INSOLVENCY figures for January have confirmed there was no post-Christmas boost for businesses in the south, insolvency professionals at R3 have said. 

Although the newly published statistics for England and Wales show a dip when compared to December, insolvencies are up from January last year and against pre-pandemic levels. 

R3’s analysis of data from The Insolvency Service also showed a rise in personal insolvencies, indicating January was another tough month for consumers. 

Neil Stewart, chairman of R3’s southern and Thames Valley region, said is it “inescapable that pressure on businesses and individuals remains high”. 

He said: “Creditor pressure, including post-pandemic efforts by HMRC to collect accumulated tax debts, has not abated and borrowing remains problematic, at a time when the cash reserves of many businesses have been exhausted. 

“Levels of corporate insolvency were lower than in December due to a fall in the number of CVLs, but compulsory liquidations returned to their second highest level in four years. 

“Creditors are vigorously pursuing the debts they are owed as we go into the final quarter of the financial year, and they look to balance their own books and pay their own debts. 

“January brought few businesses relief from the hardships of 2023. The post-Christmas boost many were hoping for didn’t happen as people with already stretched budgets were constrained by the costs of food, fuel and energy, and held back on spending on non-essentials, while running costs for businesses remained high and margins remained thin. 

“As a result, struggling businesses missed out on the lifeline they were hoping for from the Christmas trading period.” 

Neil, a regional associate director at insolvency litigation financing company Manolete Partners, added: “We know January is traditionally a tough month for consumers – and this was no exception.  

“Christmas came at the end of a year of increased expenses, and the outgoings associated with it may have been too much for those who had been scraping by until then.  

“Food, fuel, housing and energy costs remain high – as they have for a long time now – and are stretching many households’ finances.”