That is the headline from the corporate insolvency statistics for the second quarter (1 April – 30 June 2023) that were published on 28 July by the Insolvency Service.
In total there were 6,342 company insolvencies of which 93% were either creditors voluntary liquidations (5,240) or compulsory liquidations (637). Collectively in the year (Q3 of 2022 to Q2 of 2023) the recorded number of creditor voluntary liquidations (“CVL”) is the highest since 1960, which is remarkable when you consider arguably our worst recession that peaked in 1993. The latest figures mean the rate of liquidations is 52 in every 10,000 active companies registered as compared to 43.9/10,000 one year ago.
The remaining numbers reported were 409 administrations and only 56 company voluntary arrangements. In addition to these numbers the two new rescue procedures introduced under the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act have hardly been utilised. From 26 June 2020 to 30 June 2023 there have only been 45 Moratoriums and 21 Restructuring Plans.
The big question must surely be why? In short, the common features appear to be:
- The combination of Brexit, quickly followed by Covid-19 has had a severe impact on the world-wide economy.
- Cash flow has been adversely hit following the withdrawal of the Government’s fiscal and other measures put in place to support businesses during the pandemic, together with the legacy the financial support and the pandemic have left.
- Because of that support, companies that would ordinarily have ceased trading in 2020-21 were able to continue longer than envisaged. This means the 2022-23 figures are swelled by the legacy of the higher than usual company survival rates during the pandemic.
Something that you will not see in Government dispatches is that many companies are using CVL as a vehicle for selling the business and assets, or even to “Phoenix” into a new company. This is because of the much-contested decision to make HMRC a secondary preferential creditor, resulting in the restructuring procedures being no longer viable in many cases. The low numbers of administrations, CVA, moratoriums and restructuring plans are indicative of this problem.
The saying, “Lies, damn lies and statistics” has some merit when considering the insolvency numbers because it is the devil in the detail beneath those core figures that matters and the signs are many businesses are finding themselves the subject of a merger or acquisition.
At PBC we are finding ourselves assisting companies and their professional advisors with going concern sales more often than in the past and we see no reason for that current trend to change in the short term. However, more often than not, the key to an organised resolution is to seek advice at an early stage. It is a long-standing piece adage but there can be no coincidence that most businesses are saved in one form or another where the directors sought advice early.
If you require any advice or assistance on any insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency to discuss and advise on your situation on 01604 212150 (Northampton) or 01908 488653 (Milton Keynes) or email to email@example.com. Alternatively, visit www.pbcbusinessrecovery.co.uk for further information.