More businesses are failing in England and Wales than at any point since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009, according to new UK government figures. Separate data from the insolvency experts Begbies Traynor show a 25 per cent increase in the last three months in the number of firms in critical financial distress, defined as facing a county court judgement of more than £5,000 against them. Builders are especially hard hit as the Great British Suburb postpones the Great British Kitchen Extension. The BBC’s Simon Jack collects some explanations, including high living costs curbing consumer spending and high borrowing costs limiting firms’ ability to stay afloat with the help of banks. There’s also “director fatigue”, as owners of SMEs consider the stress and decide they might as well work for someone else. If labour shortages and suppressed trade owing to the country’s brave new relationship with Europe have anything to do with it, the national broadcaster naturally has nothing to say on the matter. And in fairness it must be said not everything about the UK economy is bad. It’s 1.8 per cent bigger now than before the pandemic, and growing faster than France or Germany’s.