Recent Insolvency Statistics (August-September)
At the risk of this blog post becoming an act of ‘doomscrolling’ (definition: ‘spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news’), let’s take a look at some recent insolvency statistics and recap what’s happening with the UK economy.
The following statistics come from The Insolvency Service, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Additional statistics have been gathered from the Office for National Statistics.
Recent Insolvency Statistics
The number of company insolvencies remains stubbornly high—more so than we’ve seen for the last three years. The number of registered company insolvencies in September 2022 was 1,679:
16% higher than in the same month in the previous year (1,453 in September 2021), and
11% higher than the number registered three years previously (pre-pandemic; 1,508 in September 2019).
There are positives and negatives to be aware of when reading these statistics as companies continue to battle against tough economic conditions. For example, compare September’s statistics with those of August, where the number of collapsed firms was 1,933:
43% higher than in the same month in the previous year (1,348 in August 2021), and
42% higher than the number registered three years previously (pre-pandemic; 1,365 in August 2019).
Total company insolvencies in England and Wales in the second quarter of 2022 (April to June) reached their highest quarterly level since Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2009, driven by Creditors' Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs).
Insolvencies decreased in 2020, when government support to businesses was in place during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; average quarterly insolvencies since Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020 are slightly lower than the 2015 to 2019 average.
The Cost of Living Crisis
These statistics need to be contextualised against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, which has seen inflation rise to a 40-year high of 10.1% in September 2022, rising from 9.9% in August. The price of everyday essentials is rising faster than average household incomes, equating to a drastic fall in real incomes.
More than 1 in 10 UK businesses reported a moderate-to-severe risk of insolvency in August 2022. During the same period, 22% of businesses said energy prices were their main concern, which is an increase from 15% in late February 2022; in firms with 10 to 49 employees, the figure was 30%.
So, what’s being done to tackle this crisis?
Energy Price Cap
In light of the recent increase in the cost of wholesale gas, the price suppliers need to charge per unit of energy has gone up significantly.
To help protect consumers, the Government has announced the Energy Price Guarantee which comes into effect on 1 October 2022.
This new scheme will reduce the unit cost of electricity and gas so that a household with typical energy use in Great Britain pays, on average, around £2,500 a year on their energy bill, for the next 2 years.
On average usage a household will save £1,000 a year (based on current prices from October). Energy suppliers will be fully compensated by the government for the savings delivered to households.
The now-infamous mini-budget (still less than a month old) was designed to boost economic growth through tax cuts, paid for by increasing the UK’s national debt—the biggest tax cut in the UK since the 1972 "dash for growth" budget of Anthony Barber.
This, as we know, has been a complete disaster, amounting to an unfunded tax cut for the highest UK earners which, on the day of its announcement by then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, caused the pound to drop to an all-time low. The mini-budget subsequently led to a run on pension funds and in turn led to soaring mortgage rates, which hit a fresh 14-year high as of yesterday (20th October 2022).
Despite the government’s introduction of the energy price cap and now-defunct mini-budget, the fact remains that many people who have never been in debt are now facing this prospect. In-work poverty is hitting households that would usually manage despite economic uncertainty in the longest squeeze on workers’ living standards since the Napoleonic age.
Let’s see what the future holds.
Silver Insolvency Solutions
Stephen Silver is an insolvency specialist with over 40 years of experience on the job. If you’re someone dealing with outstanding debt, concerned with cash flow or facing the prospect of bankruptcy, a limited free consultation with Silver Insolvency Solutions could be of enormous benefit to you.