Corporate insolvencies fall 7.5 per cent

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The level of corporate insolvencies in the second quarter of 2015 has fallen 7.5 per cent year on year, as many practitioners continue to see fewer formal appointments.

The Insolvency Service’s latest statistics show that a total of 3,908 companies entered into formal insolvency between April and June 2015, which was 2.9 per cent less than the previous three months and 7.5 per cent lower than the same period in 2014.

A total of 765 companies were subject to a compulsory winding-up order in the second quarter, a 15 per cent decrease on the last quarter and 21.9 per cent lower than Q2 2014. This was the main driver of the decrease in total company insolvencies.

The statistics also show that the liquidation rate in the 12 months ending in the second quarter of 2015 was 0.48 per cent of active companies, the lowest since comparable records began in the fourth quarter of 1984.

As most of the industry will be aware, the number of company insolvencies has been on a decreasing trend since 2013.

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Corporate insolvencies at lowest level since 2007

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Company insolvencies in England and Wales have fallen to the lowest number since the end of 2007, according to the Insolvency Service.

The agency’s latest statistics show that 4,052 companies entered into formal insolvency in the first quarter of 2015. This was one per cent less than the last quarter of 2014 and 11 per cent lower than a year ago.

The figures also show that creditors’ voluntary liquidations were at their lowest since June 2008.

Some 2,481 companies entered into a creditor’s voluntary liquidation in the first quarter of 2015, a four per cent drop on the previous quarter and six per cent down on the same period in 2014.

However, a total of 904 companies were subject to a compulsory winding-up order in the first quarter, a nine per cent increase on the previous period but 16 per cent lower than a year ago.

In a similar trend, there were 432 administrations from January to March 2015. This is nine per cent higher than the previous three months but 17 per cent lower than a year ago.

The number of company insolvencies has been falling since the beginning of last year.

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HMRC halves its DCA spend

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HMRC has halved its spend on debt collection agencies (DCAs) during the past year, with £6.8m spent on them in 2014 compared to £14.8m in 2013, according to new research.

The study by chartered accountants UHY Hacker Young tracks HMRC’s usage of DCAs, since it started outsourcing tax collection to external agencies in 2009.

The accountancy firm said HMRC’s use of these agencies reached a record high in 2013.

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Personal insolvencies fall to lowest level for 10 years

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The number of people being declared insolvent in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since 2005.

Last year, 99,200 people were declared insolvent, either through bankruptcies, debt relief orders or individual voluntary arrangements.

That was a 2% fall from 2013 and the fourth annual drop in a row.

Meanwhile the number of companies going into administration fell to its lowest figure since 2004, at just 1,790.

That was a 24% fall from 2013.

The number of companies going into receivership, the other main form of corporate insolvency, dropped by 21% last year to 724, the smallest number since 2007.

The falling figures for both people and companies reflect the improved state of the economy, with fewer firms going under and fewer individuals seeking insolvency to resolve insurmountable debts.

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Blockbuster to enter administration again

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DVD and game rental chain Blockbuster is to enter administration for the second time this year, according to owner Gordon Brothers.

TS Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of TS 1973 Investment Holdings Limited which trades as Blockbuster in the UK and is owned by a subsidiary of global private equity and investment company Gordon Brothers Europe, today announced it is to file a notice of intention to appoint an administrator on behalf of Blockbuster Entertainment Ltd.

Blockbuster collapsed into insolvency in January after facing serious competition from online rental and video streaming competitors, before being acquired by the subsidiary of Gordon Brothers Europe in March.

A statement from Gordon Brothers said that despite the efforts to “turnaround the historically loss-making company by restructuring the business” Blockbuster suffered from “a period of poor trading performance across both rental and retail sales.”

The statement also detailed an attempt to develop “a new digital platform” to compete with other online video streaming services, although the owners were “unable to broker a licensing deal with Blockbuster UK’s parent company in the US.”

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HMRC adopts distraint tactics

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The number of petitions issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to wind up companies and place them in liquidation has decreased 42% over the last year to reach its lowest figure in five years.

According to new figures from legal services firm Pinsent Masons, HMRC issued 3,733 petitions for winding up companies in 2012/13, compared to 6,440 in 2011/12.

Similarly, the number of winding up orders successfully obtained fell by 25% in the last year, from 3,339 to 2,541.

Serena McAllister, senior associate in restructuring at Pinsent Masons, said the figures “speak for themselves”.

She explained: “The drop in petitions to wind up companies and place them into liquidation, combined with evidence that suggests HMRC is increasing using its powers to seize business assets, show that HMRC is now using distraint as its preferred method of enforcement.

“This tactic appears to be paying off as HMRC’s recovery rate has increased significantly, which is good news for the taxpayer although not so good news for businesses.

“HMRC is becoming increasingly aggressive in the use of its powers. For some companies, particularly SMEs, the seizure of its assets could be the final blow and may even force businesses into insolvency in some instances.”

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Credit union chief calls payday loans ‘financial cancer’

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Church leaders in Scotland and England are joining forces to compete with payday loan firms by setting up affordable credit unions.

The Church of Scotland is backing the Church of England after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, spoke of his desire to put firms like Wonga “out of business”.

The credit union movement is growing and one of the longest established is the Scottish Transport Credit Union (STCU) whose chief executive John Mackin is a delegate to Holyrood’s cross party group on credit unions.

People’s banks are becoming more popular with Scots from all backgrounds.

And the mere mention of payday loans firms makes Mr Mackin bristle with concern.

He believes they lend money irresponsibly without making sufficient checks to ensure borrowers can pay back the money they owe.

Mr Mackin is uncompromising in his criticism of the trail of human misery they leave in their wake.

He said: “The payday loan industry is nothing more than a financial cancer which causes unbelievable trauma. Ideally these companies should be banned if they are not lending in a responsible way.”

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Scottish insolvencies on the rise

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The number of people and companies going bust in Scotland has gone up, according to official figures.

The Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has revealed that nearly 4,000 people were declared insolvent between April and June this year.

More than 180 companies entered liquidation or receivership during the period.

Although an increase on the previous quarters figures – the longer term trend is one of decline.

Personal insolvencies increased by 14.7% in the second quarter of the year compared with the first three months of 2013.

However compared to the same time in 2012, the number of people going bust fell by almost 30%.

Only one company went into receivership between April and June and 183 were either voluntary or compulsory liquidations.

That is a quarterly rise of nearly 29% but a 56% fall compared with the same period in 2012.

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Vince Cable: Make directors liable for failure

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Business Secretary Vince Cable has proposed making fraudulent or negligent directors of UK companies personally liable for the firm’s debts as part of an overhaul of company rules.

He also said that directors deemed to be reckless should be disqualified from being able to work at another firm.

Mr Cable also wants to allow individual regulators to disqualify directors in their particular industries.

His proposals follow concerns over the toughness of corporate oversight.

A series of banking scandals, such as Libor and the mis-selling of PPI, as well as huge state bailouts in the wake of the financial crisis, have dented public confidence.

Mr Cable said: “We’re proposing tough measures to beef up the system for holding directors to account if they don’t play by the rules or take their responsibilities seriously. This will mean honest, hard-working directors are not disadvantaged and will give the public greater confidence that irresponsible directors will face consequences for their actions.”

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Ticket scam artist banned for 13 years

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The director of five companies that sold non-existent tickets for music festivals has been banned for 13 years following an investigation by The Insolvency Service.

John Lupton was disqualified for ripping off the public and claimed that the companies involved were run by his girlfriend using the identity of a deceased woman.

Paul Titherington, official receiver in the Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit said: “These companies claimed they could supply concert tickets but in most of the known transactions they never supplied the tickets ordered, nor made the required refunds to customers.

“Investigators were unable to corroborate Lupton’s claims of a co-director who was using a fake identity and has now vanished into thin air.”

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