Lovetts Solicitors Managing Director appears on a Federation of Small Businesses panel
Lovetts Solicitors Managing Director, Michael Higgins, appeared on a Federation of Small Businesses panel with the Member of Parliament for Guildford; Angela Richardson and MBE, EM3 LEP Board Member; Ren Kapur to set out the post-pandemic Roadmap to Economic Recovery.
Michael Higgins expressed his ‘admiration for the way businesses have coped during the pandemic’ before giving advice on the importance of cash flow and the impact late payment has on businesses.
Key metrics prior to the pandemic showed an economy that was already struggling. These included:
- In 2015, 1.5 million money claims were issued through the Courts. By the end of 2019 this was up by 30% to 2 million claims. County Court Judgments (CCJs) have a significant impact on the credit rating of companies and individuals.
- Cashflow was clearly a problem because:
- In 2015 only 47% of claims would result in a default County Court Judgment compared to 58% in 2019.
- County Court Judgments also known as CCJs have a significant impact on credit ratings so most businesses or individuals will seek to avoid having one but by the end of 2019 58% of debtors did not appear to have the means to pay at the court claim stage.
- This is also reflected in the statistics for companies being wound up and going into liquidation. There was an 18% increase in company insolvencies in 2019 compared to 2015.
The pandemic will undoubtedly have impacted the economy even further. Cash flow for businesses will be crucial as part of the roadmap to post-pandemic recovery. Michael gave attendees some key tips for businesses to help protect their cash flow. These inclused:
- Create a process of sending out invoices promptly.
- If you have the time, contact your customer prior to the invoice becoming due to double check they have your invoice and it is on their payment run.
- Have a process where you chase late payment promptly in house for a certain period of time that you are comfortable with from a cashflow perspective and stick to that time frame.
- Once that credit control period has ended, get it to a third party debt recovery specialist and ask them to send a letter. A Solicitors letter can cost as little as £5 and on average 86% of cases will get paid.
- 58% of business fear chasing late payment in case it upsets customers. But Lovetts Solicitors experience they don’t get upset, if you have already chased your customer and warned it will be referred to a third party debt collector, they aren’t going to be surprised when they do get a Solicitors letter.
- Some companies have an internal policy to not pay customers until they receive a Solicitors letter because it means they can keep hold of the money longer and improve their cashflow to the detriment of their customers.
- As mentioned above 86% of cases are resolved upon receipt of a Solicitors letter and we often see our clients continue to trade with their customers.
Could the government do more? It was mutually agreed by Michael and Ren that the government could go further in providing support for businesses in order to aid in the economic recovery. However, credit was given for the introduction of the furlough scheme and government grants to help businesses and the general public.
The potential impact of the pandemic in respect of the mental health of employees was also discussed. The panel agreed that employees working from home and in isolation from colleagues was likely to have an impact on mental health and would have to be managed carefully. Michael explained how Lovetts Solicitors had partnered with Oakleaf, a mental health charity based in Guildford, and that mental health first aid courses were offered. Oakleaf also work to support individuals with their mental health by arranging activities that can be attended to via zoom, hampers for their members at Christmas, they offer one to one support and recently have helped 95% of their clients to feel less isolated during the pandemic.
One thing we know can have a positive impact on our mental health is going on holiday. As things stand at present, the government are stating that travel is going to be possible from the 17th May. Ren Kapur had to say that we should still be a little cautious when it comes to the idea of being able to go on holiday as things could change on a week by week basis. Angela Richardson was able to shine some light on this situation as she confirmed details such as the fact that nothing is set in stone and International travel after 17th May is subject to review, much closer to the time. Angela put forward the concept of the ‘traffic corridor system’. This is the idea that depending on the infection rates and how safe it is to travel, countries will be put into either red, amber or green categories to prevent the further spread of the virus or new variants from other countries. She went further to encourage stay cations which seems to be the best way of continuing on our pragmatic road map to recovery.
To share some final thoughts, Managing Director of Lovetts Solicitors, Michael Higgins had to say; “it is going to be a tough road to recovery but there is a lot of faith to be had in businesses”. A similar thought was shared by Ren who agreed that she had a lot of faith in our country and our communities that we can all work together to support one another on our Road Map to Recovery.