Q2 2021 England and Wales insolvency statistics, R3 response
30 July 2021
Colin Haig, President of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 and Head of Restructuring at Azets, responds to the Q2 2021 England & Wales corporate and individual insolvency statistics, which were published this morning by the Insolvency Service:
“The increase in corporate insolvencies – to the highest quarterly total in 18 months – has been driven by a rise in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs), which have increased to pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s hard to say what’s driving this increase in CVLs, but it could be that directors of a number of companies have decided they can no longer go on trading as a result of the pandemic, and are opting to close down their businesses by using the CVL process, before the situation deteriorates further.
“What is clear is that the figures published today show the toll the challenges of the last three months – and the twelve before them – have taken on the business community.
“While many business owners were hoping the lifting of the lockdown would help them, they reopened amid low consumer confidence, a time when people were being encouraged to stay local, and when the economy was still a long way from recovering from the blow the start of the pandemic dealt it. The formal end of lockdown may have improved their situation, but it wasn’t the boost many businesses had hoped for.
“However, the Government’s support measures have remained in place over this period and are likely the reason why today’s increase isn’t as severe as it could have been. This support has been a lifeline for many businesses, but with the end of furlough in sight, directors now need to take the time to plan for how they’ll manage when this initiative ends.
“Looking ahead to the next quarter, the picture appears to be more positive. The economy is continuing to recover – the IMF has predicted it will grow by seven per cent this year, consumer spending is now above 2019 levels, and people are more optimistic about their personal finances.
“With the removal of the final COVID restrictions and the vaccine rollout continuing, there’s a chance many businesses may be able to return to near-normality again – although some sectors will take longer to get to this point.”
“Government has introduced some innovative solutions to help companies in trouble, but management has to seek advice before working capital is exhausted for these to be considered. If you don't know who to speak to, you can find a local source of insolvency and restructuring advice on R3’s website."
“The decrease in personal insolvencies has been driven by a fall in numbers of Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Bankruptcies, although it’s worth noting that Debt Relief Order numbers have increased.
“This could well be a sign that the Breathing Space Scheme, which was introduced in May of this year, is delaying people from having to enter a personal insolvency process when they previously would have, by giving them time free from creditor action so they can consider their options and seek debt advice.
“With 11,747 people making use of the Breathing Space up until 30 June, there is clearly a significant demand for this scheme, but whether this prevents more people from entering a personal insolvency process or delays their entry into one is too early to tell.
“Despite the fall in personal insolvencies, the last three months have been challenging for consumers, as the delay in lifting the final stages of lockdown have affected people’s return to work – or in some cases, return to full-time work.
“Government support has helped many through this period, with the furlough scheme enabling millions to avoid unemployment, but it hasn’t been able to help everyone and has meant people have had their incomes reduced as a result of being furloughed.
“And, although the pandemic has meant a number of people have been able to save money, it has meant others, typically those on lower incomes, have had to borrow or use their savings. People in this situation are typically one unexpected issue, such as a reduction in hours at work or a sudden bill, away from insolvency.
“Anyone who is worried about their finances – personal or business – should seek advice from a qualified source as soon as possible. Money worries are one of the hardest subjects to talk about, but having a conversation at an early stage means you have more potential solutions available, and more time to decide which option is right for you.
R3 members can provide advice on a range of business and personal finance issues. To find an R3 member who can help you, click below.