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The level of business distress in the North has hit a record low, according to new research by insolvency trade body R3.

Only 5% of businesses in the region are reporting any of the key signs of distress – down from 19% since the last survey in September and significantly lower than the 68% recorded at the end of 2010.

Less than 1% of businesses reported decreased sales while just 1% had had to make redundancies and only 4% were regularly using their maximum overdraft.

The long-running survey also found that growth was at a new high, with 78% of northern businesses reporting at least one growth indicator – up from 72% in September and topping the previous record of 77% in September 2014. Looking to the year ahead, 34% expected to increase trade while 64% expected it to stay the same.

Richard Wolff, North West chair of R3 and Head of Corporate Recovery and Insolvency at law firm JMW, said: “The level of business distress has plummeted since our survey began just over five years ago. It would appear that the economy is now in a much better state and we have seen a reasonable level of growth. Record low interest rates, reductions in fuel prices and low inflation are all helping to keep down costs and are easing the pressure on businesses.

“It’s particularly positive to see that the decline in sales has been halted, with almost everyone expecting business to increase or at least to maintain sales at the same levels.

“However, the volatility in the stock market, driven by worries over China, could be an early indication that businesses might be facing a more uncertain economic climate in 2016.”