Last week The Insolvency Service released the insolvency statistics for the fourth quarter of 2017. Whenever these are published, the newspapers will always look for the story without going into the details.

So for example, the press reported that personal insolvencies in 2017 increased by 9% as compared to 2016, Of course that is correct, but they didn’t report that personal insolvencies fell by 11% in Q4 2017 as compared to Q3.

It is of course true that when inflation is higher than increases in wages then it will have an effect on individuals’ surplus income and in many cases (99,196 in 2017), will lead to personal insolvencies. In the short term this is expected to continue.

Another story that didn’t seem to hit the headlines was a 2.5% rise in corporate insolvencies in 2017 as compared to 2016. First this is a small increase in any event. However, it should also be noted that corporate insolvencies have been at a historically low number for a few years now, so a small increase on what is already a small number is not worth mentioning.

So this all seems like reasonably good news for the economy as a whole. On face value it does but at PBC we are starting to see growing signs of trouble ahead.  Over the last 3 months we have seen a growing number of enquiries and work.  It is fair to say that the retail sector (the high street in particular), is struggling, partially because of the reduction in personal incomes., and also businesses which deal with discretionary spend items (for example, new car sales are down).

At some stage we also expect fallout from the Carillion failure as subcontractors and those further down the chain come to terms with the lost income and future work.

It was also interesting to see that the FCA has started to address the issue of interest only mortgages. The FCA estimate there are 1.67 million full interest only and part capital repayment mortgages in the UK and the most of these will conclude in the next 10 to 14 years. Clearly as these come to a conclusion it will have an effect on those consumers and therefore the economy.  Only time will tell.

As always if you or your business is starting to struggle we would always recommend that you take advice at an early stage. Initial meetings with PBC are free and confidential.