ALMOST 1,500 businesses across Swindon are in significant financial distress, according to the latest report from UK insolvency firm Begbies Traynor.

The company's Red Flag Data Alert for the first quarter of 2019 reveals a six per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of struggling companies – now 1496 – with property and construction firms accounting for 23 per cent of ailing businesses.

The report uses an algorithm drawing on factual legal and financial data from a wide range of relevant sources, including the Begbies Traynor insolvency data sets.

A company, based on the Windmill Hill Business Park, is deemed to be significant distress when they have had a county court judgement filed against them or have been identified Red Flag's risk scoring rating which measures working capital, contingent liabilities, retained profits and net worth.

Julie Palmer, regional managing partner at Begbies Traynor in Swindon, said: “Many businesses in Swindon are in limbo and are deferring major investment decisions. This, combined with consumers holding back on big ticket purchases, has resulted in increasing significant distress across many sectors.

“This trend is reflected in our latest Red Flag research, which clearly shows both business and consumers have taken a cautious approach and limited their exposure.

“Worryingly, the data also shows that this economic malaise appears to be indiscriminate across multiple sectors, so needs to be stopped in its tracks by a combination of political certainty and a commitment to support UK business – particularly to SMEs which are the ‘engine room’ of the UK economy.”

Property firms in distress in Swindon saw an increase of 32 per cent year-on-year, along with telecommunications (22 per cent) and professional services firms (11 per cent).

The retail sector was surprisingly improved, the number of food, drug and general retailers in significant financial distress is down by 17 per cent on the same period in 2018.

Nationally the report reveals 484,000 UK businesses are in significant financial distress, causing concern of a wide slump during 2019.