MORE than 12,500 businesses in the North-East have reported "distress", according to research by a rescue and recovery specialist.

According to Red Flag Alert research, business distress has surged by 31 per cent since the end of 2019, a year-on-year increase of almost 3,000 companies.

The research, from business rescue and recovery specialist, Begbies Traynor, also found that, in the North-East, almost all of the 22 sectors monitored by Red Flag Alert displayed a double-digit increase in "significant" distress year-on-year, ranging from an 8 per cent to a 54 per cent rise.

Some of the worst hit sectors were travel and tourism, hotel and accommodation and real estate and property.

Gillian Sayburn, partner for Begbies Traynor in the North-East, said: “The pandemic meant that 2020 was a devastating year for thousands of businesses as they fell further into financial distress and Q1 2021 seems to be offering little hope of an upturn."

She added: "Unfortunately, for many struggling companies, Government financial help will provide little more than a stay of execution as debt levels become unmanageable and structural changes across many sectors take their toll.”