MORE than 1,500 business in Bournemouth are in “significant” financial distress, a report says.

The analysis by Begbies Traynor blames weak consumer spending and the continuing economic and political uncertainty for the rise.

And it found the building and car trades were the areas to have seen the biggest increase in financial problems.

The business recovery and advisory firm found a one per cent increase in the number of businesses struggling between the first and second quarters of 2019 – taking the total number in significant distress to 1,580.

The Red Flag Alert data, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, revealed that there were 484,000 in significant financial distress in the second quarter. Average company debt had increased 122 per cent in the past three years to £66,000.

In Bournemouth, business in the construction and automotive sectors saw the biggest quarterly rises in distress – increasing by eight per cent and seven per cent respectively.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor in Bournemouth, said: “This latest Red Flag Alert shows the desperate need for political and economic clarity, as businesses continue to be hit hard, with construction companies most affected by the weakest consumer spending since records began in the mid-1990s.

“In addition, the national figure of average company debt shows that any gambles taken on debt could hit companies hard if power doesn’t return to the pockets of consumers soon.

“We have to remember that while an average debt of £66,000 won’t seem much to a multi-million-pound company, this can be a significant amount for SMEs, which are the engine room of both Bournemouth and the wider UK economy.”

Some sectors in Bournemouth showed tentative signs of stability during the same time period, Begbies said, with the number of bars and restaurants in distress falling seven per cent, while the number of distressed retailers fell six per cent.

Julie Palmer added: “While there have been some positive signs in this Red Flag Alert – with a drop in the number of distressed retailers in Bournemouth – there is always a storm brewing on the horizon in the current business climate. It has never been more important to have a careful navigator at the helm to steer towards calmer seas.”