Companies in England and Wales went bust late last year at the fastest rate since 1991.
Britain is in recession, and more business failures are expected in 2009.
Some 4525 businesses hit the wall in the last three months of 2008 - 54% more than last year and the biggest annual jump since April-June 1991, when Britain was last in recession.
Government figures issued on Friday show a total of 15,535 companies were insolvent in 2008 - 24% more than 2007 and the highest number since 1994.
Personal insolvencies hit a two-year high of 29,444 - 18 percent more than a year earlier.