The number of businesses who had their assets seized in order to settle outstanding debt has more than doubled in the past year, according to an Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Asset seizures by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) increased to 1,592 for the 2015/16 financial year – compared to 619 for 2014/15.

The jump in asset seizures reflects an attempt to recover £42.6m (€50.3m) worth of outstanding debt, which almost trebled from the 2014/15 figure of £15.3m.

Online business finance site Funding Options argued that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to find themselves in this situation, due to a more volatile cash flow.

It claimed a lack of awareness of debt financing options made SMEs more vulnerable to asset seizure.

Conrad Ford, chief executive officer of Funding Options, said: “Often small business owners aren’t aware of the many options available to them outside traditional bank lending…viable routes for SMEs to access the capital to need.

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“With pressure on HMRC to increase tax receipts, it’s becoming increasing important that businesses make sure their tax affairs are in order and bills are paid on time – finance can play a large part in ensuring that this is the case.”