PPP update – April 2020
19 May 2020
The first full calendar month operating under lockdown has been a busy one for R3’s Press, Policy and Public Affairs team, as we adjusted to new patterns of working, handled a variety of media enquiries, and engaged with politicians on issues of interest to the profession.
Member survey: Coronavirus impact
We want to know what R3’s members are seeing on the ground, what measures you think will be of most help to businesses and individuals in financial distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and how your own practices have been affected.
To get your input, we have launched a member survey on all of this and more – do check your inbox for the survey link (or get in touch if the email has not reached you). We have already had a tremendous response since the survey was launched – our thanks to all who have responded so far.
Policy and public affairs
The Finance Bill 2019-21 had its second reading in the House of Commons towards the end of April. The Bill contains the proposals to push HMRC up the creditor hierarchy to secondary preferential status – something which R3’s members are strongly against, due to the impact the move will have on other creditors and on the availability of rescue finance.
Before the Bill’s second reading, we sent briefings to a number of selected MPs, which led to the SNP’s Alison Thewliss MP mentioning the profession’s concerns in her contribution to the debate. The next stage for the Finance Bill will be the committee stage (date TBC), and we will be continuing our efforts to help MPs understand the potential damage the proposals will do to the profession’s efforts to rescue businesses as the Bill progresses through parliament..
Elsewhere, we have continued to work with Government officials on the plans to reform the corporate insolvency framework, announced at the end of March by Alok Sharma MP. We are still awaiting the full detail of the plans, butwe remain hopeful that their willingness to listen translates into a set of reforms that help the profession, and the UK’s world-renowned insolvency and restructuring framework.
Press and media
Throughout last month, R3’s press team handled numerous journalist requests, from members of the national and trade media. Some journalists wanted background information or technical explanations of what they were seeing in the news, which we were happy to provide, while others contacted us for input into their articles – see, for example, our comments to the Financial Times on so-called “light-touch” administrations, to the Times on how the profession is helping distressed businesses, and to the Sunday Telegraph on corporate insolvency framework reform.
The quarterly insolvency statistics for Q1 2020 were released at the end of April – see our comments here. Both personal and corporate insolvency numbers unexpectedly fell in the January-March period – something perhaps influenced by the disruption to normal ways of processing cases caused by the coronavirus, as the Insolvency Service noted. It will be interesting to see whether the disruption lasts, and whether it will affect the numbers for Q2 as well. R3’s analysis of the figures was quoted by Press Association, City AM, and Dow Jones, as well as a number of regional newspapers and trade magazines.
Finally, some team news: Nick Cosgrove, formerly R3’s head of external relations, left R3 for pastures new in mid-April. We wish him all the best, and are looking forward to a face-to-face leaving do at some point in the future. James Jeffreys, previously R3’s policy and public affairs manager, has taken over Nick’s role heading up the PPP team. Congratulations to James, and rest assured that as a team, we will continue to do our best to ensure the profession’s voice is heard and understood, and that its work is respected by press and politicians alike.
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