A total of 25,158 registered company insolvencies in 2023, the highest annual number since 1993.

This is according to the accounting and advisory firm Azets, which has a regional office in Hexham.

Included in these statistics are 20,577 creditors' voluntary liquidations (CVLs), 2,827 compulsory liquidations, 1,567 administrations, 185 company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) and two receivership appointments.

The number of CVLs saw a rise of 9 per cent from 2022, setting a new record.

Kerry Pearson, partner and insolvency practitioner at Azets, said: "This time last year we warned that business owners ought to be a bit more nervous.

"Forced injections of liquidity into the economy often creates complacency, and despite some recent easing of financial pressures, many businesses are still battling the long-term effects of economic and geopolitical events that began during the pandemic."

Ms Pearson added that an inflated number of "zombie" businesses, kept afloat by low interest rates and cheap borrowing, have been hit hard by the increasing inability to service a more meaningful interest bill.

She added: "Unfortunately, the outlook for 2024 is not much better and we can expect business failures to rise at much the same rate."

However, companies that seek help sooner have a much greater chance of preserving the business and protecting jobs. Time has well and truly run out for those that continue to bury their heads.”