Almost 300,000 businesses failed last year according to a new report by the Office of National Statistics.
The number of ‘business deaths’ rose by 20,000, some 7.4% to 297,000 between 2009 and 2010.
The ‘death rate’ also hit 12.9% compared to 11.8% for the previous year. It was the second consecutive year they had outnumbered the number of business births which fell by 0.4% to 235,000.
And the quantity of active businesses dropped by 42,000, recording a fall of 1.8%. The report also revealed less than half the number of businesses started in 2005 were still active by 2010.
The hotel and catering sector in particular fared the worst with only 33.6% of businesses surviving for five years.
A spokesman for the Forum of Private Business described the statistics as “gloomy”.
He said: ” The ONS figures speak for themselves – 2010 truly was the private sector’s ‘annus horribilis’, with record numbers of firms going to the wall, and a record low number of new start ups. It paints a gloomy picture.”