Retail tycoon Mike Ashley has been quick to position himself as champion of the high street after buying House of Fraser out of administration. But whether suppliers, pension holders and even landlords will be celebrating the takeover is questionable.

The Sports Direct owner snapped up the struggling department chain for £90m just an hour after entered administration last week, vowing to keep open at least 80% of its UK stores open.

The government’s much-vaunted ‘Northern Powerhouse’ may have turned out to be little more than a catchy phrase scribbled down on the back of a Chancellor’s fag packet. But at least contractors and small suppliers operating in the North of England’s biggest cities are more likely than most to get paid on time.

In a survey carried out by FreeAgent, small traders in Manchester reported the lowest rate of late payments nationwide. According to the findings, 86% of invoices issued by freelancers and microbusinesses in the city are paid by the due date - which compares very favourably to the national average of 52%.

More than a quarter of UK businesses have suffered negative consequences from another company becoming insolvent in the past six months.

A survey carried out by R3 revealed that one in 10 businesses have suffered a ‘very negative’ impact from a customer or supplier becoming insolvent since the start of 2018, while another 16% reported a ‘somewhat negative’ effect.

The figures come after a sharp spike in the number of companies being declared insolvent in the first quarter of this year. Led by the high profile collapses of Carillion, Toys R Us and Maplin, the number of insolvency cases rose an alarming 13% from the previous quarter.

The total value of overdue payments owed to UK small businesses has rocketed by an astonishing £1bn in just six months, according to a new report.

The survey by small business financiers Liberis found that the average SME was waiting on £11,000 in outstanding payments. When extrapolated across the country’s 5.5 million small businesses, that generates a total figure of £14.9bn - up by a billion on findings from just six months ago.

The Church of England fears that it could be forced to sell off some of its prized cathedrals in order to stave off bankruptcy - and is seeking to pass news laws to prevent that happening.

At the General Synod of York - the CoE’s equivalent to Parliament - bishops were presented with a report detailing the financial difficulties of diocese including Exeter and Peterborough, both of which are centred around historic cathedrals.

The concept of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is something of a myth in business. Technically speaking, a verbal understanding between two parties is enforceable under contract law, as long as certain criteria relating to contracts are met.

But there lies the rub. If nothing is ever written down, if everything is done on a nod and a handshake, how do you ever prove things like intention to enter a contract and due consideration by both parties?

The Government’s flagship initiative for helping small businesses when they face unpaid invoices has been dealt something of a PR blow - by the man they appointed to lead the scheme.

Speaking to The Times, Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal, who ran a construction business for 20 years before becoming a Conservative MP, insisted he understood from experience “the real anguish” not being paid on time creates for SME owners.

If there is a way of defrauding your company out of money, someone, somewhere has already thought of it. In fact, they are more than likely already sitting on a hefty pile of cash from the profits they’ve made illegally.

A lot of attention is paid these days to the sophisticated digital scams carried out by international cybercrime syndicates. But that doesn’t mean anyone can afford to take their eye off the ball when it comes to less technologically advanced tactics.

For video game fans of a certain vintage, it was a beautiful dream. A plan to reboot the classic ZX Spectrum console of their childhoods, but this time as a handheld device.

The company behind the proposed ZX Spectrum Vega+, Retro Computers Ltd, launched a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGoGo to finance the project. Enthusiasts rushed to back the plans, based on the promise of receiving one of the consoles hot off the production line upon launch. More than half a million pounds was raised in no time.

There have been plenty of stories in recent times of large corporations going bust, leaving a trail of out-of-pocket suppliers and creditors in their wake.

But it would be wrong to assume this is the kind of thing that only happens in the world of big business. Even down at the ‘grassroots’ level of microbusinesses and one-man-bands operating in niche cottage industries, where the principles of trust and your word being your bond are still believed to hold sway, things can go wrong.

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