For any of us who follow the news, there is no escaping the fact that these are increasingly tough times for business.

In fact, latest figures show that the number of businesses that became insolvent in the first three months of 2019 rose by 6.3 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Worryingly, the total number of new company insolvencies as well as the number of underlying total insolvencies, have reached their highest levels since 2014.

The labour intensive construction, administration and retail sectors, are being particularly hard hit.

The construction sector, which is also notoriously dogged by late payments, has the highest level of insolvencies and was up 0.6 per cent from the 12 months ending Q4 2018.

It’s not all bad news. There was at least a fall of 8.9 per cent in the number of self-employed individuals who suffered from bankruptcies compared to Quarter 4 of 2018, but this remains higher than the same period in the year before.

Overall, these figures are a stark indicator of the immense strain that businesses – particularly small businesses – are currently under.

After all, many are having to grapple with significant uncertainty as a result of the Brexit process, on top of rising costs, with FSB’s own research showing that small businesses are spending around 15 per cent more on the likes of taxes, levies and employment obligations than they were six years ago.

If these conditions remain unaddressed, we will see yet more viable businesses going to the wall.

On a more positive note, a number of recent, independent reports have recognised Worcestershire’s many strengths as a place to do business. It is therefore vital that actions are taken at a national and local level to tackle the uncertainty and rising costs that might otherwise prevent Worcestershire and its businesses from realising their full potential.