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British company insolvencies hit new pandemic highs in November

LONDON (Reuters) – Company insolvencies in England and Wales rose last month to their highest level since January 2019, surpassing pre-COVID levels for the first time, government data showed on Friday.

The Insolvency Service, a government agency, registered 1,674 business insolvencies in November, up from 1,410 in October. This comprises mostly voluntary liquidations of businesses, but also companies falling into administration and compulsory liquidations.

The volume of business closures dropped sharply last year, when many businesses were kept on life support by government COVID support programmes. Court capacity was reduced and creditors faced restrictions on taking legal action until recently, slowing the process of company dissolutions.

“Times are tough for businesses in England and Wales as the pandemic continues to take its toll on the economy and the firms that drive it,” said Christina Fitzgerald, vice president of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3. “Over the last few weeks, businesses have been hit by the triple whammy of increased costs, supply chain issues and rising COVID cases.”

It was a similar story in Scotland, where company insolvencies rose in November to their highest level since monthly records started in January 2019.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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