Have you heard the phrase, “You cannot change the past, but you may influence the future?  All too often we blame what has happened rather just accept that it has happened, and we need to address matters going forward.


The past 14 months, or so have been arguably the most challenging any of us have experienced but June brings forward two very important dates:

  • Assuming the Government road map stays on course, the 21st is expected to see the end of restrictions and a return to normal life.
  • It is widely believed the (thrice) extended deadline on various interim restrictions and amendments invoked under the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act (“CIGA”) will end on 30 June.  These include a limitation on serving statutory demands, presenting winding up petitions and landlords taking recovery action for rental arrears.


In addition to the CIGA provisions, many businesses will now be receiving notification that repayments of the “Bounce Back” loans are falling due, while the employment furlough scheme is set to end in the autumn.

All the above events will serve to impact on company cash flow, while many will face recovery action from those debtors, frustrated they could not take enforcement action during the CIGA restriction period.  This includes HM Revenue & Customs where enforcement action has been limited to tax evasion and other limited taxation matters.  It is little wonder the Government have extended the restriction period.

Many will be aware of the phrase, “If you fail to plan then plan to fail.”  Unfortunately, all too often, people are great at what they do as a profession, but the accounting/bookkeeping side is seen as a necessary evil.  That may well be the view but if you had a flat tyre, would you carry on driving or stop and do that necessary evil of changing the wheel?

The prediction is UK will endure a short, but sharp economic recession.  As with previous economic challenges, those prepared are generally the ones who survive, so how do you promote the chances of you being one of those survivors?  Here are a few points that I see when assisting companies in financial difficulties:


  1. Put together a cash flow forecast (ask your accountant to help if preferred).  When you have this, check actual trading results with the forecast, at least on a monthly basis in order to compare projections with the actual results.


  1. Credit control.  Remembering cash is king and a good customer is a paying customer, and your customers are likely to be facing similar post COVID issues as you.  Unpaid debts do not pay the wages!


  1. With credit control comes setting and keeping to credit limits.  If you set a credit limit of (say) £5,000 for a customer and an order comes in that exceeds that limit, be bold enough to inform them you cannot entertain that latest order until some of the older invoices are paid.  Yes, some may grumble but your recovery time will improve.


  1. Where appropriate, consider negotiating longer debt repayment terms with creditors.  The Government anticipate there should be a lot of forbearance demonstrated by creditors (including HM Revenue & Customs) as, generally speaking and within reason, they would rather recover their debt than find they are on a list of creditors of an insolvency.


  1. Avoid the temptation of “Corrective trading.”  What I mean is, for example, do not think hiking your prices will help you recover sales income lost during the COVID restrictions.  While reasonable increases maybe acceptable, pushing that barrier too high will inevitably lose you custom.


  1. If in any doubt, seek independent and professional advice, whether that is from your accountant, solicitor, or an insolvency practitioner.  These advisors are there to assist you and steer you in the right direction so use them and use them at an early stage.


Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact me at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at

What superpower would you have if you could?

What superpower would you have if you could?  Invisibility? Being able to fly? Teleportation?  Or how about being able to re-write the law to suit yourself and ensure you are always on the right side?  That’s exactly what the government has done with two measures in the Finance Act 2020.


The first is the position where HM Revenue & Customs rank for dividend purposes.  For insolvencies commencing after 1 December 2020, HMRC shall rank as a secondary preferential creditor for the majority of taxes owed by the insolvent party where that party has acted as a collector of taxes.  This includes PAYE, VAT, CIS and employee’s NI contributions (but not any penalties associated with those debts).  “Secondary preferential” means their preferential status ranks after existing preferential claims (generally employee claims for wages and accrued holiday pay) but in priority to the holder of floating charge security.  HMRC will remain an unsecured creditor for other taxes including corporation tax and employer’s NI contributions.  To summarise, HMRC have therefore jumped to pretty much the top of the priority order in one fell swoop.


As a direct result of this, The Association of Business Recovery Professionals estimate that future new lending by banks will be £1 billion less, making recovery and turnaround harder.  To make things worse, the ability to use a formal insolvency vehicle (such as a company voluntary arrangement) may no longer be a viable option asthe unpaid taxes rank ahead of the general body of creditors, reducing the amount available to unsecured creditors.  Furthermore, it is likely there will be a significant HMRC debt as generally HMRC are the first creditor businesses and individuals stop paying – indeed this is one of the Government’s main reasons for introducing the measure.


The second new measure contained within the new law is where HMRC can issue personal liability notices against company directors following tax avoidance and evasion penalties and repeated insolvencies.


There are various conditions which must be met before HMRC can issue personal liability notices, but all involve scenarios where the company is insolvent (or likely to be).  In the tax avoidance and evasion cases, the directors can be held liable for all of the tax avoided (and any penalties as a result).  However, in the circumstances following repeated insolvencies the directors can be held liable for debts of the failed companies as well as for any future tax debt of a new company.


Before you come over all Lance Corporal Jones (Don’t Panic!) this legislation is aimed at those who act in a deliberate manner of tax avoidance/evasion.  It is not aimed at those who have missed the payment deadline for this month’s PAYE (provided you do still pay that is) or your overall circumstances demonstrate, as a director, you have acted honestly and fairly to creditors as a whole.


Having said that, the key message that should be derived from this legislation is if you feel there is an increasing difficulty in managing the company tax affairs, or liabilities as a whole, then seek early advice.  Creditors, including HMRC, are generally understanding where they learn of a possible issue at an early stage rather than wait until the need for enforcement procedures commences.  In addition, the earlier advice is sought the more options there are available.


Anyone with an insolvency related issue can contact PBC on 01604 212150.  Our initial consultations are always free, confidential, impartial and no obligation.

Jamie Cochrane

Personal Insolvency Rates – Women Overtake Men


Every quarter the Insolvency Service produce statistics which confirm how many businesses fail, broken down by insolvency type:, liquidations (whether they are compulsory or voluntary) administration or company voluntary arrangements (CVAs).

At the same time similar statistics are released for individuals, divided into bankruptcies, debt relief orders or individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs). There are very few details about the number of debt management plans.

When these are released, the details will always make that day’s news and as is normal with the media they focus on the worst points.

In general terms, corporate insolvency appointments have been failing from their recent highs reached during the financial crash in 2007/08 (although failures were much higher in the early 1990’s). Personal insolvency appointments have also been falling, although in the last year there has seen a steady rise. Historically men have always had higher rates of insolvency than women but since 2014, women have overtaken men.

Once a year the Insolvency Service produce more detailed personal insolvency statistics. The main headlines are:

  • The total insolvency rate increased for the first time since 2009, and increased in all regions of England and Wales between 2015 and 2016.
  • The North East continued to have the highest insolvency rates, while London had the lowest.
  • Nine out of ten local authorities with the lowest insolvency rates were in London or the South East, whilst seven out of the ten areas with the highest rates were located in coastal areas.
  • Insolvency rates increased for all age groups except 55 and over, with those aged between 18-44 showed the biggest rises.


When I review these figures I am always interested in the details. For example Corby has been in the top 10 of the worst local authority areas in terms of personal insolvency rates.  As mentioned above the majority are seaside towns which have their own issues due to the seasonal economies in which they operate.  Being based in Northampton we are aware that Corby still has elements of poor families struggling to make ends meet in low paid jobs.  In our experience these will often be cases in which credits cards and loans have been built up, possibly in a period when there has been a loss of income or ill health or just simple overspending.  Commonly once the debt has been built up they find it almost impossible to repay the debt because of the low income and so a downward spiral begins.

So what can the individual do?

The first thing required is to be honest with yourself and the situation. Sit down and summarise who you owe money to and how much.  Next produce a budget detailing your income and necessary spending.  Hopefully this should leave a surplus and you can then plan how to reduce your debt using this surplus.

You may find you need additional help and PBC have always offered help to individuals and will outline all the options open to them from refinancing, a debt management plan, IVA’s and bankruptcy, alone with many others. Our advice is simple: take action as soon as possible rather than leaving it too late.

Initial meeting are free of charge and confidential. We hope to understand your position, answer your questions and lay out the options available to you in order for you to consider which is the best way forward for you.

UPDATED TOTAL- Charity Walk Completed!

Kym and Jamie completed their 80 mile charity walk for Ronald McDonald Houses earlier this month. They have currently raised £2,047 and have therefore exceeded their amended target of £2,000, which itself was double their original goal.


Kym’s daily blogs, reproduced below, provide the highlights of their four days walking:


Day 1 blog: I’ve seen Wembley Stadium, Regents Park, Grenfell Tower (so sad), nesting moorhens with chicks and swans with cygnets, a green woodpecker, some handsome dogs (shame about some of the owners) and a lorry driver about 3ft away mount the pavement and take out a bollard (male naturally)! I’ve learned that London cyclists are rude and my efforts to teach them manners whilst amusing for me, were largely wasted, Jamie can’t multi task and his attempts to look at his glasses while holding a drink meant that I would end up wearing it! I’ve learned that Billie-Marie is back in Alder Hey which has made us more determined and that there are a lot of generous people out there, thank you so much to everyone who has donated. Day 1 done we’re on our way home tired and dirty. Day 2 starts at 7am tomorrow as we had to cut today a little shorter than planned because Jamie somehow has managed to lock his lovely wife Naomi out of their home!


Day 2 blog: Tough today as the heat made it hard! Today we’ve seen 3 herons, a red kite and a couple of guys appearing to be picking nits from each other’s hair! It was a more picturesque walk today along the canal path, a lot less pavement pounding. Well-mannered cyclists, friendly people except one rude guy at Watford where we also saw the days first builders bum and thankfully the only one! Is that really necessary? Must be quite uncomfortable and draughty! Jamie is suffering nasty blisters today and I have put the blister pack “in a safe place” but can’t remember where! Sorry J! Our other silly moment was forgetting to pay for parking in Northampton! Oops! Half way through now time wise though a few more miles to cover the next 2 days so early start tomorrow for day 3! We can do this!!


Day 3 blog: Off to an early start today at Tring. As my back and shoulders are surprisingly sorer than anything else I’ve decided to ditch the back pack, use a bum bag and let Jamie carry the weight! Not sure this look will catch on again so may try to up the game tomorrow and rock in socks and sandals as well! The new waist attire has taken a soaking with Jamie’s 2nd throw of a drink over me as has my phone! Today I’ve seen the most beautiful countryside and my senses have been assaulted by the less pleasant aromas that come with it! I’ve seen horses running together, a couple of boat cats, stunning wildlife and a doberman belly flop into the canal to chase geese which naturally flew away leaving the dog unable to get back out again! Help was at hand and all ended well but it was funny. Everyone we’ve met has been lovely despite Jamie’s groans of pain about his blisters! In fairness they are really bad poor lad. My legs are feeling it now but we’re almost there and I’m determined to finish even if I do so on my hands and knees.

Day 4 blog: Off to an early start again and just finished! Woohoo 80 miles over 4 days completed with lots of laughs and groans of pain along the way. Today I managed to spill my own drink on me, thought I’d give Jamie a break from doing it! We’ve had donations from strangers including the owners of Zack the greyhound who took a liking to me, seen beautiful views including common terns, had a close encounter with a heron and learned that the names Rosie and Jane appear on more barges than any other name. I have asked myself over the last few days why I accepted this fundraising challenge from someone almost 30 years younger than me but we’ve done it! Would I do it again, hell yes! Growing old is compulsory growing up and acting your age is optional and the latter is my choice and the way I plan to continue. Most importantly, we’ve almost hit our target for Ronald McDonald House which is an amazing charity that gives so much help to families of sick children, more than I can begin to explain. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated and to you all for your support and encouragement, much appreciated.

To donate, please click here.

PBC appointed joint administrators of The Castle (Wellingborough) Ltd

PBC logo

The Castle (Wellingborough) Limited, operators of The Castle Theatre in Wellingborough, entered into administration on Wednesday 13 April 2016, with Gary Pettit and Gavin Bates of PBC being appointed joint administrators.


The directors were compelled to act in the best interests of the company’s creditors following the recent announcement by Wellingborough Council that they had terminated the contract to operate The Castle Theatre. Legal advice is being sought on this matter and nothing further can be added at this time regarding the administration and its circumstances.


All performances and other community activities will, as far as possible, continue to go ahead and staff and performers will be paid by the administrator through ticket sales and merchandise revenue. Gary Pettit, joint administrator, commented “This is very sad news for the Wellingborough community and, whilst we are working hard to find a solution so that The Castle can remain a focus in Wellingborough, we would encourage you all to continue to support the theatre.”


The full level of debt is still being quantified, however it is known that the company inherited a £500,000 pension shortfall and this is their biggest outstanding liability. All known creditors will be notified of the administration and registration procedure within the next 5 working days and any creditors who have not received information from PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency, the appointed administrators, by Thursday 21st April should telephone 01604 212150.


There are 38 staff involved at The Castle Theatre and, although there are no immediate plans for redundancies, sadly this cannot be guaranteed.