual number since 1993.

In the final three months of 2023, the number of bankruptcies reached a peak not seen since the financial crash of the late 2000s.

It was last year that high street retailer Wilko collapsed, leading to the loss of more than 12,000 jobs.

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Businesses faced tough economic conditions as energy costs soared and inflation remained in double digits for a quarter of the year.

The high interest rates, hiked to bring down price rises, piled on pressure as borrowing became more expensive.

Average wage rises overtook the slowed pace of inflation too, further bringing costs up for employers.

Measures of consumer confidence remained low as the cost of living crisis hit domestic and commercial consumption.

Records were also broken in other forms of winding up a company.

The number of creditors' voluntary liquidations, when a company can't pay its debts, rose 9% on 2022 numbers to 20,577 - the highest since records began in 1960.

In addition, there was:

• A 44% increase in compulsory liquidations to 2,827
• A 27% rise in administrations to 1,567
• A 67% increase in company voluntary arrangements to 185
• Two receivership appointments