Business collapses send mixed signals

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The Independent Online
THE NUMBER of companies going bust fell by 10 per cent in the last quarter of 1992, the steepest fall for five years, but the figures for 1992 were up 12 per cent on the previous year, splitting opinions yesterday on whether the recession is ending.

A total of 6,028 businesses collapsed in the three months to the end of December compared with a record 6,699 the previous quarter, according to Department of Trade and Industry figures released yesterday. For the year as a whole, 24,424 companies went under.

Richard Brown, director of policy for the British Chambers of Commerce, which published the survey for the DTI, said: 'It would be very wrong to take any satisfaction from these latest figures, and it is certainly premature to announce that the recession is over, based on one quarter's fall.'

However, he added: 'These figures do represent another shred of evidence to add to the accumulating pile which suggests the economy is once again moving in the right direction.'

Robin Cook, Labour's trade and industry spokesman, was less impressed: 'Last year a tidal wave of over 61,000 companies and individuals were forced into bankruptcy.

'It is a sign of the desperation of government ministers that they will claim these figures reveal that the storm is passing and we are heading into tranquil waters.

'But while they are sailing around in a dream-boat, everyone else is clinging on to driftwood for dear life.'

Individual bankruptcies in the last quarter of the year reached a record 9,795 compared with 9,397 in the previous three months.