Oxford: More businesses in city in ‘financial distress’, survey shows

Continuing economic and political uncertainty has left a growing number of businesses across Oxford in ‘significant’ financial distress, according to a new report from Begbies Traynor.

Oxford saw a 3% increase in the number of businesses struggling between Q2 and Q3 2019 – now 1,296 – which is also an increase of 8% on the same period in 2018.

The Red Flag Alert data for Q3 2019, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, reveals that nationally, 489,000 UK businesses are in significant financial distress, with the real estate and property, construction, retail and travel sectors the most severely affected.

This accounts for 22,000 more business in significant distress since the same period last year. Since the EU referendum in 2016, there are now 139,000 more businesses facing financial difficultly – an increase of 40%.

When looking at sectors in Oxford that are in financial difficulty, businesses in the telecoms & IT and construction sectors are in the most distress – increasing 8% and 4% respectively between Q2 and Q3 2019.

More positively, the figures also revealed that some sectors in Oxford are showing tentative signs of stability during the same time period, with the media sector recording a decrease of 4% of businesses in distress.

Commenting on the figures, Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor in Oxford, said: “Three years on from the referendum, the latest Red Flag research highlights just how businesses are struggling as a result of uncertainty. Much investment is on hold as businesses wait to see what the state of play will be post-Brexit and whether the agreements or contracts they currently have in place will still be valid following the expected withdrawal. This is stifling growth both in Oxford and nationwide.

“What’s clear is that until businesses and consumers alike are given clarity on the economic situation post-Brexit, stagnation will remain the norm and productivity will continue to suffer.”