Scottish corporate insolvencies soar by 77% in the final quarter of 2021

Scottish corporate insolvencies in the final three months of last year were 77% higher than in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest figures published by the Accountant in Bankruptcy.

Scottish corporate insolvencies soar by 77% in the final quarter of 2021

According to the figures, there were 239 corporate insolvencies between October and December 2021, compared with 135 in the same period of 2020.

The year-on-year increase was driven by a rise in the number of creditors’ voluntary liquidations, which totalled 189 in the fourth quarter of last year but totalled just 88 in the final quarter of 2020.

The number of compulsory liquidations totalled 50 between October and December 2021, which is slightly higher than the figure of 47 for the same period in 2020.

A total of 634 bankruptcies were awarded during the third quarter of 2021– no change from the same quarter in 2020-21. Proteted Trust Deeds (PTDs) also stayed the same at 1,429 when compared with the same period in the previous financial year.

Richard Bathgate, chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 in Scotland and restructuring partner at Johnston Carmichael, commented on the figures: “The annual increase in corporate insolvencies has been driven by the rise in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations, which indicates that many directors are making the decision to close their businesses after struggling for more than 18 months to trade through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“One factor that will have played into the rise in corporate insolvencies was the ending of government COVID support measures.

“The furlough scheme provided critical support in retaining jobs and incomes. In January 2021 it was supporting almost 400,000 jobs in Scotland. With that coming to an end in September 2021, along with the expiry of other support measures such as certain rates relief for Scottish retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and a range of state-backed loans, any businesses that were relying on government support would have had to make tough decisions about whether their company’s future was sustainable.”

Mr Bathgate continued: “The fall in annual personal insolvencies has been driven by a drop in Bankruptcies and Protected Trust Deeds. This reinforces the point that the Government’s support measures have prevented the economic effects of the pandemic from translating into higher levels of personal insolvency by providing protection for those whose personal finances may have been hardest hit.

“However, the 7.5% Q3 2021/22 quarterly increase in personal insolvencies suggests that people are starting to struggle now those measures have ended and we may see personal insolvencies increasing as 2022 goes on.

“The end of the furlough scheme in September 2021, coupled with the slow but strong reopening of the economy, has meant that there has been little evidence of an increase in unemployment in 2021.”

He added: “Despite falling unemployment rates, 2021 saw the cost of living skyrocket for families, with rising fuel and energy bills, surging food prices and inflation hitting a near 30-year high, meaning many have been struggling, especially those on the lowest incomes.

“In addition, National Insurance is set to go up from April 2022, so those who are already finding it tough to make ends meet may find they have even less left over each month.”

Mr Bathgate concluded: “Our advice to anyone worried about their finances remains clear: seek help from a qualified and experienced R3 member in Scotland at the earliest sign of financial distress. The earlier you seek advice, the more options you have for resolving your situation, and the more time you have to take a considered decision about your next step.”

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