Commenting on the Government’s December insolvency statistics
Zelf Hussain, restructuring partner at PwC, said:
“In December 2021 insolvencies rose by a fifth year-on-year and by a third compared to December 2019. There are number of factors to consider for this rise:
“The buffering effects of government support have been crucial for many and have undoubtedly suppressed company failures. December 2021’s numbers are stark, and will take into account the impact on the retail and hospitality sectors of consumers staying out of city centres and other hubs due to the Omicron variant.
“Some businesses, especially the smaller operators, will simply have been unable to tide themselves over, which is reflected by the number of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations. However, the figures may be masking issues which are coming to the boil over the next few months as the December statistics reveal other types of company insolvencies, such as administrations and CVAs, remained lower than before the pandemic.
“A quiet January is likely to increase the pressure on companies’ bottom lines but market sentiment is already hardening in other areas. Winding up petitions and CCJ’s have been on the increase since furlough support was ended. But this does not include winding-up orders for commercial rental liabilities built up during the pandemic,which remain off the table until the end of March 2022, as does landlords’ ability to evict tenants. Businesses need to be prepared and get ahead of the issues before they are overtaken by them.
“Our recent Global CEO Survey supports this view with three quarters of CEOs saying they were concerned about the uncertainty and volatility in the markets which almost certainly will impact their performance.”
Toby Banfield restructuring partner at PwC, added:
“The headline numbers for December’s insolvency statistics put the rising insolvency trends into sharp focus. Tracking insolvency data across 2021, PwC has observed sectors including business services, engineering and construction, manufacturing, retail and hospitality sectors and real estate management as being particularly exposed, despite sustained government support.
“Initial statistics from an upcoming PwC analysis of insolvency trends puts the financial impact of these procedures into focus: By the start of December 2021 more than 24,000 companies had entered into an insolvency procedure across the year, impacting total assets of more than £139bn and turnover of more than £36bn.
“The crucial first few months of this year will be centred on companies working with lenders, suppliers, landlords including local councils, and the tax authorities to shore themselves up and restructure where needed, preserving capital and without having to take protection from creditor action by entering insolvency.”
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