Insolvency Support Services obtains Cyber Essentials certification

Insolvency Support Services is pleased to have achieved certification under the Cyber Essentials scheme.

Jointly developed by the UK Government and the cyber security industry, Cyber Essentials helps organisations implement essential levels of protection against cyber attacks, demonstrating that they take cyber security seriously.

Thanks very much to Diddo for their expertise and support in helping us complete the assessment and facilitating the certification process.

What are your views on the new moratorium and restructuring provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act?

Insolvency Support Services (ISS) is conducting research among stakeholders in the UK insolvency market on the new moratorium and restructuring provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act.

We are gathering views on the likely usage of the provisions and the potential benefits as well as the reasons why they might not be used.

Please take part in the survey by clicking here before 24 July 2020.

If this link does not work for you, please cut and paste this url into your browser: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ISSyourview

This survey should take less than five minutes to complete. All responses will be treated confidentially.

All respondents will receive a summary of the findings and be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a free ISS webinar as well as a £50 voucher for an online retail store of the winner’s choice.

Please note that the survey will be temporarily unavailable from 8.00 am–8.00 pm on 3 July.

If you have any questions, please email enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com

Webinar – Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction

In our One Hour Series webinar Technical Short: Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction on 17 July we will summarise the changes and how they might be applied by the profession. Click here to book.

Alison Curry elected to R3’s National Council

We are delighted to announce that Insolvency Support Services director Alison Curry has been elected to the National Council of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3. The Council, comprising senior professionals from across the profession, plays a vital role in the strategic decision-making process of R3.

With Alison’s election confirmed at R3’s AGM on Friday 24 April, fellow Insolvency Support Services director Eileen Maclean commented: “We are very proud indeed that Alison has been elected to serve in this important position with R3. She brings an exceptional wealth and depth of insolvency expertise and practical experience to the role.”

Having joined Insolvency Support Services in 2018, Alison provides a range of compliance, training, outsourcing and practice support services to clients throughout the UK. An engaging public speaker and trainer, she specialises in the practical application of insolvency law and regulation and the drafting of regulatory guidance. Prior to joining Insolvency Support Services, Alison was Head of Regulatory Standards & Support at the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

Alison said: “As a career insolvency practitioner who believes passionately in the value of the work the profession undertakes and the need to support that work, I’m excited to be joining R3’s National Council. R3 will play an essential role in supporting the insolvency profession as we help businesses cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an R3 Council member, I am looking forward in particular to bringing my first-hand experience of both the demands of working in a small practice and the machinery of the regulatory arena to the role.”

Insolvency in the time of coronavirus

Eileen Maclean outlines the challenges of COVID-19 for insolvency practitioners.

We are used to dealing with emergencies with no notice – we are IPs after all – but the speed of response demanded from the business community by the outbreak of coronavirus was unprecedented. Vast numbers of us now work from home and are finding new and innovative ways to manage our cases and deal with our clients and contacts. At the heart of the solution is IT – but IT cannot replace every aspect of an IP’s role. In this month’s article I consider some of the challenges for IPs in this time of coronavirus and how we can help you.

New appointments and AML risks

One of the first things we were asked was can we still take appointments where we have not met the directors in person? We think the answer is yes – but there are a couple of things to note. Firstly, you need to be aware of the AML risk since you are not meeting the directors in person. Adjust your AML policies and procedures accordingly and record this new channel and the risks it poses, if this is a new process for your business. If you are using an online verification tool, the risk is lessened, but make sure that you keep identification under review and check that you are not inadvertently enabling money laundering, the burial of some dubious pre-insolvency activity or giving advice without fully understanding the problems facing the business. Secondly, only if you or your agent must, and it is safe to do so having taken the necessary precautions in line with government advice, visit the premises, and make sure that they are subject to appropriate security measures, in line with your insurer’s requirements.

Advice to directors

The wrongful trading provisions may have been suspended for a period of three months as an eye-catching policy response to the difficulties of running a company in these unprecedented times, but directors are not completely off the hook. Misfeasance provisions in terms of section 212 remain firmly in place, and nothing alters your responsibility to quantify the director’s loan account, examine inter-company or related party transactions or transactions at undervalue or in preference. Your advice to directors at this time needs to reflect that. Unfit conduct is not going to go away, and you need to remind them your obligation to review and investigate will continue. We have a new checklist Investigations and CDDA and two supporting online sessions: Pre-appointment advice to directors and SIP2 and Investigations, which you can purchase separately or as a package with a discount.

Moratorium and other rescue provisions

At the time of writing, we have yet to see a draft of the UK government’s moratorium and rescue proposals although we expect them to build on the BEIS response to the Insolvency and Corporate Governance consultation. That contains proposals for a new moratorium to assist business rescue, the prohibition of termination clauses on the grounds of insolvency and a new restructuring process that will allow cross cram-down onto secured and/or unsecured creditors. As always, the devil will be in the detail, and the speed at which it is likely to be introduced. In the meantime the profession, supported by the courts, finds faster, inventive approaches to retail and high street casualties with a ‘light touch’ administration appointment in Debenhams.

Reputational risk

The sun will set in 2022 on the single regulator provisions introduced by SBEE Act 2015 following a review of the regulatory landscape. There is no indication at the moment what the government response to the formal consultation might have been pre-pandemic, but our approach in these dramatic times may well dictate whether we retain the privilege of self-regulation in the future.

The revised Insolvency Ethics Code was published at the start of the year and comes into effect on 1 May 2020. You can get to grips with the changes in our online session. Insolvency and IPs have not been far from the headlines in recent years, and we are headlining again now, big time. Our approach, our fees and our conduct are centre-stage of press, public and government scrutiny and one of our biggest challenges in these times is managing and protecting our collective professional reputation. The introduction of our new ethics code is uncannily well-timed.

COVID-19 our response

And therefore, to assist you in these times, we have prepared a free-to-view video: COVID-19: An Insolvency Practitioner’s Risk and Response. It covers dealing with employees – your and your cases’ workforce – risks and challenges presented by working from home, contributions management, protecting estate funds and assets, and meeting your statutory obligations.

Preferential status for HMRC

Following my February article on the return of preferential status for HMRC, due originally to commence on 6 April 2020, it is marginally gratifying to see the provision has been delayed until late 2020. We can’t predict at this stage HMRC’s overall exposure to lost revenue (but we know it will be a lot) or what their approach will be to collections (but we can guess) and in light of the widespread expected increase in numbers of insolvencies, whether they will be geared up to exercise their role as preferential creditor in a significantly higher number of insolvencies than a benign economic environment would produce (we can only hope).

Conclusion

We are always here to assist and protect your business. Please get in touch if we can help.

In the meantime, stay safe in these challenging times.

First published in the April 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

Brand new Investigation and CDDA Checklist

We now have an Investigation and CDDA checklist, intended for use by IPs and their staff dealing with investigations into company director conduct, recovery and disqualification.  Applying across insolvent liquidation, administration and receivership, the checklist reflects current insolvency and CDDA legislation and all statutory references are hyperlinked to the relevant sections.  

The checklist retails for £500 (ex VAT).

There are two supporting online sessions: Pre-appointment advice to directors and SIP2 and Investigations, which normally retail for £50 (ex VAT) per participant.  One single use registration of each online session will be included with the purchase of the checklist for a limited period of time.  For two or more registrations to each session, please speak to us directly.

Coronavirus: An IP’s Risk and Response

Our job at Insolvency Support Services is to support your business. We have produced this short, free to view online presentation to assist and protect your practice as you deal with the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19.  We’ve considered the risks for your insolvency practice, and suggested practical responses and strategies for addressing these.

We have also set out below how we can assist you to meet these challenges. Please contact us at enquries@insolvencysupportservices.com if we can help in any way.

Documentation and Policies

Revised policies and protocols for contribution management

Working from home policy

Data Processing Impact Assessment

Data Protection policies and registers
Online Learning

AML2020 update

Compliance Awareness Online Learning covering: GDPR, AML, Ethics and Vulnerability – ideal introductions to staff new to insolvency or looking for a refresher of these subjects

Social Media on Appointment

Foundations in Insolvency
Outsourcing

Case Reviews

Case Closure

Case Progression and annual reports

Current Guidance  

For reference, following are links to the latest guidance from AiB and IPA.


AiB – COVID-19 – Contingency Arrangements

IPA – Insolvency Guidance Papers: Control of cases

Covid-19: Important information for IPA members

Business Continuity Statement (17 March 2020)

We would like to update you on our approach to service delivery in light of the current situation and Government advice. We appreciate that these are uncertain times for everyone, but as a team we remain open for business and can be reached in the usual way. We will continue to support your business and maintain continuity of services wherever possible.

ISS Training

Here at ISS, we are used to agile working. GoToMeeting allows us to meet with you remotely and our recent investment in online training provision means that our training courses continue to be accessible across a number of platforms. Our online courses are hosted on GoToWebinar or our Moodle School platform: www.isstraining.moodle.school and we will be adding more online resource over the coming weeks. Let us know if you have a particular requirement.

We will be in touch with everyone that has a pre-existing face-to-face course booking to discuss options. Up to date details of all our rescheduled courses can be found on our website at: https://insolvencysupportservices.com/iss-training

CPI/CPPI/JIE

If you are an exam student, we will be in touch with you separately regarding arrangements for your training.

Should you have any questions or queries, please do get in touch. We very much appreciate your continued support of our business.

In the meantime, we hope that you stay well, and we wish you and your families the very best at this difficult time.

Eileen Maclean
Director

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020

Today, on International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we celebrate the achievements of all women, with a special mention for our outstanding colleagues, clients and contacts here at Insolvency Support Services. An equal world is an enabled world.

 

New Practice Management Workshops

Insolvency Support Services is delighted to launch our new Practice Management Workshops. A brand-new training stream, our workshops are designed to keep you up to date with your regulatory requirements. The programme will help you build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant insolvency practice in a cost-effective manner.

This stream is intended for insolvency practitioners (particularly sole practitioners or SME businesses), those considering obtaining their insolvency licence or setting up in practice, and anyone responsible for internal compliance processes or with an interest in the subject matter.

There are five workshops to attend or choose from, running in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh throughout 2020:

• Practical AML Policies and Procedures
• Financial Controls and Annual Compliance Statements
• Data Privacy and Cyber Crime Prevention Policies
• Avoiding Discrimination and Making Adjustments to Services
• PII, Bonding and Insurance considerations

Attend all five and pay for just four workshops or choose the workshops that meet your practice’s needs, in the venue that’s most convenient for you.

For full details of each workshop, click here.

CPD Learning Outcomes

• Keep up to date with current regulatory requirements
• Learn how to build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant practice
• Cost effectively implement statutory and regulatory requirements into your business
• Reduce your practice’s risk profile

Cost

Each half day workshop: £155 + VAT

Book three workshops and get our usual 50% discount on the third workshop: £387.50 + VAT

Book four workshops for just £527 + VAT

Book all five workshops and get five for the price of four: £620 + VAT

Bespoke In-House

We can also run this training in-house for your team. This is a cost-effective option for larger practices. Contact us to discuss available dates and requirements.

Half day course: £975 + VAT

Full day course: £1,950 + VAT

 

 

 

 

HMRC: the return of preferential status

As IPs, we know something about everything to do with running a business – whether that is our own business or the insolvent one over which we have been appointed. We understand the business environment, our legal and statutory obligations, accounts and how quickly a profit can descend into a loss. We are employers, officers of the court, personally liable, licensed insolvency practitioners and, now, we are tax experts as well. Or we will be.

At least, that’s what it feels like. We have always had to know something about tax – how and when to account for it (or more often, when it should have been accounted for), what the UK tax regime looks like and how it operates, our role in reporting insolvency to the tax authorities and dealing with claims. But increasingly, our language is becoming more specialist and we are talking the language of tax in much greater detail in conjunction with insolvency-speak.

The language of tax

There are many aspects of tax law that impinge on us as IPs and there are more changes coming our way. The language of insolvency now borrows from the language of tax and we need to be able to talk IR35, loan charges, entrepreneurial relief and director’s personal responsibility for corporation tax.

The return of preferential status is one of the biggest changes we have seen to the insolvency/tax dialogue since 2003, when the then Labour government, supporting entrepreneurs and their right to a second chance, abolished Crown preference for any outstanding PAYE/NIC deductions relating to the 12-month period immediately prior to the insolvency, and any outstanding VAT for the period of six months immediately prior to the insolvency. Banks, as the predominant holders of floating charges, would benefit from the reduction of preferential creditor claims and so the prescribed part was born, with the prime purpose of ensuring there was at least one modest reason for an ordinary unsecured creditor to engage with an IP. Here we are, 17 years later, with a now Conservative government ready to shoehorn the ‘Crown’ back into preferential status, this time at the expense of the lending banks rather than the unsecured creditor class. The prescribed part will remain, but none of its benefits will be enhanced. Qualifying decision procedures haven’t encouraged creditor engagement and the return of preferential status for HMRC will kill off what engagement has persisted to date.

Therefore, taken together, what do we think the impact of all of this tax talk will be? The HMRC-led onslaught of the UK’s entrepreneurs will lead to more appointments – probably. That’s generally a ‘good thing’ from an IP’s perspective, but a bad thing from the wider economy’s perspective. But let’s face it, it’s bad for us too: fee recovery and a return to creditors requires buyers with funds and an expectation of an economic environment subject to a degree of stability in which a purchaser can usefully set their newly acquired assets to work.

And who is going to be our principal, arguably only, customer? HMRC of course. It is going to be scooping the cash out of our insolvencies as a result of its preferential status and then pursing the director for any shortfall.

Let’s hope that HMRC has geared up for its new leading role as principal creditor in insolvency land, because IPs are going to be pursuing the taxman for much more than tax clearance. Fee approval, administration proposals, IVA and CVA proposals, modifications… if HMRC doesn’t get to grips with the volume of requests coming its way, expect the courts to become much busier – costs higher, and dividends lower.

First dibs

Lending patterns and security obligations will change (and indeed anecdotally are already doing so). If you are a lender to business with an existing exposure, or are contemplating a new lend, your floating charge might not be quite so valuable. Yes, it’s still a good idea to have one so that you can appoint administrators, but HMRC will have first dibs on the cash that we generate, ahead of your floater. Asset-backed lending became a thing in the 1990s, and my prediction is that it will be a much bigger thing in the 2020s, so that any recovery is in the fixed charge category, ahead of the preferential category. Mind you, that only really works in England and Wales, since English law enables fixed charges over many more categories of asset than Scots law.

And directors – who would be a director now? Personal liability for any government debt owed by the company can’t be far away (but perhaps we shouldn’t put ideas in their head).

Jaded and cynical I may be, but this is serious stuff, and it’s difficult to talk about tax in insolvency without taking a position, or a view. R3 have done just that and as an R3 member you can write to your MP and set out your concerns. Contact the policy team at R3 for details.

And what is all of this going to look like in practice? To find out, watch our  One Hour Series: Technical Short: The Return of HMRC Preferential Status.

And if you want to know lots more about tax and insolvency, you can find details of our Tax and Insolvency Course taking place later this year. Book online here

First published in the February 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.