This includes more than 17,000 real estate and construction businesses in the last quarter alone, Begbies Traynor reported in its latest Red Flag report.

Within the real estate sector there has been a 19% hike in the number of businesses in significant financial distress compared with the second quarter of 2019, and a 4% uplift between Q1 and Q2 in 2020.

In Q2 2020 58,844 businesses were in major financial trouble compared with 49,549 in Q2 2019, according to Begbies Traynor.

The number of commercial builders in significant financial distress also increased by 6% from 2,466 in Q1 to 2,602 in Q2, while the number of housebuilders rose 4% from 6,633 to 6,871.

Begbies Traynor said the overall increase could have been much higher without the coronavirus pandemic reducing court activity.

The number of winding-up petitions has plummeted 73% between March and May compared with 2019, with only 247 lodged. The number of county court judgements has fallen by more than 40% to 10,766.

Ric Traynor, executive chairman of Begbies Traynor Group, said: “There has been unprecedented company support measures from the Treasury during the pandemic, with both the furlough scheme and access to government-backed funding schemes. But unfortunately, as the chancellor himself has admitted, not all businesses and jobs can be saved.

“Many of these support measures will have simply delayed the inevitable, with the can being firmly kicked down the road. Many businesses will have to deal with a toxic mix of reduced sales and increased levels of debt, plus the complications of dealing with staffing levels that cannot be supported by the level of business going forward.

“Change has been coming for some time before coronavirus, and after one and a half years of consistently increasing levels of distress, this pandemic has accelerated the rate of change. We have already seen some businesses in the affected sectors make significant alterations to their structures, but unfortunately we expect to see many more cease to trade in the coming months.”