There was a 6% rise in the number of companies in financial distress in Q4 2009, bringing the total to 140,000.
Begbies Traynor, the insolvency specialist behind the figures, warns although these statistics were better than at the peak of the crisis, they will most likely worsen again by the end of the year.
This is due to the fact unemployment levels and corporate and personal insolvencies generally lag technical recessions by one to two years.
The situation will be exacerbated by the imminent end of the ‘time to pay' scheme. Introduced by the Goverment last autumn, the scheme enabled over a quarter of a million businesses to delay making payments on their tax bills for between three and six months.
Total tax owing under this scheme has now risen to £4.2bn. There is a fear many of the companies to which the temporary tax amnesty was extended won't survive and the scheme is simply encouraging them to go on racking up debt beyond a sensible level.
Given this, as the scheme draws to a close, Begbies expects a significant rise in company failures, especially in the third quarter of 2010.
Its report also highlights HMRC remains one of the principal creditors in many insolvencies.
"When the Government introduced the scheme, I don't think they expected the rush of companies they got. Most companies found it remarkably easy to get the referral, they just had to ring their local tax office and ask nicely.
"Anecdotally, we are hearing HMRC is now starting to clamp down."
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