Contractors could end up footing the bill after a recruitment agency director who swindled HMRC out of millions in unpaid taxes received a paltry eight-year disqualification.

Adrian Sacco ran Manchester-based Best Employment Services (BES), an umbrella payroll company targeting high-earning contractors in IT, engineering and HR

The 55-year-old, who company records show has been director of a string of liquidated or dissolved payroll agencies over the years, faced investigation by the Insolvency Service after BES was wound up in 2019 owing at least £4.1m in tax to HMRC.

The new head of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has told the government the UK’s late payment culture is hurting the ability of SMEs to deal with spiralling costs.

In an audience at Number 10 Downing Street, Martin McTague, who was appointed chair of the Federation in March, spelled out his concerns about the economic challenges facing the UK’s five million small businesses.

High on the list was the on-going issue of late payments, which McTague said was holding back post-COVID recovery in the SME sector and causing unnecessary financial distress as inflation hit a 40 year high

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for failing to disclose millions of pounds worth of assets in a high-profile bankruptcy swindle.

The tennis ace, 54, was found guilty on four charges at Southwark Crown Court on April 8 2022.

The case was brought in relation to Becker’s bankruptcy dating back to 2017. In June that year, he was declared bankrupt over failure to keep up with repayments on a £3.85m loan from German bank, Arbuthnot Latham.

A pilot scheme in the Netherlands which saw debt recovery specialists brought in to investigate online fraud cases resulted in half the victims getting at least some of their money back.  

The trial focused on incidents where people had made a purchase online but never received the goods they paid for. Working with Dutch police, two debt collection organisations were asked to step in to track down the scammers and work on recovering funds.

In total, a quarter of the victims ended up getting all their money back, while another quarter received some of their money. In total, 87% of the fraudsters either paid back the money or went on to face police charges.

The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) Liz Barclay fears the UK’s late payment crisis “could get worse before it gets better.”

Speaking to the Federation of Small Business’s First Voice podcast, Ms Barclay conceded that more and more small businesses were suffering as a result of late payments “in the current climate”, and was not optimistic about the situation improving any time soon.

One in four freelancers are thinking about ditching self-employment because of problems getting paid on time, according to new research.

In a survey carried out by payment platform WondaPay, 24% of freelancers said they were considering looking for permanent employment because of persistent problems with late payments.

More than 400,000 small businesses in the UK are at direct risk of going under as late payments continue to rise.

Directors found abusing company closure rules to worm their way out of paying creditors can now be disqualified from holding future positions.

In a welcome crackdown on debt avoidance, the government has extended the powers of the Insolvency Service so it can now investigate voluntary dissolution of companies. If directors are found to have shut down their business with the primary motive of wiping off debts, the Insolvency Service can now bring misconduct charges against them.

As well as being disqualified for up to 15 years, directors could be ordered to pay compensation to unpaid creditors.

Fed up of clients who refuse to stick to agreed payment terms? Feel like you're being held to ransom by large customers who insist on making suppliers wait two or three months before they pay for goods or services received?

The government’s Small Business Commissioner (SBC) wants to hear from you. The Commissioner’s office, which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is holding a consultation on SME’s experiences of late payments that closes on 15th December.

As the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep through the economy, latest figures show that SMEs have been hit by a 20% surge in late payments over the past 12 months.

According to research from cloud-based credit management platform Know-It, the total value of overdue invoices UK-based small businesses are now waiting on has leapt to £61 billion, a sharp rise from the no less eye watering figure of £50bn reported in 2020.

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