Company insolvency statistics - Q1 2019

The January to March 2019 statistics on new company insolvencies in England and Wales have been published by The Insolvency Service, together with related figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Key features for England and Wales

  • Total underlying company insolvencies increased in Q1 2019.
  • Administrations increased to the highest level for 5 years.
  • Creditors’ voluntary liquidations, administrations and company voluntary arrangements all increased in Q1 2019, while compulsory liquidations decreased.

The seasonally adjusted figures show that there were 4,187 total underlying company insolvencies in Q1 2019 – a 6.3% increase on Q4 2018. When compared to the same quarter last year, this represents an increase of 5.1%, and is the second highest underlying level of insolvencies in any quarter since Q1 2014.

The number of administrations increased by 21.8% in Q1 2019, to the highest quarterly level since Q1 2014.

The liquidation rate remains low, with 1 in 238 companies liquidated in the 12 months ending Q1 2019. Unlike the absolute number of liquidations over a given period, the liquidation rate gives an indication of the likelihood of a company entering liquidation in the previous four quarters.

In the 12 months ending Q1 2019, for every 10,000 active companies in England and Wales, 42.1 were liquidated, a slight rise from 41.4 per 10,000 in Q4 2018.

Unsurprisingly, changes in company liquidation rates are related to economic conditions; with liquidation rates tending to decrease during periods of economic growth. Although the number of liquidations was slightly higher in 1993 than in 2009, the rate of liquidations was substantially higher in 1993, as the number of active companies more than doubled over this period, giving a much smaller proportion of the total number of companies entering liquidation during 2009.

Industry sectors

Underlying insolvencies increased across several industries in the 12 months ending Q1 2019, with administrative and support services the most affected by bulk insolvencies.

The wholesale and retail trade; repair of vehicles industry grouping saw the largest increase in underlying insolvencies. Meanwhile, the arts, entertainment and recreation category was subject to the largest decrease in underlying insolvencies.

In the twelve months ending Q1 2019, the construction industry remains the sector with the highest number of new company insolvencies.


  • There were 275 company insolvencies in Scotland in Q1 2019.
  • This represents an increase of 16% when compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
  • The figures for Scotland are not seasonally-adjusted.

Due to administrative differences, the majority of company liquidations in Scotland are compulsory liquidations, in contrast to England and Wales, where creditors’ voluntary liquidations (CVLs) account for the majority of company liquidations. 

Northern Ireland

  • There were 66 individual insolvencies in Northern Ireland in Q1 2019, representing a decrease of 29.4% compared with the same quarter of the previous year.
  • The figures for Northern Ireland are not seasonally-adjusted.

Presentation changes to the quarterly insolvency statistics release

The figures for the first quarter of 2019 are the first impacted by the changes proposed at the end of 2018, with data for company and individual insolvencies split into two separate publications. This initiative aimed at modelling the releases to the specific needs of users, whilst also including more detailed quality analysis; it is intended that the new publications will be more concise and focused on recent trends and changes in insolvencies, as well as featuring methodology separately for expert users.

The Insolvency Service welcomes feedback on the new formats; via:

Next release

The next figures will be released at the end of July 2019.

See also

Insolvency Service reviews current regulatory landscape

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Company insolvency statistics, Q1 Jan-March 2019