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IPA - Message to members (25 March 2020)
IPA - Message to members (25 March 2020)

 

Covid-19

 

Possible key worker status for Insolvency Practitioners and others, potential measures for Insolvency Practitioners, information for IVA providers and support for businesses

25 March 2020

 

Dear member,

 

You may be aware that on 19th March, the Government published its guidance for the country amid the Covid-19 crisis, stipulating that everyone should work from home and only children of key workers should attend school, so that their parents can in turn attend work. You can view the guidance here.

 

Guidance on working from home for Insolvency Practitioners

We have been informed by the Insolvency Service that some people who work in financial services are also considered key workers, and the indication is that this includes Insolvency Practitioners and staff in linked roles.

 

However, it is important to note that whether any staff member deemed a key worker attends their office for work is a matter for each company to determine, and we would encourage all Insolvency Practitioners to work from home all the time in line with Government advice, except for the most exceptional circumstances where this may not be possible. Just because an Insolvency Practitioner may classify as a key worker does not mean that there is a need to act on the exemption. Staying at home as per the Government’s strong messaging helps protect people from Covid-19 and reduces strain on the NHS and schools.

 

We recognise that there may be regulatory or operational barriers that make working from home difficult, and we are happy to work with you to make this practically possible (e.g. by giving explicit licence to operate remotely or electronically where physical requirements are usually in place). If there are any challenges that you foresee on the viability of working from home, as well as any operational, financial or other impacts, and if there are other measures that we could lobby to put in place to help you during this period, please contact us at regulation@ipa.uk.com.

 

We at the IPA have moved to remote working. Email is the best method to contact us. If you usually email a particular contact at the IPA, please continue to do so as normal. You can also click here to access a list of our general email addresses.

 

Lifting the regulatory burden

We are mindful that many insolvency businesses will be finding operating in the current climate incredibly difficult.  We are very keen to (safely) lift regulatory burdens or change requirements to help you through this difficult time. We are in discussions with the Insolvency Service to try and obtain more for you by way of measures that might be taken to help you and your clients. In particular, we have lobbied No10 on your behalf to allow Insolvency Practitioner firms to qualify for business rate relief. We are also in talks with HMRC, the Insolvency Service and Companies House about a range of other measures that might make doing business easier during this time (e.g. swapping to electronic paper filing). We will update you as and when these discussions progress. To add to this, the Insolvency Service has just announced that IVA registration fees can be paid electronically, e.g. via BACS. Click here for full details.

 

If there are any measures that you would consider useful to relax or change, please do let us know.
Members are encouraged to use electronic means of communication wherever possible and to utilise the existing provisions already contained within the current legislation, regarding the use of websites (S246B). Physical meetings should be avoided and where appropriate, meetings should be held online. If considered appropriate, these meetings can be recorded. Members should ensure that communications are sent in good time to allow for the inevitable delays caused by the current crisis, which might slow down the processing of the information by recipients.

 

Information for IVA providers

The number of people who are currently in receipt of an IVA is now 284,000, and the current circumstances will make many more people seek financial help. In respect of PTDs, they are over 29,000.

 

For any firms operating at over 200 IVAs or Trust Deeds, can we ask you to please tell us your working from home operations, as well as any other impacts on clients’ business management. We are particularly keen to understand your firm’s approach to payment breaks and other measures for clients who find themselves in financial difficulty. Our expectation is that supervisory discretion is being fully utilised. Please email us at regulation@ipa.uk.com by 10 April.

 

We recognise that these are extremely difficult times and are keen to help you manage your business through this process. Please get in touch if you have any concerns regarding the current operating climate and allow us to draw your attention to the Government’s support for businesses throughout this time. Please see the link to an annex with this information at the end of this email.

 

The more insight and knowledge we have on the problems faced by our members, the more we are able to engage with the Government and alert them to any major possible issues. To get in touch with us for this purpose, please email regulation@ipa.uk.com.

 

Inspection visits

In light of government advice, the IPA is avoiding any physical inspections and meetings. Therefore, for the next three months, we will not be conducting monitoring visits on practitioners’ premises. Inspections will take place remotely as far as is practicable. Practitioners who are due a visit during this period may expect to hear from an inspector to make arrangements to supply the relevant information, and personal interviews may take place remotely or subsequently. It may be necessary to adjust the scope of our monitoring during this period.

 

Turning to help for businesses, we would like to draw your attention to a list of sources of help that we have compiled – click here.

 

We would also like to draw your attention to the question and answer document that we sent out last week, which you can access via our news and notifications page here. We hope that this is a useful point of reference for any queries you may have. You can of course contact us if you are still unsure of anything. The question and answer document also contains information on how best to contact us depending on the nature of your enquiry. We are experiencing a larger amount of correspondence than usual, but we will endeavour to respond to you as soon as we can.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Michelle Thorp

Chief Executive Officer

 

Insolvency Practitioners Association

 

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