There has been a surge is the number of companies going bust in Watford and surrounding areas during the coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

Businesses were forced to shut up shop when the lockdown was brought into effect in March – and since then there has been a big rise in businesses filing for insolvency in some areas of South West Hertfordshire.

That is according to the BBC Shared Data Unit, which analysed data from the London Gazette, the official journal of record that carries notices of corporate insolvencies.

It found that in Watford, there were 38 businesses that filed for insolvency between March 24 and June 30.

That is more than double what it was in the same period in 2019, when there were just four companies which filed for insolvency.

Dacorum also saw a large rise in companies going under, with the number having increased from three to 46.

Neighbouring Three Rivers also saw a rise of insolvencies, with the number having increased from eight last year to 18 in 2020.

Not all areas saw an increase though, with Hertsmere having seen a drop in companies going insolvent between March and June – from 44 in 2019 to 24 in 2020.

And analysis shows around 5,000 companies have filed for insolvency since March, down compared with 6,500 last year.

The drop follows a spike in March around the start of lockdown.

Experts have pointed to the billions in emergency support for businesses and changes to insolvency law that may have contributed to the drop, but warned the true impact of the lockdown is unlikely to appear for months as businesses try to adjust to social distancing and other challenges.

Institute for Fiscal Studies economist Stuart Adam said social distancing measures, debts and “weaker demand” during a recession could all have an impact.

He said: “Whether the current package of support will be the last word remains to be seen: it would not be a surprise to see the Chancellor come back with more as the picture becomes clearer.

“There will also be new business opportunities, created both by changes in consumer demand and by the various government support schemes. Since many firms will undoubtedly shrink or go out of business and jobs will be lost – especially as the furlough scheme comes to an end – it will be vital over the coming months and years for others to start up or expand, to fill the gap and employ those left out of work.”

An HM Treasury spokesperson said the government has outlined a three point plan for supporting businesses through the crisis and “spurring” the UK’s economic recovery.

They said: “The first stage of this was our £160 billion support package for business that included our job retention scheme, which has protected more than nine million jobs and has been extended until the end of October.

“Earlier this month we announced the second stage of our plan which aims to support, protect, and create jobs across the UK. It includes a 15 percent VAT cut for hospitality, leisure and retail, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus, and job creation through investment in greening homes and buildings.

 “As the economy re-opens, we will continue to look at how to adjust our support in a way that ensures people can get back to work, protecting both the UK economy and the livelihoods of people across the country.”