Number of British insolvencies edged up over last year

Julian Harris
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INSOLVENCIES have crept up over the past 12 months, according to data released by Experian this morning.

The rate of insolvencies among British companies rose to 0.1 per cent last month, compared to 0.08 per cent in February 2012.

Among medium to large-sized firms – categorised as those with between 101 and 500 employees – the rate shot up to 0.17 per cent, from 0.12 per cent 12 months earlier.

However, businesses with between 51 and 100 employees fared much better. Firms of this size saw their rate of insolvency drop from 0.2 per cent in February 2011 to just 0.12 per cent last month.

The country’s struggling construction industry – believed to be affected by cuts to government-funded building projects – saw the biggest jump in the proportion of firms becoming unable to pay their debts, compared to the UK’s four other largest industries.

In construction the insolvency rate climbed to 0.21 per cent last month, compared to 0.17 per cent a year earlier. Among all industries, pharmaceuticals recorded both the sharpest rise in its rate, plus the highest overall rate of insolvencies.

“Although business insolvencies increased slightly in February, our data is showing that UK business balance sheets have been improving gradually since August,” said Experian’s Max Firth. “Any increase in insolvencies among medium and large businesses highlights a riskier environment, particularly for the smaller firms that supply to them.”