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While the last three years have seen some quietly far-reaching changes to the UK’s wider insolvency regime, the cumulative consequences of these have arguably yet to be made clear.
2020’s Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act brought forward a range of measures aimed at supporting viable businesses. Some were intended to provide only temporary protections for the pandemic period. Others, such as the Restructuring Plan and restrictions on the ability of suppliers to terminate contracts to businesses on account of insolvency or distress, are permanent changes to the landscape.
At virtually the exact same time, on the other side of government the position of ‘the crown’ itself as a creditor in insolvencies was being significantly elevated with the extension of secondary preferential creditor status to include PAYE and VAT, substantially reversing the abolition of crown preference introduced by 2002’s often lauded Enterprise Act.
At the same time again of course, there were unprecedented levels of government support being provided for businesses both in the form of guaranteed loans, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other measures. Developed and implemented at speed, these saw the government respond rapidly to mitigate the economic damage of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
And now as the impact of Covid-19 appears to recede, further economic challenges are coming to the fore. War in Europe is disrupting supply chains, and energy costs and inflation are putting increasing pressure on both business and household finances.
With all these moving parts and targets, there is a prime opportunity to consider some of the recent policy and legislative changes in the wider Business Support environment, assess their accumulated impact and consider both what additional changes may be required, and what the overarching principles for further evolution should be.
To join in with this discussion, you can sign up for our webinar on Thursday 7 July, 10.00 – 11.00 BST, ‘What’s next? Business support and restructuring in an uncertain world’, with experts including Dame Teresa Graham DBE, Chair of UK Finance’s SME Advisory Group, Paul Bannister, Head of Policy at the Insolvency Service and Millie Camley, CEO for the Institute for Turnaround.
The panel will consider the challenges for UK businesses and those finance providers that support them and consider how the UK support and restructuring regime needs to evolve to cope with an uncertain world. You can register for this webinar, as well as have a look at the other sessions available as part of UK Finance’s Commercial Finance Week here.
Matthew Davies, Director, Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending, Commercial Finance, UK Finance