Coronavirus business news update 14th April 2020.

14th April 2020.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

During the Coronavirus outbreak we will continue to share (as we can) the business news stories we have seen that we think will affect our members and readers. The news stories you might have missed that might have an impact on SMEs and those that sell on credit.

Here at CPA we are continuing while exercising social distancing and limiting travel. The majority of our staff are working from home while I and a couple of others care for key duties that have to be done in the office. We have done what we can to maintain social distancing and minimise chances for passing on anything, including dividing  the building up into zones. I’ve never known anything like it.

The UK Government has insisted its plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic “is working” but warned the nationwide lockdown will not be lifted this week. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab showed some cautious optimism as he revealed the latest data suggested the UK was “starting to win this struggle”, three weeks after restrictions were imposed.

SME don’t have enough cash to pay debts

Analysis by UHY Hacker Young found that the balance sheets of more than 13,500 SMEs showed the average firm had only 95% of the cash needed to pay debts due in the next 12 months.

UHY audit partner Martin Jones said: “It’s worrying to see British SMEs struggling to pay their short-term debts already. Coronavirus disruption is going to make the situation even worse over the coming weeks and months. A lot of SMEs have seen their incomes drop precipitously almost overnight. Cost-cutting isn’t going to fix the problem – many will need emergency support from the government, as well as swifter payments from their debtors to make it through this crisis.”

UK well-prepared for economic impact of the pandemic – Lord King

Lord Mervyn King, a former governor of the Bank of England, has said Britain is well positioned to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic because of the ten years of austerity imposed following the financial crisis.

“I don’t think we should worry today about the extent to which the national debt will rise, as long as we can get the economy back to function sooner rather than later,” he argued. He went on to urge banks to keep their branches open to ensure businesses can access state-backed loans.

Balance between economy and health sought to end lockdown

The UK government will consider modelling from the Treasury and the Health Ministry over the coming days that will give projections for the effect on the economy and the health of Britons of extending the coronavirus lockdown, or lifting it to allow parts of the economy to begin working again.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, are “taking a holistic approach in trying to find the right balance” sources told the Telegraph on Monday .

High demand for small emergency loans from businesses

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has approved 70% of the loans handed out to businesses under the government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). New figures show RBS approved 2,500 loans and the lender is the only major bank offering CBILS loans worth below £25,000.

Small businesses are reporting that banks require them to borrow a minimum of £25k.

HSBC told the Telegraph it is working on reducing the size of loans available to sole traders to below this amount. Elsewhere, fintech firms insist they could get loans out to small businesses faster than high street banks, which they say use crumbling legacy systems while fintechs can utilise machine learning for rapid assessment of claims.

Charlotte Crosswell, of Innovate Finance, says: “There’s a lot of back and forth with us and the government and regulators on how we can really leverage the fintech sector now.”

Finally, the Sunday Times reports that only 5,000 small businesses have received cash under the CBILS more than three weeks since it was launched. The paper says lenders are blaming the British Business Bank for creating a bottleneck for loan applications.

Treasury prepares start-up support

The Treasury is said to be considering a rescue package for start-ups that could see joint investment with private backers in a bid to ease pressures brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The mooted plans could also involve increased support from the British Business Bank, with the Chancellor likely to use the Government-owned development lender to deploy public money.

Philip Salter, founder of the Entrepreneurs Network, has warned that many start-ups’ business models of investing for growth mean they don’t qualify for state-backed loans from banks, adding a warning that “investment deals are falling apart, extreme write-downs are taking place, and early-stage funding is drying up.”

Sharma admits poor progress on loan scheme

The business secretary Alok Sharma said on Sunday that he had been in touch with leading banks to emphasise the need for emergency loans to be distributed to businesses quickly.

Three weeks after the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) was launched just 4,200 of the estimated 300,000 firms that sought help online have received rescue loans.

The Treasury is also under pressure to underwrite 100% of the loans, as Germany and Switzerland have done, removing the risk of default from banks and speeding up the process.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to double the amount midsized companies can borrow to £50m following concerns many larger businesses would be left without adequate support.

SMEs at risk if JRS comes in late

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has warned that SMEs face a disastrous cash crunch if the government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS) is not ready on time.

The JRS will give grants to employers covering 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries and is scheduled start on April 20th.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Employers with no revenue coming in have already had to find the money for last month’s payroll from their own reserves. For many, their only means to shoring-up cashflow has been an elusive emergency loan scheme. Cash reserves are dwindling fast. If the job retention scheme is not online by the time April’s wages need to be paid, thousands of small firms all over the country will be at risk.”

Miliband says state must guarantee 100% of business loans

The new shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, is calling for an overhaul of the government’s emergency loan scheme warning that thousands of companies were on the verge of collapse.

The former Labour leader said unless the government agreed to underwrite 100% of all loans, banks would continue to reject applications from cash-strapped firms. Germany has made just such a move for all short-term, COVID 19-related loans made to small businesses.

Debt bomb fears with $20trn needing refinancing this year

The Institute of International Finance (IIF) has warned that the shock to the global economy by the coronavirus outbreak risks destabilising $20trn of bonds and loans due before the end of the year.

The world economy is entering a recession with $87trn more debt than at the onset of the financial crisis, the IIF said, adding that the global debt to GDP ratio now stands at 322% and is set to rise to 342% this year.

Number of firms going bust rose 50% in March

Data from the London Gazette, the UK’s official public record for insolvencies, show the appointment of receivers, liquidators or administrators surged to 3,736 between March 10th and April 9th, compared with 2,495 in the same period last year.

James Russell, a partner at Humphries Kerstetter who compiled the figures, said: “We are just three weeks into the COVID-19 shutdown yet we are already seeing the speed and severity of the downturn facing UK companies. We are entering into what could well be a brutal recession.”

Crunch time for emergency grants scheme

With small businesses still waiting for emergency coronavirus grants worth about £10bn from the Government, Craig Beaumont, of the Federation of Small Businesses, has said that this will be a “crunch week” for the scheme.

LGA figures show that councils in England have paid out more than £1bn to about 100,000 small firms, with some local authorities having redeployed staff to make sure that money can be distributed quickly through the business rates system.

However, the British Chambers of Commerce has expressed concern that councils are “adopting very different approaches to delivering” the grants. LGA spokesperson Richard Watts insisted councils are “working at pace to ensure this vital funding can reach businesses as quickly as possible.”


The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – Oil producers reached a historic agreement on Sunday to reduce production and support prices, but it is unclear whether the reduction will be enough to match the fall in demand and will succeed in supporting prices.

America helped negotiate a deal between Russia and other OPEC players to reduce production by nearly 10m barrels of oil a day (around 10% of global supply), the largest-ever voluntary output cut. What is more, the producers agreed to limit production for two years.

However, Covid-19 and the lockdown has hit travel and has caused oil demand to collapse with the world appetite possibly dropping by 20m barrels a day in April. The deal’s long duration could support oil prices as demand picks up, but only if producers abide by its terms. Not something they have a good track record on.

Creditors asked to give retailers some space

Lawyers are calling on creditors to give retailers a break and stop issuing winding up orders for the time being.

Research by RPC shows retailers have been hit with 52 winding-up petitions since the beginning of the year, with the numbers accelerating since the coronavirus outbreak took hold.

Finella Fogarty, a restructuring and insolvency partner at the firm commented: “Even if the winding up petitions aren’t processed they scare off suppliers and possible funders and can have damaging effects on businesses.”

Housebuilders spark row over taxpayer cash

Britain’s biggest housing companies are facing criticism for furloughing staff despite posting large profits. Barratt, Countryside, Redrow, Bellway and Crest Nicholson are among the firms using the Government’s jobs retention scheme, with Taylor Wimpey also intending to use the emergency support.

However, the firms are now facing scrutiny from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. “House-builders should keep in mind that this money comes from taxpayers and they should only seek support if they need it to keep the ship afloat,” said chief executive John O’Connell.


Back in January the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictied that the global economy would expand at a “sluggish” pace of 3.3% this year.

How we would love for that now!

In its latest forecasts, published today, they will be much gloomier, as they factor in how the outbreak of coronavirus and widespread lockdowns will ravage the world’s economy.

Most forecasters are expecting the world GDP to shrink in 2020 for the first time since 2009, with deep recessions in Europe and America.

All expect the economy to bounce back once the global pandemic ends, but there is disagreement over when the recovery will come and how quickly the lost output will be made up.

Have governments have enacted sufficient stimulus to ensure that businesses and people have enough cash to spend once economies start to reopen? How much will people be scarred and how will habits have been changed for good, remains to be seen.

GDP could fall 30% in Q2

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly suggested GDP could fall by as much as 30% between April and June, while some banks have forecast a decline of around 25% in Q2 – an estimate in line with one put forward by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research think-tank last week.

It has been suggested that Mr Sunak is among those in the Cabinet calling for the lockdown to be eased sooner rather than later in an effort to boost the economy.

UK economy already showing signs of trouble before coronavirus

Data from the ONS reveals that the UK economy was up just 0.1% in the three months before coronavirus restriction measures began to affect businesses.

The ONS also found that just 40% of firms are confident their financial resources will allow them to continue operating through the coronavirus pandemic.

EY warned that contraction of up to 5% could be seen in the UK for March, with an economic contraction of 1.3% for the first quarter increasing to a 13% contraction in the second quarter, accompanied by a 14% drop in consumer spending.

EY’s chief economic adviser Howard Archer remarked: “There is no denying that there are substantial downside risks. [But] we believe the economy can start to recover in the third quarter and then see decent activity late on in 2020 and during 2021.”


The worlds programmers are competing in competitions sponsored by Facebook, Microsoft and numerous other tech companies to combat the pandemic.

Over 1500 submissions from 175 countries have been made.

Top projects include contact-tracing apps, online symptom-screening platforms and tools to help teachers work better with students remotely.

More good ideas are on the way: at least a dozen other covid-themed hackathons are scheduled.

Cruddas: Cut taxes and red tape when the virus crisis is over

CMC Markets chief Peter Cruddas is urging Rishi Sunak to slash taxes and cut regulation once the coronavirus crisis has abated.

He says: “You have to cut taxes to generate growth and inflation. It is no good suppressing companies by overtaxing them and suppressing individuals. You need to incentivise people. Cut stamp duty, get the housing market moving, let the pubs stay open longer. There is so much we can do. There is so much bureaucracy we have inherited from the EU but now we can do what we like.”

Cruddas was a keen supporter of Vote Leave and believes the UK would be better off cutting its losses than extending the transition period at the end of December. He also predicts a fracturing in the EU, suggesting if Italy and Spain cannot print their own money and set their own interest rates the EU will disintegrate

Mayor of London: Self-employed need more help

London mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded more financial assistance for self-employed workers in the capital in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The existing £9bn Self-employment Income Support Scheme, under which the Government pays 80% of profits up to £2,500-a-month to self-employed workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, would be too difficult for the Treasury to pay to anyone who did not have a tax return for the 2018/19 financial year, according to the Chancellor.

At the time the package was launched it was claimed that some 95% of self-employed workers should be eligible for assistance.


In America, Amazon is to hire another 75,000 workers to meet demand from customers shopping from home because of lockdown restrictions. The online retailer has already brought on an extra 100,000 workers in its warehouses and as delivery drivers. Since more than 16m Americans have lost their jobs in three weeks, the new posts are likely to be snapped up.

Coronavirus and the climate change challenge

Rachel Millard in the Telegraph considers the impact the COVID-19 outbreak may have on efforts to tackle climate change, saying the relative ease with which many businesses have held meetings online “rather than by jetting around the world” has led to optimism that travel might fall and reduce aviation emissions.

Simon Virley, head of energy at KPMG, says the pandemic “has forced business to adopt new ways of working”.

UK accounting watchdog postpones break-up of Big Four

Due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 downturn, the Financial Reporting Council has announced a “pause” in its plans to separate the accounting and consultancy operations of the Big Four audit firms. The regulator said all “demands on, requests from and meetings with audit firms on operational separation” would be stopped. It will review the decision in one month.

Eurozone strikes emergency deal on coronavirus rescue

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed a €500bn package of measures to support economies crippled by the impact of the coronavirus.

However, they failed to agree on how to pay for the longer-term economic reconstruction effort that will follow the crisis.

Under the deal, member states will be able to receive credit lines from the European Stability Mechanism amounting to at least 2% of a country’s economic output.

A row over shared debt obligations continues to simmer with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte warning that if the Germans and Dutch don’t shift their position “Europe will be dead”.

Debenhams goes into administration

Debenhams has called in administrators from FRP Advisory as the 241-year-old department store chain tries to stay on life support until the coronavirus lockdown is over.

Debenhams plans to try to re-open some UK stores after the crisis but its 11 stores in Ireland are to be liquidated.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, chief executive of Debenhams, said: “In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when Government restrictions are lifted.”

NMC Health falls into administration

Administrators from Alvarez & Marsal have taken over control of NMC Health after a High Court judge approved the appointment.

NMC first came under fire from short seller Muddy Waters in December over its governance and finances and has since been forced to reveal £3.2bn in undisclosed debt.

One of NMC’s major creditors, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, forced the administration after the company failed to meet its demands to shore up governance.

AAB urges greater coronavirus support for companies

Managing partner of Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB), Lyn Calder, is urging the government to enact measures to help firms survive the economic damage resulting from coronavirus.

She stated: “The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will undoubtedly prove to be a lifeline for many businesses. However, depending on their financial status, all too many will not qualify under the current stipulations.

For example, part of the eligibility criteria for access to CBILS requires lenders to assess whether a business is ‘viable’, which could well result in banks turning down loss-making businesses.”

She also pointed out that employees who live and work in the UK but are employed by companies with no UK bank account are in a precarious position as such employers cannot claim furlough support for UK-based employees under current regulations.

Government ‘should help small company directors’ access funding

Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, wrote in the Telegraph on Friday on how small company directors can be helped to access the Government’s coronavirus business support measures more easily.

He notes that many entrepreneurs “have found themselves unable to access the broader support measures for businesses.

The Government’s coronavirus loan scheme has, despite good intentions from all involved, had a somewhat rocky start, and young, high-growth companies have found it particularly frustrating,” and urges an increase to reliefs available through enterprise investment schemes and venture capital trusts, as well as a cash injection for venture capital funds.

Business bridles at rollout of points-based immigration system

The UK government has released guidance for businesses on the new immigration points system, but trade bodies say with employers struggling to deal with the fallout from COVID-19 they are unlikely to have the capacity to plan for the changes.

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said, “Now is not the right time to plough on with immigration reforms. The national effort needs to be focused on eliminating coronavirus, protecting jobs and getting the economy back on track.”

Do you sell on credit?

With pressures on the cash flow it is essential that you stay on top of the credit limits you grant customers and watch carefully for any late payments.

Those customers will look for the easiest option  to boost their cash-flow. Don’t let it be you.

You can’t just assume your customers can and will pay you eventually, no matter how big their name is.

It is essential to have credit management systems in place to monitor and check your customers credit worthiness.

It is also best practice to use a trusted third party like CPA to make sure you are paid on time by customers, no matter how good a name they have.

About CPA

The Credit Protection Association can help!

Formed in 1914, CPA has been providing credit management services to SMEs for over 100 years.

At the Credit Protection Association, we provide first class credit information that can help you avoid being over extended to customers who are at risk. Our monitoring service can flag up warning signs long before the end, giving you the chance to adjust and reduce your exposure. We provide recommended credit limits and credit scores on a traffic light system and can help you set appropriate credit policies for your customers.

We regularly publish lists of the latest insolvencies but by then it is too late. Our credit reports however predict approximately 96% of company insolvencies long before they arrive.

Companies in trouble usually have very bad cash flow and they try to deal with it by delaying payment to their suppliers, increasing your exposure to them.

If you supply on credit, help us help you identify the risks.

Why use a third party collector?

As a third party collector, we can also get your payments prioritised over those who are not as hot on collections. When your customer receives a letter from the Credit Protection Association regarding their outstanding account, they are going to want to get that resolved as a priority. Our overdue account recovery service can get your unpaid invoices to the top of their “to do” list and get your invoice paid.

Over the years we have collected billions in overdue invoices for our customers.

Our debt recovery and credit management services give our members the financial freedom needed to grow and prosper, while our new Late Payment Compensation department could unlock hidden potential and offer the compensation needed to springboard your business to success.

You might be hesitant about contacting a debt collection agency. What are they going to be like?

Can they help your particular type of business?

There is no need for concern. CPA are courteous, helpful and very probably have had direct experience of working with your type of business.

Debt collection agencies are not all alike.

Success lies in both recovering money and keeping customers happy. The Credit Protection Association was founded in 1914 and  has helped tens of thousands of UK businesses to collect outstanding payments and reduce the risk of incurring bad debt. We believe that creditors deserve to be paid for the work or goods they have supplied but we fully understand the need to maintain
the best possible relationship with customers!

At The Credit Protection Association, we provide solutions, advice and back-up in all areas relating to the supply of services or goods on account. Client-members receive everything they need from a single source to reduce debtor days and write-offs.

The Credit Protection Association has helped has assisted tens of thousands of UK businesses with their credit control requirements, since the First World War.

We are polite, firm and efficient when it comes to recovering outstanding debt.

“We have used CPA for a number of years now. The website is easy to navigate around with lots of helpful reports. The staff are always at hand and very friendly. CPA has  helped us reduce our debt over the years and keep track of potential issues with our customers.”
~ CPA client in Buckinghamshire

“The service from CPA has proved to be everything that you said it would be. We have already seen a huge benefit. We have had a number of overdue accounts paid promptly and directly to us. It is also a huge weight off our mind to know that once we have passed an overdue payment over to you, you take care of everything whilst keeping us informed.
~ Credit Controller client in Warrington

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections


Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

CPA is passionate about late payment

The Credit Protection Association has been protecting smaller firms against poor payment practices for over 100 years.

We are extremely passionate about breaking the late payment culture that holds back the UK economy and threatens many SMEs with cash flow difficulties being the single biggest killer of Britain’s small businesses.

If you were regularly paid late we can help. Those former customers used you to boost their own cashflow, regularly paying you late.

As a result you had extra costs, you had the distraction of having to chase payment, you had opportunity costs because your capital was tied up in their late invoices.

Under little used legislation, you are entitled to compensation for those late payments.

Now you can boost your own cash-flow.

CPA can help unearth the those hidden treasures.

We have the technology to reveal the compensation you are due and we have the extensive experience and expertise to then turn those claims into cash.

Yes, CPA can help you boost your business cash-flow.

Don’t let your bankers control you, contact CPA today.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections

Read our blog here on how to crack down on the late payment culture.

Read our blog here on how to give late payers the slap they need.

The “Why” of the late payment culture.

New PM should walk the walk and back small firms over late payments

Paying late is “crack cocaine” to big business.

Late payment culture risks “spiraling out of control”

visit our late payment compensation page

See our full blog and FAQ on late payment compensation

Do you realise you could be sitting on a fortune?

Late payments often result in a cash flow crunch and leave SMEs in need of a cash injection.

If you sold B2B on credit then there may be a hidden source of capital you can call on.

If you fancy an bit of extra cash in your business, rather than jumping through hoops with your bank, you could look to uncover the resources from an unexpected source within your own business.

Not many are aware but there could be a hidden fortune within your business, sitting there, just waiting to be uncovered and released.

We can help you uncover the pile of gold, you didn’t even know you were sitting on.

If you trade with other businesses and were often paid late then you could be entitled to significant compensation.

Under little known and under-utilised legislation your business could be due huge amounts in compensation that you didn’t even know about.

Let’s be clear – this is not a way to weaken any customer relationships you value. It is one that identifies who’s been paying late and then recover the potentially significant sums in compensation using Late Payment Legislation from businesses where the relationship has already ended.

You can pick and choose who you want us to follow up – but once we’ve agreed which companies you’d like to pursue compensation from it’s a fast process and there’s no financial outlay to you whatsoever. My team at CPA put its expertise to work to recover the compensation due and fight late payment culture.

That compensation could provide the cash boost your business needed.

But don’t delay, that compensation evaporates if not claimed within six years of the late payment.

How can CPA help?

CPA has developed a unique technology to dig into your accounting records and discover the cash injection you are due by means of compensation. The software does all the hard work. Our software interacts over the cloud with over 300 different software packages, working directly with your accounts package, just so long as it’s stored on a computer.

We recognise that most companies do not have the resources to spend time on the identification and calculation of Late Payment Compensation. Our service can produce an Analyses within just a few days with (usually) less than 30 mins of co-operation from our clients. We work directly with over 300 accounting packages but can also work with bespoke accounts packages. Indeed, speed is essential as the oldest invoices may fall foul of the 6-year time limit.

Once the Sales Ledger Analyses is made available to clients, all that is required is that management decide which commercially sensitive ex-customers to remove from the list and return it to us.

CPA then uses its years of collection experience to explain and recover the Late Payment Compensation Claims. Clients do not handle any part of the recovery process as our team will take all communications from the companies against who the claims has been made. Often, it’s simply a case of explaining the legislation, sometimes we have to go all the way and enforce the legislation through the courts.

The result is that we are realising clients’ claims worth tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds which, of course, is pure net profit.  You may also be among the recipients of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” should you elect to take advantage of our services.

We do the work, you receive the cash.

If you have supplied goods and services to businesses on credit and were regularly paid late then you could be due significant sums in late payment compensation.

We are talking to companies and unearthing claims in the hundreds of thousands from former business customers who paid them late. Large business customers who abused their power to inflict unfair and sometimes illegal payment practices.

We are helping business owners  who are looking to boost the returns from their business before they retire. We are helping businesses who have lost major clients after years of loyal service to get properly compensated for systematic late payment. We are helping companies that were looking to close down, who looked insolvent and finding that cash injection they need to avoid insolvency.

Those former clients who regularly paid you late can finally be made to pay.

Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

The Credit Protection Association is a credit management company established in 1914. If you supply goods or services on credit then we can help you!

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections

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The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections