NEW figures released by the BBC show that a total of 27 firms have gone into insolvency in East Lancashire since the start of lockdown.

These were spread across the region with six companies folding in the borough of Blackburn with Darwen, another six in Burnley, five in Chorley, three in Hyndburn, three in Pendle and four in the Ribble Valley.

Business leaders have stressed that local businesses will be key to driving the post virus economic recovery.

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Miranda Barker said: “Obviously its extremely sad to hear of any companies going into insolvency in our area – every job is valuable especially at the moment.

“Whilst there has been an unprecedented level of direct government support for businesses throughout the covid crisis, we also know that some firms weren’t able to access enough support to survive and viably reopen and of course many are now facing fresh difficulties caused by local lockdowns in areas of spiking covid cases.”

The insolvencies have not yet represented an abnormal increase, with Blackburn with Darwen’s rate only increasing by two, while nationwide insolvencies have actually decreased compared to the same period last year.

Economists believe that this is most likely due to government support for companies but have cautioned that businesses are likely to face further challenges as they emerge from lockdown 'hibernation'.

Similarly, the looming threat of a second wave and speculation about local lockdowns or semi-lockdowns has left many surviving businesses concerned about the future.

These concerns have been especially acute in East Lancashire where coronavirus cases have been increasing, with Blackburn with Darwen currently enduring the highest infection rate in the country.

Ms Barker said: “We hope the government will answer our calls for additional support for our businesses in those areas being hit by extended lockdown type restrictions.”

“Please do contact the chamber to let us know what the government needs to hear.”

Meanwhile the UK government has been assessing the likely economic challenges on a national level.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Earlier this month we announced the second stage of our plan which aims to support, protect, and create jobs across the UK.

“It includes a 15 percent VAT cut for hospitality, leisure and retail, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus, and job creation through investment in greening homes and buildings.

“As the economy re-opens, we will continue to look at how to adjust our support in a way that ensures people can get back to work, protecting both the UK economy and the livelihoods of people across the country.”

If you run a business and would like to make your thoughts known, contact East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce here: