Business news 8 January 2024

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Number of UK insolvencies rises 52% in two years. UK economy remains at risk of recession. Jobs market becomes more competitive. Fifth Industrial Revolution. UK petrol prices fall.  And lots more business news that we thought would interest our members.

Number of UK insolvencies rises 52% in two years

Interest rate rises, inflation, and skills and labour shortages all contributed to sharp increase in company insolvencies in 2023. A total of 30,199 UK businesses were involved in some kind of insolvency action in 2023 – 52% higher than in 2021. Some of those insolvencies are likely to have been companies which would have failed earlier, but were kept afloat by government assistance during the pandemic. “For the companies that were doing well, Covid really hurt them, but for the ones that were struggling anyway, it probably gave them a bit of breathing space to get them back where they needed to be,” said Drew Fahiya, Creditsafe’s data director. The question that remains is whether or not insolvencies will return to pre-pandemic levels soon. Tina McKenzie, policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “There’s always a lag between economic troubles and a rise in insolvencies, as businesses throw everything they have at attempts to keep going before having to call it a day. With growth sluggish at best in 2023, we may well see an impact on small firms’ finances this year, even if the economic outlook improves.”

UK economy remains at risk of recession

The UK economy is still at risk of falling into recession, despite growing 0.2% in November. Economists believe that whether the UK falls into a recession or not hinges on its performance in December. Capital Economics deputy chief UK economist Ruth Gregory warns that the effects of higher interest rates and temporary retail spending rebound may not be enough to stave off recession. Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club think tank, predicts that GDP growth in the fourth quarter was likely only marginal due to the drag from previous interest rate rises and NHS strikes.

Jobs market becomes more competitive as vacancies decline

The jobs market in the UK became more competitive at the end of last year, with a decline in job vacancies and an increase in the number of available workers. Hiring activity for both permanent and temporary roles fell in December, while the number of job vacancies decreased for the third time in four months, according to data from KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. The decline in hiring was accompanied by a fall in customer numbers and consumer spending, posing challenges for businesses. Despite easing inflation, businesses still faced high costs and concerns about borrowing costs and access to bank lending. Justine Andrew, head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said: “It’s a muted end to the year for the labour market, which, despite some loosening during 2023, continues to be tight. For those lucky enough to start a new role, there was another sharp increase in starting salaries due to competition for skilled workers. But the rise wasn’t as high as those seen in recent months as businesses face pressure on their budgets.”

Fifth Industrial Revolution will see humans and AI work together

Experts say that we have entered a Fifth Industrial Revolution that will see humans and artificial intelligence (AI) working in collaboration. John Nosta, who runs innovation think-tank NostaLab and has dubbed this era the ‘Cognitive Age’, says: “As we navigate this cognitive revolution, the opportunity at hand is to become the architects of a future where technology and humanity are not just coexistent but coevolutionary.” Pointing to “an unprecedented synergy between human and machine intelligence,” he says AI co-workers will be “enriching the human experience in ways previously unimaginable.” Louise McEntee, head of intelligent automation at Deloitte, comments that while each technological shift “has meant radical changes to how we work … Work did not go away, however, but evolved to meet the needs of business, society and the individual.”

UK petrol prices fall, but competition questions remain

The average price of petrol in the UK fell by 6p per litre in December, bringing relief to consumers after a year of trouble at the pumps. According to the RAC, a full 55-litre tank now costs £77.32, down £3.40 over the month. Diesel prices also fell by 5p, reaching £82.05. The drop in prices means that unleaded petrol is now back to levels seen in early February 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The RAC highlighted that petrol and diesel are still 5p cheaper in Northern Ireland compared to the UK average and the prices charged by the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets. Simon Williams, the RAC’s fuel spokesman, said: “It’s surely impossible to argue that competition is working properly if prices are so vastly different in two parts of the UK.”

Police investigate Post Office over Horizon fraud

The Metropolitan Police have opened a fraud investigation into the Post Office over the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of sub-postmasters. The Post Office prosecuted at least 700 postmasters over allegations of fraud, theft and false accounting based on evidence from the faulty Horizon computer system. Tens of millions of pounds was wrongly clawed back and went into Post Office profits. A spokeswoman for the Met said officers were “investigating potential fraud offences arising out of these prosecutions”, relating to “monies recovered from sub-postmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions.” Paul Marshall, a barrister who represents several of the wrongly convicted postmasters, said, “the Post Office obtained large sums of money from its postmasters on grounds that were false and that were known by it to be false.”

Manufacturing bosses: Britain is more competitive

A poll of more than 200 senior manufacturing executives by industry body Make UK and PwC shows that 52.7% believe Britain is more competitive compared to a year ago. This is up from just 31% in last year’s poll. Almost a third believe Britain is becoming more attractive compared to Germany and France, while over a quarter say the UK is increasing its competitiveness against Spain and Italy. However, a larger share of companies said the UK was losing ground against the US, China and India. Cara Haffey, leader of manufacturing at PwC, said: “After what has been a rocky few years for manufacturers, it seems there is a cautious optimism in the air.”

Fewer retail jobs lost in 2023

The number of jobs lost in British retail decreased in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to figures from the Centre for Retail Research. Despite this improvement, 120,000 workers across the sector were let go last year. 2023 saw the closure of 10,494 shops and the loss of 119,405 jobs, a reduction from the 151,641 jobs lost in 2022

UK retail sector suffers worst December record

The UK retail sector experienced its worst December performance on record, with like-for-like sales falling 2.7% compared to the previous year. The fashion sector was hit particularly hard, with sales dropping by 6.1% and instore sales by 7.5%. Sales in the lifestyle and homeware sectors also declined, albeit to a lesser extent. Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, stated that these results were the worst since records began, with negative instore sales in each of the three months leading up to Christmas. “The seriousness of these results should not be underestimated,” she warned.

US bucks expectations with 216,000 new jobs

The US added 216,000 jobs last month, (ahead of 170,000 consensus) ending a week in which strong economic data led investors to scale back their bets on interest rate cuts. Paul Ashworth, chief North America economist at Capital Economics, said the December jobs report should help to “pare back expectations for a March interest rate cut. However, all that really matters for the Fed is the consumer price inflation and producer price inflation data due next week, which we expect to be more supportive of early action from the Fed.”


Boeing is facing questions over safety after having major issues with its 737 Max aircraft aftera piece of fuselage ejected from a plan putting a gaping hole in one of Alaskan Airline’s new planes.

HMRC under fire for “sarcastic” Luke Littler post

Luke Littler, the darts sensation, has been hit with a massive tax bill after his impressive run to the final of the PDC World Championships. Littler, who won £200,000 in prize money, will now have to pay at least 45% in taxes. HMRC’s press office appeared to confirm reports about the huge tax take on X. It posted: “Big congrats to Luke on his fantastic run to the final. We can confirm the existence of income tax.” But the post elicited angry responses from fans. One wrote: “Sarcasm isn’t needed from the HMRC, thanks. It’s a terrible look for you.” Another added: “Quite an unpleasant, condescending response from HMRC, I feel – even though it may be technically accurate.” One user made the point: “And how about corporation tax for the likes of Amazon? Any witty banter about them???”

Economists revise house price forecasts

Falling mortgage rates have prompted economists to revise their expectations for the housing market, with Andrew Wishart, senior property economist at Capital Economics, shifting his prediction of a 3% decline in prices to an increase of around 1.5%. Anthony Codling, a housing industry analyst at RBC, believes the Government may provide support for first-time buyers ahead of the election, bolstering his expectation for an increase in prices. The about-turns come after Halifax estimated house prices across the UK rose by 1.1% on average in December, the third monthly rise in a row.

NatWest chief under fire over first-time buyer remarks

The chairman of NatWest, Sir Howard Davies, has caused a stir after arguing that it was not “that difficult” for people to get on the property ladder in the UK. Asked during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when he thought it would become easier for people to get on the property ladder, Sir Howard replied: “Well, I don’t think it’s that difficult at the moment… You have to save and that is the way it always used to be.” Finance expert Prof Richard Murphy, from Sheffield University, wrote on X that Sir Howard’s remarks were a “staggering demonstration of the disconnect between bankers and reality in this country.” Sir Howard later attempted to explain his comments, saying: “I do recognise how difficult it is for people buying a home and I did not intend to underplay the serious challenges they face.”

Finance chiefs optimistic

A survey of finance chiefs by Deloitte shows that more are feeling optimistic about their firms’ economic prospects than they did three months ago. Sentiment among finance leaders has risen for the second consecutive quarter, with a net 11% of chief finance officers more optimistic about the financial prospects of their business than they were three months ago. Although the pace of economic growth slowed in 2023, Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said activity “proved more resilient than expected.” Noting low levels of unemployment, companies’ profits holding up and “an absence of stress in financial markets,” he commented: “Crucially, inflation has fallen sharply since the summer, bolstering expectations of earlier interest rate reductions.”

Bankers expect takeover boom

While the market for corporate takeovers was dismal in 2023, investment bankers are optimistic that M&A activity could be about to pick up as concerns over inflation, interest rates and consumer sentiment ease. London Stock Exchange Group data shows that the value of deals hit $2.9trn in 2023, down from $3.6trn in 2022 and $5.3trn in 2021. However, Christopher Jones, managing partner at Clearwater International, said: “There is a huge backlog of assets that are being readied for sale in 2024,” adding: “Our sell side pipeline is by far the largest it has ever been.” Kirshlen Moodley, UK head of advisory at BNP Paribas, noted that with City insiders having suggested that UK companies appear cheap compared with their overseas counterparts, Britain may be “up for sale.”

Customers want local banks

Two thirds of bank customers would miss their local branch if it closed, according to a survey by KPMG. The survey found that 64% of customers wanted access to local in-person banking, with 20% considering a branch visit the most important way to contact their bank. However, 20% of customers had not used their branch in the past year, and 34% considered app-based services more important than branches or telephone banking. Banks and building societies have closed over 5,800 branches since January 2015, with Barclays leading the way with the closure of 1,140 sites.

Nottingham City Council ordered to publish report on financial mismanagement

Nottingham City Council has been ordered by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to publish a report on how it manages its finances. The council had refused to disclose the report, which was compiled by accountants Ernst and Young, following an appeal by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS). The report revealed significant misspending of £51m in the council’s Housing Revenue Account in 2021 and found that the council’s financial management was “not fit for purpose”. The ICO ruled that the public interest outweighed the council’s concerns about further activity being impacted by full disclosure. The council, which declared itself effectively bankrupt in November, will comply with the ruling.


UK Construction eased in December, figures showed today. Figures from S&P Global showed a fall in UK construction activity in December, but the rate of decline eased to the slowest since the current phase of decline began last September. At 46.8 in December, the headline Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index was below the neutral 50.0 mark for the fourth month running but was up from 45.5 in November and the highest for four months.

Eurozone Inflation

Eurozone Headline Inflation jumped to 2.9% in December, up from 2.4% the previous month, though core inflation continued to ease, according to data released Friday by Eurostat. The annual print was a little lower than the 3% forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. Core inflation — which doesn’t include energy, food, alcohol and tobacco prices — cooled to 3.4% last month from 3.6% in November.

Badenoch: We’re working hard to promote Britain’s services sector

The Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, writes in the Daily Express on how the Government is taking advantage of our Brexit freedoms to sign new – or update existing – trade deals with countries around the world, tailored to the UK economy’s strengths. Badenoch is particularly focussed on improving deals for services but notes how the UK is also unlocking opportunities for services companies outside of trade deals, such as with the financial services agreement with Switzerland. “So, the Department for Business and Trade is working hard to make sure that the future is bright for the UK’s talented and cutting-edge services sector, and I will keep pushing on new trade deals so we can really seize the benefits of Brexit.”

Badenoch moves to upgrade trade deal with Turkey

The UK Government is pushing for an upgraded trade deal with Turkey, focusing on services, digital, and data. On her visit to Istanbul, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch will also discuss investment opportunities in manufacturing, tech, and transport. Ms Badenoch said: “I’m delighted to be in Turkey ahead of talks to upgrade our existing trade deal to make it fit for the 21st century. The UK is the second biggest exporter of services in the world – UK lawyers, accountants and architects are in high demand across the globe.” TheCityUK managing director Nicola Watkinson said: “Turkey holds tremendous growth potential through the rising Middle East to Asia growth corridor. The UK is well-positioned to forge innovative and forward-looking trade agreements and be part of these exciting opportunities.”

PM to fund tax cuts by curbing welfare spending

The Prime Minister has told the Sunday Telegraph that he is determined to cut taxes further before the election. In an interview with the paper, Rishi Sunak said: “When I say that I want to keep cutting taxes, that’s what we’re going to deliver.” He explained that cutting taxes would require “difficult decisions on public spending” and on controlling welfare. Mr Sunak went further than the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, who on Saturday would not guarantee tax cuts although he did describe inheritance tax as “pernicious” raising hopes that it could be cut in the March budget. Reflecting on Mr Sunak’s pledge, a Sunday Telegraph editorial states: “What the public will want to see from Mr Sunak and his party is the details of his vision. Many will be understandably wary of believing in promised future tax cuts when the Government’s track record is, to say the least, somewhat mixed. Stating which taxes will be cut, and then implementing at least some of these prior to the election, will be vital in winning back trust.”

Reeves vows not to raise NICs or income tax

The shadow chancellor has promised not to raise national insurance or income tax in a major election pledge. Rachel Reeves told the Mirror that a Labour government would instead strive to cut levies on wages. She said: “I would like working people to have more of their own money in their pockets.” Her pledge comes as the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that despite the Government’s national insurance cut, overall taxes would rise this year due to frozen tax thresholds, which will push people into higher tax brackets. “Put the two together and this is, overall, actually a tax increase,” it said. Elsewhere, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he hoped he would be able to reduce the tax burden soon. “I think people have found the pressures on family budgets very high in the last couple of years,” he said. Hunt also described IHT as pernicious in his strongest hint yet that it could be cut.

Latest Insolvencies

Petitions to wind up (Companies) – SALE E PEPE LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – BASAR ET LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – GAS BUS ALLIANCE LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DC TRANSPORT SERVICES LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MALACHITE INVESTMENTS (NI) LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ISS TECHNICAL SERVICES NI LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – CISCO GROUP LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – OWNWOOD LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – RAYS PROPERTY & INVESTMENT LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – KD PARCELS LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DJD LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – MASS FREEHOLD LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – METRO FRESH SUPERSTORE LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – TRAVEL PRODUCER LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – KENT CAPITAL LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MICHAEL LIMB HOLDINGS LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – TRADE PAINT COLCHESTER LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DYNAMIC STORAGE LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – WASP CIVIL ENGINEERING LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – GLOBAL VANDEMIC CAMPERS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – FORERUNNER CONSULTING LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – NYA HOLDINGS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – HRS SCOTLAND LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – ARQUER DIAGNOSTICS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CLICK PROMOTIONS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – DESTINATION EUROPE LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DAEDALIAN GLASS LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – APPLE FOOD SYSTEMS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – PREMIER WHOLESALE 247 LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – ERADICURE (STRATFORD-UPON-AVON) LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CHANGEPACE CONSULTING LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CROWLEYS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – GZX CONSULTANCY LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – MOTIONLAB MARKETING LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DANIEL GALVIN JR HOLDINGS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TITANIUM UK HOLDCO 1 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – THE 3RD EYE LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – BUNN LEISURE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CHIPPEWAYS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CARTALOGIC AP LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – GREENWICH RESIDENCES LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – LUMIRADX INTERNATIONAL LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – D3 AUDIO & VISUAL LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – BREEM CONSTRUCTION LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – MONORAILS AND SATELLITES LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – SSYS HARROW LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ISPA LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – RHINOS LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – MTS NATIONWIDE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ARD & COMPANY LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – DEARNE PAVE LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – AIR MANAGEMENT & DESIGN LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – PEBZ SOLUTIONS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – BUTTON MOBILE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – KEYSTONE GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – BLASFORD CAPITAL LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ML PORTFOLIO LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BRISTOL & WEST PLC
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – P REDDINGTON ELECTRICAL LIMITED

Why should you become a CPA member!

The Credit Protection Association (CPA) has been assisting thousands of UK businesses to get paid, since 1914. We have seen many financial crises, this one will be particularly deadly for suppliers for some time to come.

CPA eases cash from tardy debtors – Efficiently, Effectively, Economically and Ethically. And we provide credit information so you can monitor and assess your key customers.

Unlike other credit management companies, we offer our members a fixed annual subscription regardless of how high the debt value maybe!

Just call Peter Uwins, CPA’s National Sales Manager, on 020 8846 0000 (business hours) or email today.

When you see your money come in, you will be so glad you used CPA.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections


Do you have a commercial late payer that is causing you grief? Use CPA’s no-win, no-fee, commercial debt recovery service!

If you have a particular business customer who is late paying and causing you sleepless nights, why not offer it to CPA for purchase on recourse?

CPA’s collection department will then pursue the debt. We will be liable for any costs incurred and then when we have recovered the debt, we will pay you the net principle debt recovered less our percentage.

Once you have enjoyed that success then you can consider the more cost effective membership which includes our Overdue Account Recovery service and Status/Credit reports as well as a range of other complimentary services.

Just call  020 8846 0000 and ask for Godfrey Nelson or Cris Shirley (business hours) or email today.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.


Get compensated for previous late payments

Have you been paid late by business customers in the last six years?

Maybe you no longer work with them. Under legislation, you are entitled to  compensation you for those late payments you have suffered.

You put up with the PAIN – now claim the GAIN!

Claim late payment compensation (LPC) from former business customers who paid you late in the last six years!

CPA (LPC) Recoveries is using our bespoke software and decades of experience to do just that for our clients

Check our compensation calculator to see how much your business could be owed!

Discover NOW the potential value of late payment compensation hidden in your sales ledger!

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.