According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of companies applying to be wound up in England and Wales dropped by three per cent in 2007. Latest figures indicate 11,791 companies folded last year due to insolvency or other problems.

The figures also showed a drop in the number of creditor's petitions by three per cent down to 20,156. If they wish creditors can apply to the courts to make companies wind up, or to make individuals bankrupt.

The figures for wind-ups varied across the country, with company wind-ups increasing by 13 per cent in the northwest of England, and falling by 23 per cent in south east England.

Paul Stanley from the insolvency firm Begbies Traynor said he was surprised by the drop in company wind ups in 2007.

Speaking to the BBC, Stanley said, We saw more activity at the end of last year than we did in the whole of the first nine months. I would expect the figures to start to rise in January and February.