The Government must do more to stop the grim catalogue of broken companies, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry warned.

It blamed stifling regulation, high energy costs and the pensions crisis for tipping firms over the edge.

Charlotte Ritchie, policy executive, said: "Businesses are facing tough times, with increasing competition from abroad.

"Pensions deficits are deterring potential investors and cost pressures such as high raw material and rocketing energy prices are virtually unprecedented. These are really affecting the UK's businesses, particularly SMEs and less well-established companies.

"We believe the Government should be doing more to create the right environment for businesses to grow and that means cutting red tape and encouraging innovation. Too often businesses are stifled by the raft of regulation they have to comply with that there's simply not enough time or money left to invest in research and development and growth.

"The burden of regulation on businesses is costing over #50 billion and the cost of compliance is in itself prohibitive to the running of a business. Many new small and micro companies are put off growing their business and employing staff b ecause of escalating employment legislation."

She added: "Birmingham has lower than average business survival rates, especially in disadvantaged areas and this can be put down to factors such as the ability to access investment finance, identifying new premises and a lack of skills in managing business growth.

"We need to encourage our natural entrepreneurs and ensure new businesses have access to the right support and services."

Browne Jacobson partner Dominic Offord, who specialises in insolvency and is head of the law firm's business recovery team, also blamed "continuing rising fuel costs which many companies have to absorb rather than pass on to their consumers thus hitting their own cashflow".

He went on: "The ongoing problems in retail and manufacturing are due to the continuation of slowed consumer spending and in the latter case, the continued effects from the demise of companies such as Rover alongside the increasing competition from abroad.

"However, businesses can protect themselves better - they need to become more aware of the potential risks to their businesses that could lead to insolvency. In addition, they need to be extremely careful in relation to their own finances, not stretching their business too far.

"If however, their business is in trouble, they also need to recognise that formal insolvency isn't necessarily inevitable and act quickly to seek advice."