THE number of companies going bust each year in East Lancashire has risen in all six boroughs with Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley hard hit.

A new analysis of business insolvencies shows that between 2019 and 2022 the number of firms going into liquidation annually also rose in Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Pendle.

The figure for Blackburn with Darwen rose by 40 per cent over the four years from 20 to 28 with a total figure for the period of 85,

In Burnley it shot up from 48 a year to 201 - more than quadrupling - while over the period of 2019 to 2022 455 firms went into insolvency.

Lancashire as a whole saw a 91 per cent rise across the period from 321 to 613 with a total of 1,651 businesses being liquidated.

The figure for Hyndburn rose from four in 2019 to 14 in 2022, in Ribble Vally from seven to 15, in Rossendale from 4 annually to five and in Pendle from five tom 16.

In the North-West in the number of insolvencies each year increased by 78 per cent - the second highest in England,

The figures were compiled by the BBC shared data unit and reveal the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses and combined with the consequences of the current cost of living crisis.

Cllr Quesir Mahmood, Blackburn with Darwen Council's growth boss, said: “Blackburn with Darwen continues to carve out a really strong reputation as a place to invest and do business – out-pacing regional and national averages on business growth.

“While 40 per cent may sound like a large increase, we did in fact start from a very low base and so it represents an annual increase of just eight compared to 2019, despite the huge challenges Covid brought.

“As a council, we have a good track record of supporting businesses and we’ll continue to build on that.”

Lancashire County Council's economic development boss Cllr Aidy Riggott said: "Supporting economic growth is a key priority for the county council and we offer a range of support and finance packages to assist business.

"While we strive to support our businesses, the economic landscape is an extremely challenging one due to various factors beyond our control.

"Any business owners who need some additional support during these challenging times are urged to call us on 0800 488 0057."

Insolvency expert Julie Palmer from Begbies Traynor said: “Obviously, it was a really unusual time because of the pandemic, which sort of kept a very strong guard rail on that cliff edge. Businesses were given lots of support to get them through the pandemic.

“Some of those businesses have emerged from the pandemic doing well, but for many others trading is very difficult, particularly those that are in consumer-facing sectors.

“So we only see insolvency figures going one way.”

Michael Weedon from the Federation of Small Business said: "The pronounced rise in retail insolvencies comparing 2019 to 2022 didn’t surprise me.

"We knew during the first year of pandemic there was deliberate business support from the government - we knew when that tailed away, particularly in terms of finance, there was a risk we'd see companies disappearing,"