December 19, 2017 / 1:48 PM / in 10 months

UK business insolvency risk rises as Brexit approaches - report

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The number of British businesses facing the risk of insolvency grew over the course of 2017, insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - A man peers into a closed down shop, next door to another shop holding a closing down sale, in central London February 27, 2013. Britain's economy contracted by 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2012 as first thought, keeping alive the danger of a third recession since 2008, although yearly growth was revised up, data showed on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The study, drawn from a database of 3.6 million companies using performance indicators including balance sheets and directors’ track records, showed the highest growth in risk in the technology sector.

The figures come as British companies face rising inflation, exchange rate fluctuations and uncertainty, all exacerbated by protracted Brexit negotiations.

R3 said a third of all the companies it studied were in its “higher than average risk” band in December, up from a quarter at the beginning of the year.

It did not give details how the bands were calculated, or say how many firms were in each.

The percentage of IT firms with a higher-than-average risk of insolvency rose to almost 39.8 percent in December from 33.5 in January.

Higher levels were also seen in the transport and haulage, professional services and outsourcing sectors.

Government data earlier this year showed the number of people registering as insolvent in England and Wales hit a five-year high in the third quarter.

Debt charities and the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales (ICAEW) warned that the latest sharp increase indicated wider problems in Britain’s consumer-led economy.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary

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