THE number of firms in the West Midlands, including Worcestershire, at a higher risk of insolvency has grown from a year ago new research has revealed.

February figures compiled by insolvency and restructuring body R3’s Midlands branch show that overall 36.4 per cent of West Midlands firms currently have an elevated insolvency risk, which equates to 101,100 local businesses.

In February 2017, the proportion was one-in-four, or 24 per cent representing 64,501 businesses.

However the good news for the region is that West Midlands manufacturing businesses are outperforming their regional counterparts.

The figures compiled using Bureau Van Dijk’s Fame database show that around one in four, 28.5 per cent, of manufacturing businesses in the region are at higher than normal risk of insolvency.

This is the lowest percentage in the UK outside of Northern Ireland, which registered 28.2 per cent.

However the news is less positive for the region’s transport and haulage sector which has a higher proportion of firms at above average risk than any of its regional counterparts, with the exception of Yorkshire. Around two in five West Midlands companies - 44.9 per cent - are at higher than normal risk, which is more than four percentage points above the UK average of 40.2 per cent.

R3 Midlands chairman Chris Radford said: “There are glimmers of regional positivity to be seen in these latest R3 statistics, but the overall picture is a cause for concern.

“The percentage of West Midlands businesses at greater than usual risk of insolvency was higher in January and February this year than at any point in 2017.

“All too frequently, it is not until a company is on the brink of insolvency that its owners seek financial advice.

“If businesses sought professional help sooner, then far more could be done to help them survive.”