Many business owners are unaware of the different limitation periods for reclaiming debts in Scotland and England. Failure to observe these strict time limits could make all the difference to the success of your business or have severe repercussions for cash flow and even solvency. Many business owners believe that the limitation periods for debt is the same in the two jurisdictions, but in Scotland, the limitation is five years, whereas in England it is six years. Business owners and teams managing the debts and cash flow of the business need to be aware of these time limits and the laws which govern their contracts with clients.
Financial help website, Scottishtrustdeed.co.uk recently created a report on the state of insolvency in Scotland, based on figures from 2018. In this post, we look at some of the key findings from the report, which may help you to identify liabilities in your business and in your personal circumstances.
The latest report from the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) outlines that 4,664 people were declared bankrupt in 2017/2018, representing a 1.8% increase year on year. In addition, 73% of bankruptcy applications were made by individuals as opposed to creditors. Glasgow and Edinburgh had the highest numbers of bankruptcies, but this is to be expected given their higher populations, and doesn't give an accurate reflection of where the highest risk for bankruptcies lie. It is, in fact, more rural or 'fringe' areas such as Dundee where the biggest risk is concentrated.
You couldn’t successfully argue that Nicholas Wilson wasn’t persistent. That’s because he spent 16 years on a crusade to establish that HFC Bank and John Lewis Financial Services had overcharged thousands of people on debt payments. Both lenders are now part of HSBC.
English local authorities have been criticised for their overzealous debt recovery practices. In an article in July’s edition of “Local Gov”, the extent of the problem was highlighted, with council tax arrears accounting for no less than a third of debt issues which Citizens Advice deals with. This is a staggering figure, particularly when one considers that it exceeds credit card debt problems by 8%.
“No Mean City” is a 1935 novel. Describing life in Glasgow’s Gorbal’s district and the razor gangs, it painted a grim picture of violence and deprivation. It took generations for the city to lose this image, and today the Gorbals is now quite a trendy area with upmarket flats, restaurants and a theatre area.
But does Glasgow still deserve the “no mean city” epithet? Thousands of women employed by the city council will say that it does. And why should this be so?
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has experienced significant difficulty in their finance teams, with many of their suppliers waiting on payments for months.
One such supplier has now engaged the services of a debt collection agency to recover payment, saying that he is owed thousands by the charity and has waited many months for payment.
Official figures have shown that many more Scots have been declared insolvent this year compared to last year. Personal insolvencies have risen over the previous four years, with a total of 12,788 people facing bankruptcy or protected trust deeds (PTD) in 2018/2019. This was up by thousands compared to 10,602 people going bankrupt in the previous year.
There has been an 18.6 per cent rise in PTDs, which are formal, voluntary arrangements to transfer a person’s estate to creditors. However, traditional bankruptcies have actually fallen by 5.1 per cent.
“Vulnerable Debtor” is a phrase with which many in consumer debt recovery are familiar. Basically, it is a phrase which should alert a creditor to be cautious when attempting collection from a debtor who is “vulnerable”. Debtor vulnerability can take many forms and can display itself as a physical illness or where the debtor has psychological problems - often stress-related.
We are indeed indebted to Private Eye (no 1497) for drawing our attention to the latest Chinese concept for civil enforcement against defaulting debtors.
Late payments are a serious problem for Scottish and UK businesses. Research by accounting software company FreeAgent shows that two in five invoices issued by small companies were settled late in 2018. Free Agent used data from its 80,000-strong customer base to analyse late payment issues.
The Government have taken steps to tackle the late payment crisis, but there are a number of steps small businesses can take to mitigate the risk of late payment, which we have listed below.
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