Local authorities have been urged to manage their debt collection processes more responsibly, in order to cut down on the 1.8 million instances each year in which bailiffs are hired to recover overdue council tax payments and similar arrears.

Figures from the Money Advice Trust show substantial regional variation in the use of bailiffs by local authorities - but hint at a worryingly high prevalence of bailiffs being used to collect county court judgments nationwide.

Otium Corporation Ltd have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, particularly in a Daily Record report of how they left one aerospace contractor out of pocket by £9,000 after their payments to him simply stopped.

Stuart Jack was on a one-year contract to work at BAE Systems in Prestwick, but his payments did not come directly from BAE - instead, they went through Otium Corporation's Ltd’s service address in Batley, West Yorkshire.

A recently published Late Payments Report makes 11 recommendations that MPs believe could help small businesses to receive what they are owed more promptly from their big-business customers.

MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams convened and chaired a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the issue of prompt payment for small businesses, which heard evidence from several large FTSE companies, as well as affected SMEs.

Have you heard the one about the Croydon conman who paid for his shopping in Harrods with a £245,000 dud cheque?

It's no joke - 49-year-old Philip Buffett of Fairfield Road faces a jail term for fraud after paying with a cheque from a closed account for goods including a £183,000 Hublot watch.

Ireland has announced the wording of its Code of Conduct on Prompt Payments, a voluntary charter similar to that in place in the UK.

Small business minister John Perry announced the Code on July 1st; it is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

A former West Yorkshire Police Detective Sergeant has been convicted of money laundering after standing accused of operating or being involved in the operation of fraudulent debt elimination companies and escort agencies.

DS Christopher Taylor ran Wakefield-based First Debt Recovery, established in 2008 and supposedly drawing on his experience with the CID and Fraud Squad.

However, it was later alleged that First Debt Recovery had been laundering money for several businesses operated by Anthony Muldoon, including five bogus debt elimination firms and a total of 28 escort agencies.

Superman is BACK with the cinematic release of Man of Steel, and it got us to thinking about whether or not the Kryptonian comicbook hero would be a worthy addition to the Safe Collections team.

We know he'd be a bit unpredictable - always nipping off into the nearest phone booth or flying off to save the world - but given that he'd be saving our skins in the process, we're willing to make some allowances.

SMEs in the north-east are stop-gapping their cash flow problems by turning to pawnbrokers, according to a report in local news publication The Journal.

With bank lending hard to come by and many other conventional forms of finance also suffering during the downturn, sole traders and SMEs are taking desperate measures to cover costs.

Overdue payments by British businesses have been improving steadily over the past two years, and are now settled two days faster than in 2011, according to analyst D&B.

Two years ago, the average late payment was made 17 days beyond agreed terms, a figure that has now improved to 15 days, but has as far to go again if it is to match 2006's average of just 13 days.

Remember our old friend the Supply Chain Finance Scheme? Well, in the past couple of weeks, it's been making headlines once again - this time thanks to Carillion, the facilities management and construction services company.

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