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.
Latest official figures have confirmed what most people in business already suspected - the UK economy isn’t looking in too great a shape. Growth has stalled to a virtual standstill, just 0.1%, following the worst quarterly performance in five years in the first three months of 2018.
Confidence is low amongst both businesses and consumers, with investment and household spending both down - two factors which, of course, feed one another. In addition, the early months of 2018 have witnessed a succession of big-name company failures, from high street chains like Toys R Us and Maplin, to public sector outsourcing giant Carillion.
It seems that no news is good news when it comes to tales of insolvency and corporate debt across the UK economy at the moment. Maternity and baby specialist Mothercare is the latest name to join the swelling ranks of high street retail chains teetering on the brink of collapse.
Mothercare has announced plans to close a third of its stores - a total of 50 outlets - as part of a proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to offset losses of £72.8m in the last financial year. If approved by creditors, the move is expected to see up to 800 jobs cut.
The Parliamentary report into the collapse of disgraced outsourcing giant Carillion has certainly pulled no punches.
Amongst the tastiest soundbites, MPs have accused bosses of ‘stuffing their mouths with gold’ while the company’s finances floundered, summing up their behaviour as ‘recklessness, hubris and greed’.
Small business owners want the UK government to outlaw late payments as new figures reveal that half of SMEs face financial stress due to not being paid on time.
In a new survey carried out by YouGov and reported by The Sunday Times, 61 per cent of small business owners strongly support the suggestion that the government should legislate to force companies to pay suppliers on time.
The idea put forward in the survey was to create a mandatory 45-day payment term for all invoices. Not only would such a move strengthen the hand of small suppliers and contractors when payments become late, it would also curb the practice of big businesses imposing punitive conditions, such as the notorious 120-day terms collapsed outsourcing giant Carillion insisted on.
Just 11 per cent of firms with fewer than 250 employees are opposed to the idea of legislation.
It sounds like something out of a Hollywood gangster film - a $50 million fraud, an attempt to launder the proceeds by buying a Picasso painting, and an undercover FBI agent who foiled it all.It sounds like something out of a Hollywood gangster film - a $50 million fraud, an attempt to launder the proceeds by buying a Picasso painting, and an undercover FBI agent who foiled it all.
But no, this is a real-life story. In place of gangsters, you can substitute stockbrokers whose crime was illegally fiddling share prices in a worldwide scam. After being caught red-handed, their actions led to the collapse of the firm they worked for, London-based Beaufort Securities, which was declared insolvent by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in March.
Contractors and SME suppliers in the UK could finally be in line for legal protection from losses in the event of a client collapsing.
In the wake of several high-profile insolvency cases such as that of Carillion, which raised fears that suppliers could be left billions out of pocket in unpaid invoices, the government has launched a review of corporate governance regulations for companies entering insolvency.
Fears over the future of embattled toy retailer Toys R Us continue to mount after its UK business announced it was to seek a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to handle a mounting debt crisis.
The company, which is thought to have made a trading loss for seven out of the past eight years, has announced plans to close a minimum of 26 stores in the UK, with a loss of 800 jobs.
Wholesaler Palmer & Harvey has entered administration after failing to restructure significant debts owed to suppliers. The Palmer & Harvey Group, the UK’s fifth-largest privately owned business and the country’s largest tobacco supplier, had been in takeover talks with Carlyle, the private equity firm.
But after talks broke down, directors from several Palmer & Harvey group companies made an application to London’s High Court to enter administration to help ease an increasingly unmanageable debt burden.
Wholesaler Palmer & Harvey has entered administration after failing to restructure significant debts owed to suppliers.
The Palmer & Harvey Group, the UK’s fifth-largest privately owned business and the country’s largest tobacco supplier, had been in takeover talks with Carlyle, the private equity firm.
If your business doesn’t lay the right groundwork when working with customers, you’re leaving yourself wide open to the risk that you’ll never get paid at all. Time and again, we hear of well-meaning companies putting in in hours of labour - and investing into raw materials - only to find that their customer doesn’t have the means to pay the bill.
According to National Statistics, 4,547 companies entered insolvency in Q2 2017. And over the next few years, we foresee a turbulent time for small companies which could increase this figure significantly. If you don’t yet have full understanding of the companies you're dealing with, and their creditworthiness, your business could be just a few short months from a serious cashflow crisis.
Safe Collections is pleased to offer half-price credit reports from Experian. You pay just £9.99 to check the official credit report for your client; a small fee, but a big weight off your mind.
It is every supplier’s worst nightmare. You have finally secured a lucrative contract with a big name global brand, giving you what feels like a sense of security and assurance for future earnings.
Then, all of a sudden, the unthinkable happens - the company goes bust. From a position of relative comfort, you now find yourself at the back of a long queue chasing unpaid invoices you may well never recover.
Depending on how reliant your business is on that one big client, you could easily find yourself in jeopardy too, unable to absorb the loss.
Vertu Corporation Limited, the well-known British manufacturer of luxury smartphones, has finally filed for insolvency after being passed between owners since 2012.
The company was known for its spangly, jewel-encrusted handsets which came with equally ludicrous price tags. Its entry-level handset cost a cool £6,500; prices stretched to more than £250,000 for the garish Vertu Signature Cobra.