Will the UK mini budget kick start the stagnating business economy?

Against a backdrop of soaring company insolvencies, up by 72% in the last year according to the Insolvency Service, and plummeting business confidence the new UK Chancellor unveiled a package of measures to try to deal with the current cycle of stagnation and rising costs.

The focus, said Kwasi Kwarteng, would be on growth and the measures included reversing the rise in National Insurance payments, freezing corporation tax and cutting stamp duty.

The limit on bankers' bonuses was scrapped and there will possibly be 38 new investment zones in England.

This hugely expensive package is generally called trickle down economics, whereby the hope is that with more disposable income, investors and businesses will pass on the gains to those lower down the economy.

However, it is not a new idea and dates back to at least 1972, when a similar package ushered in several years of boom and bust.

Will it work this time?

Who can tell.

Certainly the stock markets and investors were not impressed and...

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How is your self confidence?

We have been talking for several weeks about mental health and how important it can be to business owners especially given the current perfect storm of financial pressures they are facing.

While over-confidence can be dangerous, so too can another condition, known as imposter syndrome.

Originally thought to affect mainly high-achieving professional women, psychiatrists now believe it is more widespread and can affect up to 30% of business decision makers.

Imposter syndrome is characterised by a feeling of being a phony in some area of your life, despite any success that you have achieved in that area.

It can be undermining liked as it is to a fear that someday the person affected will be found out and exposed as a fraud.

There are several characteristics from the perfectionist, the expert, the natural genius to the super person and they all lead to an inability to be realistic about the sufferer’s achievements, competence and skills.

It leads to constant anxiety and a lack of...

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Directors be warned!

A business no longer has to be in formal insolvency before the Insolvency Service can investigate directors’ abusing their powers over Covid loans.

Since December 2021 the service has been given powers to crack down on company directors who dissolve their firms to avoid making repayments on government backed loans.

These powers are retrospective to allow conduct that took place before the law comes into force to be investigated.

So far the service has banned three individuals from acting as company directors, for dissolving their companies to avoid paying back Covid support loans.

Directors can be banned for up to 15 years under the new powers.

Last year, before the new powers were granted the service successfully petitioned the Courts to wind up five limited companies that have been involved in abusing government loans, introduced to help businesses during the pandemic.

Directors should be aware of their legal obligations to run their businesses according to the various laws...

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Shareholder pay-outs, investment and the balance sheet

cash flow Jul 22, 2022

The Balance Sheet shows the company’s assets and liabilities and how much money the business owes to suppliers at any one point in time as well as how much money it has in the bank.

Central to this is the cashflow, which needs to be well-managed.

Given the current uncertainties over inflation, interest rate rises and the ongoing and well publicised Ukraine war, supply chain and recruitment issues it is more crucial than ever that businesses scrutinise the relationship between their debts and their equity.

A decade of cheap borrowing has, according to The Economist, resulted in a massive “borrowing binge”, where according to statistics compiled by Bloomberg average business indebtedness has risen to more than three times earnings.

At the same time, according to The Economist “The share of operating cashflows reinvested by American firms in new capital expenditure and research and development has declined over the past decade to 27%, from over 40% in...

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Tough trading conditions are no excuse for fraudulent behaviour

According to the law firm Pincent Masons more than a third of UK company directors disqualified in April and May 2022 had abused the Government’s coronavirus loan or job support schemes.

37 directors were banned by the Insolvency Service for fraudulent claims in the two-month period and 140 had been banned for abuse of Covid schemes in the year to March.

Now the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors is warning that ongoing tough trading conditions are creating the “ideal environment for fraudulent activity”.

And Financial Reporting Council (FRC) chief executive Sir Jon Thompson has warned of the “devastating impact fraud can have, including bringing entire companies to their knees” and called on directors to review and strengthen their internal controls to prevent financial losses.

During the Pandemic K2 Partners published a Board Briefing to help directors to understand their duties and liabilities and at the time we made the point that it...

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Keep your valued employees by giving them a stake in the business

employees employment Jul 04, 2022

The numbers of employee-owned businesses have more than doubled in a year, according to the Employee Ownership Association (EOA).

There are now more than 1,000 Employee Owned businesses in the UK, it says, compared with 500 in 2020.

As trading conditions become increasingly difficult thanks to a combination of factors, including the war in Ukraine, post-Covid supply chain disruption and the difficulty in recruiting skilled people, employers have turned to EOTs (Employee Owned Trusts) as a way of both spreading the risks in business and in keeping and rewarding staff for loyalty during the pandemic.

There are also tax benefits from turning a business into an EOT.

But there are a number of things to consider in structuring and formalising an EOT and it is important to understand exactly what a business is getting into.

The questions, according to accountants Price Bailey include:

  • What is the commercial purpose of an EOT?
  • Is it suitable for my business?
  • Who will be the controlling...
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Don't give up!

According to PwC the number of UK firms filing for insolvency in the first quarter was broadly similar to the same period in 2021.

But they also reported: “when the smallest firms and companies that were liquidated when solvent are stripped out, the figures show those filing while insolvent more than doubled in the first quarter…”  (our italics).

But why would a solvent company go into liquidation?

Well, there could be a number of reasons, perhaps related to family or lack of successors.

However, given the number of economic headwinds, including inflation, supply chain problems, labour shortages and energy costs, as BDO has reported business optimism has fallen by 4.82 points to 101.93, for the second consecutive month, perhaps it should not be so surprising that patience is wearing thin.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet!

We would advise businesses to hang on in there, especially if they are still solvent, conditions will eventually turn around as they...

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Lessons for business leaders from the platinum jubilee

70 years is a long time to have remained head of an organisation and to be dedicated to the duties it requires.

Yet the Queen has achieved this and retained the respect of most people, regardless of whether they support the idea of a monarchy or not.

She has often referred to the royal family as “the firm”, so are there lessons for business leaders who want to see their businesses thrive and endure for a long time?

The world has changed dramatically over this period, not only in terms of technology but also in terms of people’s attitudes and behaviour.

So, mastering the skill of adaptability while retaining core values is a skill business leaders should aspire to.

There may be times when it is necessary to pivot a business in a different direction.

Of course, leadership requires both dedication and hard work, but another attribute recognised in the Queen is courtesy.

No matter to whom she is talking this is an attribute that she shows and one that business leaders...

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Walk away!

The most recent survey of small businesses carried out by the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) has found that at least a third of small businesses have seen late payment of invoices increase over the last three months.

Its new chair, Martin McTague, has called on the Government to include in the long-delayed audit reforms a requirement for a board-level role with responsibility for payments.

Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay has urged small firms to be more “brave” and reject unreasonable payment terms.

She said: “Some small businesses are beginning to say, ‘No, I’ll walk away. I’m not accepting 90 days’.”

Ms Barclay argues that small businesses have more power than they think because they drive the success of larger companies and the latter “are putting their reputations on the line by failing to pay smaller suppliers on time.”.

Fine words, but can you afford to walk away?

Perhaps the question should be...

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There are opportunities in even the grimmest situations

business growth growth May 19, 2022

Research by the UK organisation Make UK has found that almost three quarters of UK manufacturers have reshored their supply chains as a result of the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic and more recently the war in Ukraine.

“Nearly half (42%) of manufacturers have increased the proportion of suppliers based in Great Britain, with further reshoring in the pipeline for over two-fifths of companies,” according to their report.

This, together with the change in consumer purchasing habits moving to more online shopping has dramatically increased the demand for warehouse space.

According to latest research by Colliers, industrial occupiers are in a race for space as the UK is experiencing the lowest level of supply ever recorded, with only 18.1 million sq ft left, due to demand for logistics units continuing to be driven by the structural change in consumer spending patterns.

Colliers states that take-up in 2021 for industrial distribution warehouses of 100,000 sq ft+...

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