Personal insolvencies in Scotland up by nearly 30% year-on-year

The number of Scots who are in serious financial difficulty has increased by 29.2 per cent in the last quarter of 2018-2019 (January-March) compared with the first three months of 2018, new figures show. This is despite unemployment being at a historic low and an increase in wages.

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) reported personal insolvencies rose from 2,533 in the first three months of 2018 to 3,272 in the same quarter of 2019; the highest quarterly figure recorded since 2013. Some of the suggested reasons for the increase were high levels of household debt and the general economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.

There were 1,223 bankruptcies – also known as sequestration – awarded during this quarter, nine less than the previous quarter (1,232), but a 14.4 per cent rise on the same quarter of 2017-18 (1,069). Protected Trust Deeds (PTDs) was the main contributor to the overall rise in personal insolvencies, increasing nearly 40 per cent year-on-year from 1,464 to 2,049. PTDs have been on the rise since the January-March 2015.

In the first three months of 2019, there was a 22.1 per cent uplift in the number of people entering the Scottish government’s Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), which allows people to try to put their finances in order without going into insolvency. This figure has risen from 489 in 2017-18 to 597 in 2018-19. A total of £9.4 million was repaid through DAS during this quarter, an increase of 0.6 per cent on the £9.3 million recorded in 2017-18.

Additionally, there were 2,544 Debt Payment Programmes (DPPs) approved in 2018-19, 226 more than the previous year. A total of £37.1 million was repaid from debtors under DAS during 2018-19 compared with £37.6 million in 2017-18. In the first three months of 2019, 597 DPPs were approved under DAS, 108 more than the figure recorded in the same quarter of 2017-18 (489).

The figures mean personal insolvencies, bankruptcies and protected trust deeds (PTDs) have now risen for the third consecutive year but remain below levels seen previously between 2006-07 and 2013-14.

Corporate insolvencies in Scotland also rose by 34 per cent compared with the previous quarter (from 209 to 280), and eight per cent compared with the same quarter last year. The AiB reported 259 Scottish registered companies became insolvent or entered receivership in the first three months of 2017-18, compared with 280 in the same period of 2018-19.

Over the year, the number of corporate insolvencies increased by 9.3 per cent, from 884 in 2017-18 to 966 in 2018-19. The majority of corporate insolvencies are compulsory liquidations, an uplift of 34.2 per cent from 149 in January-March 2018 to 200 in the same period of this year. There were 137 member’s voluntary liquidations in the last quarter of 2018-19, 15 more than the previous quarter, and a 15 per cent increase (18 more) year-on-year.

Scottish government’s business secretary, Jamie Hepburn, concluded on the findings:

“In this climate it is more important than ever that people encountering financial difficulty seek early advice and the appropriate solution.

The Scottish government urges those in financial distress to obtain money advice at the earliest possibility in order to take control of their finances and ensure the right debt solution is found to suit their circumstances.”

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For expert advice about insolvencies, bankruptcies and liquidations in Scotland, speak with one of our experts today.


Business Financial Distress UK

CVAs

Landlords vs CVAs: The battle of UK retail

CVAs have been in the news again recently as a number of High Street retailers have invoked the procedure to stave off administration.

Although landlords have voiced fairly negative views of CVAs, ultimately, pragmatism triumphed as landlords accepted the House of Fraser proposals

Era ends as House of Fraser to axe 31 stores and 6,000 jobs

The 169-year-old department store chain accepts CVA as part of rescue deal, But away from the High Street, CVAs remain as unpopular as ever here in Scotland

YEAR ENGLAND / WALES SCOTLAND
2017 292 3
2016 346 13
2015 364 4
2014 554 14
2013 571 16

I seem to be in a minority of one, but it saddens me that such a powerful and flexible restructuring tool has not found favour here. No other insolvency process more fully embraces the rescue culture than a CVA.

Directors can put forward any proposal they wish. The only restriction (besides illegality!) is that they cannot propose a compromise of a secured debt – so debts secured by standard security, floating charge or a leasing or HP agreement – without the consent of that lender. Small companies can take advantage of a statutory moratorium to provide a breathing space to fine tune proposals or start the organisational restructuring which often has to accompany the financial restructuring provided by the CVA.

So why haven’t we embraced the small company CVA in Scotland?

Many professionals say they don’t work, and research which was recently commissioned by R3, the body representing the restructuring profession, seems to back that up. That research identified 65% of CVAs which commenced in 2013 as terminating without achieving their stated aims.

But 18.5% successfully completed and a further 16.5% were ongoing. From my own experience of CVAs, even those which do not complete deliver a better outcome for creditors than either administration or liquidation.

SECTOR LIQUIDATION CVA
RESTAURANT NIL 50p in £ Secured

16.6p in £ Unsecured

RETAIL 10p in £ 42p
SERVICES 12p 32p

 

CVAs are not an easy option. Many do fail.

So what factors lead to success?

Duration

My advice to directors is to consider a maximum duration of 36 months. Most CVAs depend to some extent on contributions from cash flow. It’s unrealistic and unhelpful to fetter cash flow for longer – all this means is that the company can’t invest, can’t adapt to change, whether technological or otherwise, in its market space.

Besides, forward forecasting for more than 3 years for companies at the small end of the SME spectrum becomes largely a matter of guess work!

Management Commitment

Implementing a restructuring plan entails making some hard decisions so the commitment and dedication of the management team is vital. In my experience, that often comes from the desire to preserve reputation and a sense of duty. Most directors entering into a CVA have a desire to preserve their good relationships with employees and suppliers, many of whom have worked alongside them for a number of years.

Cause of Distress

When assessing whether a CVA might work, I look to establish whether there is a sound core business. If a business is in terminal decline, because its market has moved or for some other strategic reason, it is not an obvious candidate for a CVA. If, however, it has suffered a significant bad debt or some issue in its supply chain, the financial restructuring of a CVA can make the difference between survival and failure.

I believe that, used wisely, CVAs are a useful tool in the armoury both of insolvency professionals and company directors.

If you would like advice on CVAs, please contact Maureen Leslie.


Provisional Liquidator Appointed to T Graham & Son (Builders) Limited

On Friday 1st June 2018 Keith Anderson of mlm Solutions was appointed as Provisional Liquidator to T Graham & Son (Builders) Limited.

T Graham & Son (Builders) Limited, a long established building contractor based in Langholm in the Scottish Borders, ceased trading on 31st May 2018.

The company employed 30 staff all of whom have been made redundant with the exception of 5 employees whom have been retained to assist the liquidators.

Keith Anderson, Director at mlm Solutions and Provisional Liquidator T Graham & Son (Builders) Limited to said:

“The Company has seen a fall in turnover and increasing price competition over the last 12 months. This coupled with delays in completing contracts has resulted in significant trading losses and severe cash flow difficulties. We are working with the employees and liaising with other agencies to protect the interests of the employees at this very difficult time. Our focus will then be on disposing the company’s assets in order to maximise the recoveries for the creditors. All suppliers will be contacted in due course.”


Research Reveals Insolvency Domino Effect

New research has revealed that as many as 26% of UK companies have suffered a hit to their finances following the insolvency of a customer, supplier or debtor in the last six months.

According to the research, which was conducted by R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body, the financial impact of the insolvency of another business was described as “very negative” by 10% of respondents, and as “somewhat negative” by 16%.

The figures are evidence of the so-called ‘domino effect’, where one company’s insolvency will increase the insolvency risk for others.

In Q1 2018, following a spate of high profile insolvencies involving large companies such as Carillion or Toys R Us, underlying insolvencies climbed 13% from the previous quarter.

“No business exists in isolation, and every headline-grabbing corporate insolvency will have consequences for numerous other enterprises,” explained Andrew Tate, spokesperson for R3. “In the worst-case scenario, the loss of a vital business relationship can lead to a company’s own insolvency in turn – the ‘domino effect’ in action. Recently, we have seen a string of insolvencies of high-profile companies, from Carillion to Toys R Us, which will have caused upheaval at other companies.”

“Often, the problems caused by the domino effect are ones that firms are able to weather, albeit with a hit to future turnover and profitability,” he added. “The insolvency and restructuring profession has a role to play in helping to steady firms at risk of the domino effect, a task that would be easier with access to a more flexible set of tools, such as the business rescue ‘moratorium’ proposed by the Government back in 2016. Despite the help a moratorium would offer a company dealing with a sudden shock, very little real progress has been made to introduce it.”

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We understand that facing up to financial challenges can be extremely difficult and stressful. However, you should be reassured to know that there are options available and, with the right advice and support, you can take the necessary steps to improve your situation. Contact MLM Solutions today to arrange a free, no-obligation, options review.


DS (Slaughterhouse) Limited

Variety is the spice of insolvency life but on 26 January 2018 Maureen Leslie received an unusual and relatively rare appointment when she became interim liquidator of DS (Slaughterhouse) Limited. The appointment was made by HM Revenue and Customs.

Elaine Ramage, mlm’s corporate senior manager, and Daniela Coia, an assistant manager in the corporate team,  attended the premises in Dunblane when the court order arrived in our Glasgow office.

Elaine, who is a vegetarian, found  to her dismay, that the company was still trading, her arrival on site coinciding with a delivery of pigs.  She made a call to the office to advise Maureen of the position.

When a company is still trading, an insolvency practitioner will usually assess whether it should continue to do so as a going concern sale will generally provide a better return to creditors than a break up sale will.   DS (Slaughterhouse) was a family run business which had been trading for 40 years and providing slaughtering services for traditional family butchers across central Scotland and as far north as Oban and Pitlochry.  However, it was fairly clear that a combination of regulatory and environmental risk factors would not allow us to continue in this case - to say nothing of the pigs, which our on site staff insisted could be heard squealing.  The Company employed 10 staff many of whom had been with the Company since the outset.  All staff had to be made redundant.

The directors advised that the Company had traded successfully for a number of years however; latterly a combination of foreign meat imports and cheaper supermarket prices had a damaging financial effect on small abattoirs.

Our team at mlm can respond quickly to appointments across a wide range of sectors.  Our thanks go to Elaine and Daniela for dealing very efficiently with a challenging assignment.  If you are a creditor, or if you have a client who is owed money which is proving difficult to collect, we’d be happy to talk to you about your options.