Now many businesses are facing a January squeeze as shoppers either move their purchases online and don’t visit in person and more are pulling in their expenditure ahead of large expected bills and tax rises coming soon.
This could force many companies that are already struggling or who were relying on a positive Christmas and New Year trading period to consider their next option as Omicron restrictions continue to repress demand and desire to spend.
Some firms could find themselves in such financial difficulties that liquidation is their only real option but administration can be the best way forward for a business that might have a viable future and needs time to pull together a recovery plan to make it work.
So here’s four good reasons why an administration might be the best solution for a company to pursue in January to give them the chance of a brighter 2022.
If a business goes into an administration process then it automatically triggers a moratorium on debt repayments, creditor repayment actions including landlords looking to enforce lease forfeits or commercial rent recovery and if the situation has escalated this far, any visits from high court enforcement officers or bailiffs.
The moratorium can also be extended for a longer period if the administrator needs the additional time to work on a realistic restructuring plan or to plan the sale of the business or its assets unhindered.
If a business goes into liquidation the chances of a creditor receiving all of the money they are owed is effectively zero.
Even if they have a legal charge over property or other business assets, they would only see a proportion of the debt repaid in the best case scenario.
An administration that allows a sale of the business to new owners or that implements a realistic restructuring of the business and its obligations will be in the best interest of the creditors as it will give the company a chance to trade profitably again and repay the creditors 100% of the debts they owe them.
The administrator may find a lot of interest in taking the business on from other potential buyers or existing management might have fresh new ideas of their own to inject new energy and hopefully capital into the business and supercharge its chances of success.
A pre-pack administration allows the administrator to complete a sale to a viable purchaser in the quickest possible time and allow the business to reopen and start trading again out of administration.
The main aim of an administration is to put creditors interests first and foremost by preserving the business in the best possible shape to trade again or to make the necessary changes to allow them to recoup as much of their debt as possible.
One solution could be allowing the business to enter a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which will see a proportion of debt written off entirely in return for a guaranteed regular monthly payment, usually for five years, which will see some return.
Sadly, some businesses are so compromised by their debts and other circumstances that there is no viable way forward for them even after a moratorium and an administrator taking charge for a period.
A creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) is then the most likely next step which would see the business formally closed and all assets sold to realise some return to creditors.
A company can move to either of these additional processes quite efficiently and relatively quickly whilst in administration without having to go through additional stages and unnecessary bureaucracy, which would extend the amount of time before creditors can see any progress towards a positive solution.
The Insolvency Service will shortly publish its final insolvency statistics for 2021 and they will almost certainly show that creditor voluntary liquidations were by far the most common result of insolvencies in another trading year hampered by the pandemic and associated public health measures to combat it.
What is interesting is that the second most used process will probably be administrations proving that it is a useful and essential tool for business owners hoping to make real changes to their business that will give it the best chance of recovery this year.
Any decision to make big but necessary changes to a company should not be taken lightly which is why lots of directors and owners take advantage of our FREE consultation to get an unbiased expert opinion of their situation.
One of our experienced advisors will work with them to fully understand their position and will then be able to outline a series of options available depending on their unique circumstances.
Administration might be the most logical option or there might be other paths available. They will have to decide what’s best for their company but they will already have taken the first positive move towards a more certain future for them and their business.
The latest series covered what happened last month and while we can analyse the headlines quickly, we also like to dig a little deeper under the surface to see if there are any underlying trends.
One such occurrence we’ve noticed is that for the fifth consecutive month, the number of businesses going into administration has risen.
There were a total of 95 administrations in England and Wales last month (98 for the whole UK), which although below the comparable total for the same month last year (down 8%), this is still the highest total of administrations in a month recorded this year.
Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with BusinssRescueExpert thinks there are a couple of valid reasons why this is happening.
“The most frequently used insolvency procedure right now is a creditors voluntary liquidation or a CVL.
“This is where the shareholders or directors of a business place it into liquidation because it has no clear or obvious way to repay its creditors.
“The fact that administrations are continuing to rise month on month shows that some businesses have a more reasonable chance of survival than they previously would and are doing everything they can to keep trading.
“Not every business that enters administration can emerge as a profitable going concern but it does give those that do several benefits in their battles.
“The first of which is that any company that goes into this arrangement automatically triggers an automatic freeze on any creditor recovery actions such as winding up petitions or visits from bailiffs.
“This valuable breathing space is designed to give the directors and owners time to arrange their response and allow an insolvency practitioner to fully appraise themselves of the situation and work on their restructure and rescue plans.
“If the business can be saved, then they can dedicate their focus into these efforts. Alternatively, they could look to sell the business to new owners under a transaction known as a pre-pack administration.
“This is where the hard work of marketing a business for sale and agreeing the actual terms of the sale are done and settled before the business goes into insolvency.
“If there is no realistic way a business can be turned around and there’s no interest from prospective new owners then the company would probably enter liquidation but this is very much a last case scenario - administration gives them every chance to reverse their fortunes before this happens with the expert help of a licensed insolvency practitioner.”
Any business that enters administration needs to understand that it is a legal process that shouldn’t be taken lightly - especially by the directors.
Even if they fully plan on resuming control of their business if possible, there is no guarantee that the business will emerge from administration in better shape.
The administrator - a licensed professional insolvency practitioner - will do their best to cut unnecessary expenses and other proven techniques or the existing management may bring down the debt burden by exiting administration via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would see a proportion of these debts written off by the creditors in return for a guaranteed, regular monthly payment.
If the business completes this arrangement and emerges from it, control of the business will revert to the previous management.
They will also have the opportunity to buy the business if it is put up for sale although they will have no actual input into any sale process.
Entering into an administration can be a vital pause button for a business that is in decline or even more desperate straits.
It’s not a certainty that it will allow a business to restructure and emerge in better shape but it is a reasonable opportunity, and offers a better outcome for creditors than if the business closes down and goes straight into liquidation.
We offer a free initial consultation for any owner or director who wants to discuss administration for their company or any other process that might help them help their business.
An experienced member of our team will work closely with the director/s to get a clearer picture of the full liabilities and any other exposure as well as what the assets are and if there are any other circumstances in their favour.
They will then be able to provide a full slate of options, probably more than they originally thought they had, to help steer their business in a better direction.
But all of this will only be possible if they make that first decision to get in touch.
The end of the furlough scheme means that employers have to bring staff back into the organisation on full pay and conditions otherwise they will have to consider redundancies.
The restrictions on winding up petitions are also being lifted but come with a £10,000 price tag initially until March 2022 so this might provide some flexibility from debts but they will just be postponed rather than disappear.
Cleveland Bridge, the storied constructors of the Tyne Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge amongst others closed this month with the loss of 100 jobs after going into administration with debts totalling £21 million.
Despite a search for buyers, the decision was taken with administrators citing a number of factors leading to the company’s final collapse.
These included an £11 million estimation error on one project, delayed contracts, rise in steel prices, requirement for additional overtime work and a political coup in Sri Lanka where a major project was underway.
There was also a live case being investigated by the Health & Safety Executive and a live insurance claim.
Championship football club Derby County managed by Wayne Rooney went into administration and immediately took a nine point deduction leaving them bottom of the table on minus two points.
They are also facing additional financial irregularity charges from the Football League which could see another 12 points deducted.
The club blames a number of factors for their financial predicament including the failure of chairman Mel Morris to sell the club and the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on revenue streams.
A spokesperson for the club said: “Last week it became clear that the process which has been under way to identify a purchaser for the club likely would not be productive over the near term, despite negotiations with credible parties.”
The club is already under a transfer embargo so may not be able to bring in any new players when the transfer window reopens in January but could lose some as administrators look to reduce costs.
PFP Energy are the latest small energy supplier to go into administration this month as a crisis hits the UK industry with a sharp rise in wholesale gas prices affecting the market detrimentally.
The company had 50 employees and supplied energy to around 66,000 domestic customers and 25,000 non domestic users.
They are only the latest company to close their doors in this extraordinary month for energy suppliers.
They join Avro Energy, Green Energy, HUB Energy, MoneyPlus Energy, Midlothian Energy, Hiber Energy, Utility Point and People’s Energy that have left over a million customers looking for a new supplier.
Norfolk-based Plastech Moulding, who make plastic forks for supermarket snacks are making 15 out of 19 staff redundant after the government announced plans to ban single-use plastic items.
Managing Director Stephen Rundle confirmed that their main client had informed him that they were replacing plastic forks with wooden ones imported from China.
He said: “The effect on us is devastating. We have lost 100% of our business overnight and didn’t get any notice. The factory is standing idle and now 15 people are set to lose their jobs.”
Despite the forks being manufactured with biodegradable plastics and claimed to be a less environmentally damaging alternative to importing from China, it was not enough to sway their main client.
Warehousing, haulage and distribution company EVCL Chill which supplied Asda and Sainsburys has gone into administration.
Formerly known as NFT and based in Alfreton, Derbyshire, administrators have indicated that they will immediately begin marketing assets for sale to pay off creditors.
650 of the firm's 1,000 staff have been transferred to key customers to fulfill orders but the roles of the rest have no immediate guarantees.
The business was owned by venture fund Emergevest and up to December 2020 had a turnover exceeding £167 million but administrators confirmed that a loss of key customers and acute driver shortages proved pivotal.
New investment and ownership was sought but with no realistic offers forthcoming the management decided to place the business into administration.
A spokesperson said: “This has been a very difficult situation for us? and as a business moves from survival mode to recovery, the financial climate is still very volatile. The sector is already facing many difficulties and challenges. We will continue to fully support all affected staff members during this difficult time.”
Another Derbyshire based haulage business, Sprintdeliver, went into administration blaming the impact of Covid-19 and the general shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.
A spokesperson said: “In recent months, the company had encountered significant financial challenges due both to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on trading and difficulties in attracting and retaining drivers.
“Haulage companies up and down the country are currently facing significant challenges regarding the acute shortage of drivers which in turn is resulting in increased wage costs and higher staff turnover.
The business had a fleet of 30 lorries and 30 trailers but as administrators found there was no prospect of resuming trading so the remaining 35 staff were made redundant.
Dutch bank ING are closing their consumer-facing smart money app Yolt leaving the future of their 61 UK employees in the balance.
The bank has decided to concentrate on their open banking services and proprietary technologies and platforms rather than apps.
Yolt’s chief executive Nicolas Weng Kan said: “We want to give financial control to as many people and businesses as possible, empowering them to make more informed choices to help them achieve better financial health, create opportunities and make it possible to fulfil their potential.
“Focusing on Yolt Technology Services is a faster and more effective way of driving change. I would like to reassure Yolt customers that any money held in their accounts or personal data is safe and we will be in contact when the decision is final.”
The app currently has 1.6 million users who will be taking a keen interest in what ING decides.
When Yolt launched in 2016 after the Competition and Market Authority allowed big banks to allow licensed start-ups to access their data which saw a plethora of similar platforms launched.
Anaylst now point out that five years later there would naturally be some exits from the space as competition from new apps and lenders have invigorated big lenders. The dawn of open banking gave them a wake-up call and many have improved their own apps and money tools in direct response.
Woodlands Leisure Centre
The Woodlands Leisures Centre in Norfolk has closed with 13 jobs lost.
Billy Wright, the centre’s owner, said: “This has been a very difficult decision to have to make, and not one that we have taken lightly.
“Our 30-year-old building needs major repairs and the running costs are just so incredibly high. With the additional loss due to Covid, the facility is no longer viable or sustainable. We regret that this means that staff at the centre will be made redundant.”
The company that owns the franchise to Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Hotel Indigo in the prestigious Cube development in Birmingham has gone into administration.
Quadrant Catering Ltd also owns the franchise to Hotel Indigo in the same building. No other restaurants or hotels are affected by the decision.
A spokesperson said: “The decision to place the companies into administration was taken following the difficult trading conditions faced over the past year as a direct consequence of the Covid pandemic. For businesses in Birmingham, this was particularly difficult given the fact that the city itself remained in Tier 3 for an extended time period.”
Several other chef-branded restaurants in the city have closed recently including Tom Aiken’s Tom’s Kitchen at The Mailbox and Jamie’s Italian so they will be hoping this administration will be a turning point for the sector.
William Aston Hall
The operator of a popular music and events venue at Glyndwr University, Wrexham has ceased trading and gone into liquidation.
VMS Live (Wrexham) Ltd which operated events at the William Aston Hall venue said it had been an incredibly difficult 16 months for the events industry.
Acts due to perform at the venue in the coming months included Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee, Jason Manford, Scouting for Girls and The Charlatans.
A spokesperson for the University said: “We are deeply saddened that VMS LIve (Wrexham) Ltd have ceased trading as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“The company had total responsibility and control over all performances and ticket sales and the University fully appreciates that customers who have purchased tickets for future shows or those that have been postponed will be anxious about this news.
“We advise those who have purchased tickets to contact their ticket provider directly for any information regarding refunds. Unfortunately, as the landlord for the William Aston Hall, the university does not have access to these agencies and is not in a position to process any refunds as no ticket sales have been transacted through us.”
CS Wind (UK)
A wind tower solutions business based in Argyll, Scotland has filed for administration.
Founded in 2016, the company was the UK’s only factory producing on and offshore wind tower systems at the time but in recent years has been suffering as market conditions deteriorated resulting in a decline in contracts and revenue.
As a result, it began a managed wind down during 2020 and was effectively mothballed last Spring during the lockdown period. Despite their best efforts, the company was unable to secure new contracts and all staff have now either left or been made redundant.
With no prospects of any recovery in the market, directors decided to place the business into administration with administrators looking to market the assets for sale.
Genlec Electrical Contractors
Mechanical and Electrical contractors Genlec based in Lancashire have gone into administration with the loss of 18 positions.
The company worked in a variety of different sectors including retail, logistics and education for Morgan Sindall, its main client.
The business was experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid-19 which meant it was unable to meet its obligations to creditors. The administrators will now proceed with an orderly wind down of the company.
One of Britain’s oldest music retailers, Dawsons, has re-entered administration with the loss of 48 jobs and six locations leaving Chester as the only one remaining open physically to support the online presence.
The business went into administration in May 2020 but was sold to a new company which took on the management of the business. Sadly they were unable to return the business to profitable trading and administrators were brought in again in September.
A spokesperson said: “It’s been a really challenging period. The company had continued to experience tough trading conditions, exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 on high street footfall, even following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“Additionally, the company was also experiencing supply issues due to the global shortage of silicon chips and the challenges facing international freight and distribution channels.”
Dawsons Music was first established in 1898 and in addition to music retail, the company’s education division supplies music equipment to schools and colleges across the UK and internationally.
Two manufacturers with bases in Swansea announced their impending closures this month
Toyoda Gosei, which supplies body sealing components for major motor manufactures such as Toyota and Aston Martin is closing both its UK plants in Swansea and Rotherham putting 400 jobs in jeopardy.
The company said the decision was in response to continued changes in the global automotive sector, and a significant reduction in key UK customer demand.
Additionally, 3M will close their plant in the town with the loss of a further 89 positions.
The plant is the company’s oldest manufacturing facility outside of the USA and they said it is suffering from ongoing underutilisation impacted by changes in the markets it serves - the personal care industry, collision aftermarket and vehicle repair centres.
The closure campaigns for both facilities will begin in 2022.
This week doesn’t just see the end of September but also the final end of most of the Covid-19 support schemes established with the first lockdowns in 2020.
The furlough scheme finally closes on September 30th; CBILS and bounce back loan repayments continue to mount up along with increasing defaults and under certain specific conditions, the slight return of winding up petitions too.
Time is running out if your business is struggling to meet payments and obligations now.
You can still act now and see real change before the end of the year but only if you take the first step and get some professional advice first.
We offer a free, initial consultation to get a fuller understanding of what issues are the most pressing for your company. We can then work with you to draw up a timely plan for you to implement to help you prepare your business for the busy Christmas and New Year trading period.
Alternatively, if there is no realistic way forward for the business then we can advise on the easiest and most effective and efficient way to close and resolve outstanding debts and issues with creditors - this includes outstanding bounce back loans and VAT arrears too.
Whatever issues you’re facing - don’t face them alone any longer.
The Twilight Zone was an innovative and groundbreaking TV science fiction and mystery series made in the 1950s and 60s.
It’s been rebooted several times but some of its most famous episodes have been updated and parodied so much that they become part of the general culture.
So much so that the original moral of these stories tends to get washed out and forgotten in the retelling.
One great example of this is the story of “a kind of stopwatch” that was remade as a film called Clockstoppers and as a part of The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror halloween specials.
Both in the original and in the Simpsons version - a man or Bart and Milhouse acquire a stopwatch with one unusual extra feature - it can be used to stop time itself.
Like previous owners, they misuse the power, it breaks and while they ultimately repair it they remain marooned in time for several years.
The moral is that while it might be nice to stop time, it can’t be done permanently and time eventually moves on and catches up with us.
But what if you could pause time for long enough to give you space to work on ways to improve the financial outlook for your company or that could stop or freeze creditors actions while you arrange advice and assistance so that when they restart, your business would be in a stronger position to engage with them?
An Insolvency Moratorium might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
It allows businesses to have an enclosed legal breathing space away from creditors’ recovery actions like winding up petitions or bailiff visits while a recovery plan is formed.
This will restructure the company's debts and give creditors more chance of ultimately being repaid rather than seeing the company go into liquidation with the increased risk of not receiving repayment.
When first granted, an insolvency moratorium automatically lasts for 20 working days.
This can be subsequently extended for another 20 business days if required with more extensions available for complex cases and only with the consent of creditors themselves.
The company directors remain in control of the business and continue to run it on a day to day basis but a monitor is appointed to make sure that all conditions are being adhered to.
Of course the business also has to keep on paying any rent, employment entitlements or any liabilities that come from financial service contracts and the monitor’s fees and expenses - although this is agreed in advance.
What happens when a moratorium ends and time restarts?
Depending on various factors there are several ways an insolvency moratorium can be resolved.
The business raises new funds and investment from shareholders or directors own funds, or it could include a business loan secured with the aim of consolidating existing company debts into manageable payments.
A CVA is arranged with the creditors approval and the business continues trading and making regular monthly payments to creditors in return for being allowed to continue to trade and a proportion of existing debt being wiped.
Preferably after taking professional advice, the directors or business owner reach an informal payment plan with their creditors to begin paying down the debt. Additionally, if tax arrears are owed then a formal Time to Pay arrangement could be reached with HMRC.
Missing repayments for both could have serious consequences so should only be entered into carefully.
Sadly not every business can be saved even with an insolvency moratorium. If the debt and other issues prove to be insurmountable then the moratorium is ended and the business enters administration or liquidation.
“If you knew time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it” - Alice through the looking glass
Rules are changing at the end of September for winding up petitions and several other instruments including the final end of the furlough scheme.
The end of the year is in sight and the remaining weeks and months should be spent trying to regain momentum and build up to the best Christmas trading period for at least two years.
But what if you’re struggling with deciding which repayments to miss or trying to raise enough liquidity to make the minimum costs needed to avoid running up arrears for bounce back loans or other borrowing?
Even before thinking about an insolvency moratorium or other procedure, you should get in touch with us.
We offer a free initial consultation for any director or business owner who needs some impartial, expert advice on what they can do to help get their business back in shape for a hectic end-of-year period.
You could have more options than you think and if you’ve acted quickly, could even start to implement them and see results very soon.
However time will continue to tick by and if you don’t use it wisely then you could still have the same or worse difficulties later but without the time to fix them.
Which not even a magic stopwatch could help you with.
As home working became the enforced norm for millions, home shopping followed and home deliveries rocketed as a result.
The haulage industry stepped up to keep supplies running while the warehouses worked with customary efficiency to get packages out as quickly as they were coming in.
The postal and courier delivery services stepped up and became a nearly daily feature of our lives, accepting packages for neighbours if we weren’t expecting and receiving them ourselves.
It’s difficult to think of any goods transported in the UK that aren’t involved in road transport in some way.
According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA) some 89% of goods are estimated to be directly moved by road and the 11% that aren’t will still require some road connection in their journeys between ports, airports and rail terminals.
The sector is the UK’s fifth largest employer and 2.54 million workers alone keep the haulage and logistics businesses operating.
But cruelly, just as the final government support measures are being withdrawn, transportation businesses are suffering.
In the latest business insights bulletin from the Office of National Statistics, more transportation and shipping companies are likely to have paused trading or shut down altogether than any other sector with just 82% of them operating as normal.
The report found that 9.1% of transport and storage firms have permanently ceased trading, while 8.5% are paused.
The average across the wider UK economy is 3.4% of businesses have closed for good while 7% have closed temporarily.
It found that the high percentage of paused and not permanently ceased traders was partly driven by the freight transport by road industry and the unlicensed carriers industry which is experiencing a shortage of lorry drivers.
The knock-on effect of these and other issues means the national supply chain is affected with 7% of UK businesses unable to get materials and staff in the last fortnight with others forced to switch suppliers or make alternative arrangements.
Rod McKenzie of the RHA said that in the short term drivers’ pay is increasing to stimulate demand but: “This in turn is a cost that will need to be passed on, and given the tight profit margins of most haulage operators that means their rates to customers will have to go up.
“In turn, this may mean more of us paying higher prices for goods, services and shopping - including food prices - going forward.”
Who kept the show on the road?
According to the figures from March 2019 to February 2020 - there were 527 insolvencies involving businesses in the transportation sector.
In the immediate 12 months afterwards from March 2020 when the first nationwide lockdowns were implemented to February 2021, there were 382 closures in the sector.
Now, according to official statistics supplied by the Insolvency Service, there have been an additional 156 transportation sector insolvencies since March this year which takes the total number since lockdown to 538 - which is 33 a month or over eight a week pulling down their shutters for the final time.
Ominously, 51 businesses in the sector became insolvent in June this year, the last month figures were available for, the largest monthly total recorded since March 2020.
Did bounce back loans soften the blow?
Many transportation companies took advantage of the support options available to them throughout the pandemic and recovery period.
Many furloughed staff rather than making them redundant and others looked for government-backed borrowing sources such as bounce back loans or CBILS to help them through this unprecedented period.
The number of bounce back loans taken out by UK transportation services was 77,920 with a total amount borrowed of £2 billion.
This is an average loan amount of £25,667 per company.
Under the most conservative official estimates, it’s expected that 15% of the total lent to the industry would remain uncollected would be £300 million but if the default rate rose to even 40% then this figure would also grow to £1.2 billion.
Now the end of the line for the furlough scheme is in sight and while the temporary suspension on winding up petitions is being lifted to an extent, it will come with a £10,000 price tag until the end of March 2022 meaning some, but not all, creditors will stay their immediate legal attempts to force repayment.
Of course this doesn’t apply to any bounce back loan arrears or other borrowing amounts which have yet to be repaid. Nor will it impact on owed VAT arrears or stop business rates being reapplied to companies with physical properties.
Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with BusinessRescueExpert.co.uk thinks transportation businesses have a bumpy road to travel in the near future. He said: “Despite performing heroically during the pandemic and lockdown, the sector has been hit with a triple blow almost instantaneously.
“An unlucky combination of Covid-19, Brexit red tape and personnel shortages means a lot of businesses in the sector are facing dire financial conditions just when they should be gearing up for the busy Christmas and new year period.
“Unfortunately the timing of these issues are hurting a lot of otherwise viable transportation firms. Bounce back loan and VAT arrears are building and the lenders will be taking more active steps to recover this debt.
“One thing transport and logistics businesses can do is move quickly when they need to and if they can arrange some professional advice and act on it, they might still be able to make the necessary changes and protection to get back to doing what they do best and keeping the country literally on the road to recovery.”
Any business owner or director of a transportation focused business will tell you that logistics only works when there are no blockages in the system.
One hold-up can affect the whole network, impeding every channel until the problem is solved or removed.
But once it’s cleared, the recovery is usually quick and normal productivity and services are functioning again swiftly.
So it is with business rescue and restructuring. Once the biggest problems are identified and solved, upward progress usually follows in short order. But only when they’re dealt with.
We offer a free initial consultation to directors and business owners to identify what problems are holding their companies back and we’ll work with them quickly and efficiently to diagnose the most effective solutions.
The remedies can often be put into practice immediately but they can only work if the management seizes the chance to take action before it’s finally too late to change.
There are still local spikes here and there all over the UK and as we enter the traditional winter flu season, there might be temporary measures deployed if coronavirus cases rise sufficiently.
The government has also declined to implement planned vaccination passports for people attending large events in England so individuals and businesses could now begin to plan their Autumn activities with more certainty.
Against this backdrop it’s been confirmed that the various remaining pandemic support measures including the coronavirus job retention scheme or furlough will definitely end on September 30th along with a lifting of the ban on winding up petitions.
While it was expected that creditors would be able to seek winding up petitions once again, there’s been a sizable catch - so that now bringing a winding up petition is literally a £10,000 question.
New legislation to be introduced in parliament shortly will:
These measures will remain in place until March 31 2022.
Business Minister Lord Callanan said: “The time is right to lift the insolvency restrictions that were needed during the pandemic.
“At the same time, we know many smaller businesses are rebuilding their balance sheets and reserves, and some will need more time to get back on their feet. These new measures and protections will help them to do that.”
The minister said that businesses should pay their contractual rents where they’re able to do so and also confirmed that existing restrictions will remain in place on commercial landlords from pursuing winding up petitions against limited companies to repay commercial rent arrears built up during the pandemic.
Additionally commercial tenants will continue to be protected from eviction until March 31 2022 while a rent arbitration scheme to deal with commercial rent debts accrued during the pandemic is implemented.
One measure not time bound by restrictions are new legal powers given to the Insolvency Service which allow them to retrospectively investigate the conduct of directors of dissolved companies.
If they can prove that directors were dishonest or culpable in behaviour which led to their company’s failure then as well as being made personally liable for any debts incurred, they can be disqualified from acting as a director for up to 15 years.
This includes bounce back loans so obtaining professional advice is critical if you’re thinking of closing your business.
Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with BusinessRescueExpert.co.uk said: “The new £10,000 threshold for winding up petitions sounds like a big increase from the previous minimum level of £750.
"But in reality, due to the associated expense in issuing winding-up petitions, the vast majority of pre-COVID winding-up petitions were over the new level in any event.
“Eager creditors will examine their options carefully and look to use whatever leverage they have.
“Hopefully, many companies use the new 21 day period to negotiate sensible repayment plans. Seek expert help if in doubt about how best to approach this.
“Like the insolvency moratorium that’s automatically granted if a company goes into administration, this provides valuable breathing space and time for a business to come up with plans to deal with problematic debt.
“This includes outstanding bounce back loans or VAT arrears - they haven’t been suspended - and a business can still close down, even if a company has these debts but only if it’s done using the right method overseen by an insolvency professional.
“For example, If a business with unsustainable debt wanted to close and started the process in the next couple of weeks - it could probably be concluded before Christmas, leaving the directors or owners free to begin a new venture or career in 2022.”
Time is only an asset if it’s used effectively.
The 21-day negotiation period of winding up petition restrictions and £10,000 floor is only useful if you take advantage and get professional advice now because it will, like all the others, cease eventually.
We offer a free initial consultation to any business owner or director who wants to know the best way to close their company or if possible, restructure and keep it alive, even if it has debts.
Once we get a better understanding of the situation, we can come up with a tailored solution possibly with more options and choices than you thought you had.
But this is only possible if you use your agency and get in touch.
For instance, it’s common sense for builders, scaffolders and cement pourers to be classed together under construction but what about a travel agent and a security guard?
Or a car leasing company and a landscape gardener? Or an employment agency and a bouncy castle hire business?
They all come under the seemingly disparate title of administrative and support businesses which is a broad umbrella title that covers amongst others:
So now we know which sort of businesses we’re talking about - how did they collectively manage during the year of lockdowns and afterwards?
Less is more
The initial figures show that in the year leading up to the first lockdown being implemented - Mar 2019 to Feb 2020 - there were 1,798 insolvencies involving businesses in the administrative and support sector.
The immediate 12 months afterwards - Mar 2020 to Feb 2021 - saw 1,421 administrative companies close.
Although this is 377 less, it’s still larger than might have been expected considering the temporary halt on creditor actions like winding up petitions and the range of additional support made available to businesses over the past 18 months.
1,421 is a larger number than the losses reported by the hospitality and retail sectors, which were most popularly believed to be the worst affected in the pandemic with 1,378 hospitality companies and 1,355 businesses in the retail sector becoming insolvent.
According to official statistics supplied by the Insolvency Service, there have been an additional 358 insolvencies in the administrative sector since March this year which takes the total number since lockdown to 1,779 - which is 118 a month or 29 a week shutting their doors.
Did bounce back loans soften the blow?
The coronavirus jobs retention scheme or furlough, did help a lot of administrative businesses keep staff rather than forcing them to be made redundant.
As the travel industry ground to a halt and nightclubs and other sectors that would usually require security staff didn’t need them, administrative businesses with no income needed support and quickly.
The bounce back loan scheme and CBILS was rolled out for just such a purpose and these companies made use of it.
The number of loans taken out by administrative services was 102,946 - more than the collective borrowing of the manufacturing, real estate and transportation business sectors.
The total amount borrowed was £3 billion, which is an average borrowing amount of £29,141 per company.
Under the most conservative official estimates, it’s expected that 15% of the total lent to the industry would remain uncollected would be £450 million but if the default rate rose to even 40% then this figure would also grow to £1.2 billion.
Since pandemic restrictions began to be lifted, administrative businesses can begin trading again and supplying their valuable services to customers but there are storm clouds gathering on the horizon.
The furlough scheme is finally being wound up at the end of September which means businesses either have to bring their furloughed workers back on full pay or implement redundancies.
Any bounce back loan or CBILS arrears will continue to grow if they’re not being paid and any outstanding VAT arrears from their suspension in 2020 are now due too.
Creditors will also be able to begin to take action to reclaim unpaid debts from September 30th too, allowing them to seek statutory demands and winding up petitions if not paid within 21 days of receipt.
Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with BusinessRescueExpert.co.uk said: “Administrative businesses have had one of the worst hands dealt to them during the pandemic and lockdown.
“A lot of them didn’t qualify for any support other than bounce back loans and repaying these could become one of the biggest challenges businesses face this and next year if they aren’t able to trade like they did before.
“The travel industry is still in flux to put it mildly, hospitality and nightclubs are just reopening but will need to comply with new rules and regulations shortly with little guidance being given to their security on how they will be implemented.
“The shakeup in the commercial property sector will have big knock on effects for cleaning and landscaping businesses that service them so will make their financial forecasting nearly impossible to predict too.
“One thing administrative and service businesses can do is adapt and adapt quickly so they can use their talent and experience to take advantage of the little time left before September 30th and get some professional advice on how they can help themselves before so many rules change.
“A recovery strategy can work but only if it’s created and implemented now. This can include managing any unsustainable debt including bounce back loan arrears, VAT arrears or CBILS.”
A lot of people thought that by the end of September 2021, if not business as usual, we’d be at a stage of business getting back to usual.
But for many companies and sectors - especially administrative and support businesses - it really isn’t.
Debts have increased, more are appearing and the last protections from creditors are days away from being removed.
There could still be a practical way forward for a business in this position but only if they take the first step and get in touch to arrange some practical, professional advice.
We offer directors and business owners a free, initial consultation to set out their position and once we get a full understanding of the issues we face, we can work with them to create a strategy to meet and defeat these challenges.
But get in touch today because after September 30th, the choices might be harder still.
The ones that if solved or removed, would be a launchpad for the success that would likely follow because all the other fundamentals are strong.
It’s a problem video gamers come up against quite often.
They face a seemingly-impossible end of level boss that no matter what strategy they try, they cannot defeat and get past.
Countless hours have been invested and the familiar but rarely sincere “just one more go” has been invoked more than once but the only certainty has been the same negative result.
In the age of Youtube, Twitch, Discord and even gaming performance coaches - there are more ways to find this assistance - amateur and professional - than ever before so they can proceed towards their final goal.
Which brings us back to businesses in the same situation - where’s their solution and video guide to get them past their immediate insurmountable hurdle and help them to literally level up?
The good news is that it’s far easier to find than asking a bigger kid in an arcade to do it for them.
An administrator can be their extra life and give the company the fresh start it’s been reaching for - preserving jobs and giving the business a power up just when it needs it - but it does come with risks.
To clarify, administration is a formal, legal insolvency process that places an external manager - the administrator - temporarily in charge of a business with the aim of turning its fortunes around and saving the company.
This is a serious decision that can have ultimate consequences for a business so should not be entered into lightly or without getting professional advice first to see if it is the most appropriate course of action.
If this is the case then administration is a proven method of helping otherwise viable businesses restructure and regroup before reemerging stronger than before the administrator takes temporary charge.
Another important point to remember is that the administrator represents the interest of the company’s creditors at all times, not the management.
They’re there to make sure creditors can see the best possible return on their expenditure. If that’s through returning the business to profitable trading then they will pursue that option.
If it’s selling the business under a pre-pack arrangement to new management then that will be their chosen course and if the last recourse to secure their money is through liquidating the business and selling the company’s assets off to generate the best return - then they’ll do it.
Once an administrator is officially appointed they will produce a recovery plan which will always be based on repaying as many debts as possible and looking at ways money can be saved in the immediate and short term to reach the goal of saving the company.
They will be aided by an insolvency moratorium applying immediately which halts all creditor actions, giving the administrator time to put their plans together.
Administration is not an open-ended situation that will be allowed to continue permanently.
A creditors meeting must be held within ten weeks of the administration being entered where they will outline their proposals and their recommendations.
Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the business - its asset portfolio, cash flow and banking situation - they will inform the creditors what the most realistic outcome will be and what the plan is to achieve it.
This may even involve redundancies or other cutbacks in the short term.
An administration can end in several different outcomes depending on the circumstances and future viability:
The moratorium could give the administrator enough time to solve the immediate financial issues through raising extra funds through asset sales, new investment or informal agreements reached with creditors to settle existing debts.
If this happens then it’s mission accomplished - the administrator hands back the business to the directors who will continue to run the company.
Now free of the financial problems that originally burdened the business.
An administration might not be the only insolvency procedure the administrator needs to employ depending on the circumstances.
If the debt is particularly difficult to restructure and is the main obstacle to the business trading profitably in future then they might decide that a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is the best option to pursue.
Creditors are approached to see if they will accept a regular, monthly payment from the business in return for writing off a proportion of the overall debt.
This will usually be in their interests as they will stand to gain more from the payments than through any other method including asset sales following liquidation.
If agreed, the directors resume control of the business and it resumes trading with the new CVA payment agreement in place.
The business might be made viable once again but it might fare better under new management or owners bringing fresh ideas, energy and investment.
The administrator will market the business for sale immediately and conclude the deal while the business is still protected by the insolvency moratorium.
The existing directors might even be part of the ownership teams depending on circumstances but once the deal is concluded and the new management is in place then the administrator hands back control to this group and exits.
Sadly the debt and problems of the company might be insurmountable for even the best administrator and the only viable way forward will be to close the business down through a creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) process.
The business is closed down in an orderly fashion and it’s assets and property are sold off with the returns going to pay off creditors in legal order of precedence.
Because the business will already be in administration before the liquidation process begins, most assets will already have been sold prior to this so once a CVL is entered into, the funds can begin to be distributed to creditors.
In the battlefield of giving business owners and directors the chance to fight another day, it’s our call of duty to give them the best advice and support possible.
We don’t claim to have a halo but if you get in touch and arrange a free initial consultation with one of our expert advisors, we’ll let you know which options and strategies would have the best mass effect on your company’s chances of recovery and renewal.
Business life is strange and unpredictable so we’ll help you go through the gears when it comes to implementing any changes you need to. It’s a far cry from leaving you to manage on your own but an essential part of our service.
If it’s time to reboot your approach, do it with a Business Rescue Expert by your side.
Everybody who does paid work considers themselves a professional to some extent - whether it’s building homes, serving food or writing blogs so what makes “professional services” different and special?
The official title of the standard industrial classification (SIC) grouping is for professional, scientific and technical activities which specifies the activities of these businesses a little more clearly.
The sector includes sole traders, partnerships and limited liability companies that work in fields such as legal, accountancy, architecture, scientific research, advertising, management consultants and even veterinary services are included.
While the nature of their businesses might vary greatly, they will all have faced similar challenges to overcome in the previous 18 months.
So how are professional services faring in the post covid economy?
While the construction, hospitality and retail industries took a lot of oxygen and headlines about how the pandemic was affecting them - professional services businesses were also fighting their own battles to stay afloat too.
Since the first UK-wide lockdowns and enforced trading suspensions were implemented in March 2020, 1,351 professional services businesses have become insolvent (537 in 2021 alone) - which is more than 25 every week.
To put this in context, that’s nearly as many as the hospitality (1,378) and retail (1,355) industries without any of the associated attention of publicity.
One reason why is because the nature of the businesses are so disparate, it’s hard for the sector to speak with a unified voice.
Takeaways and fine dining restaurants have a lot of differences and cater for different clientele and markets but their interests can be effectively lobbied for by the same influential groups such as UKHospitality.
A marketing agency and a vets surgery will have their own representation but are unable to combine their funding, focus and forces to raise as formidable defence as the retail and hospitality sectors defenders did.
One area where professional service providers were able to compete on an equal footing with other sectors was when it came to accessing coronavirus support measures such as bounce back loans and being able to avoid making staff redundant by furloughing them instead as part of the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS).
When it came to bounce back loan borrowing, the professional services sector took out the third highest number of loans - nearly 160,000 - and after the retail and construction sectors, collectively borrowed the third highest total of £4.5 billion in support finance.
This works out at an average of £28,252 for every professional services business who was approved to access a bounce back loan.
Our research showed that under the various repayment scenarios it’s estimated that between £675 million and £2.7 billion might remain unpaid from this amount depending on the various circumstances facing the borrowers.
Now as accountants, business coaches and PR professionals begin to make up for lost time and hope to recover the ground lost during the previous 18 months, another potential problem looms on the horizon.
The end of September sees a confluence of rule changes coming together to spell trouble for unprepared professional service business owners and directors:
Employers with staff on furlough have already begun paying a greater contribution to their wages in August and September already but the entire scheme is ending on September 30th leaving businesses with potential tough decisions to make regarding staffing, rehiring and potential redundancies.
Bounce back loan and CBILS repayments will already have begun for the majority of borrowers but those that obtained a six month delay to the repayments will see it end this month meaning that these debts will now come due. Additionally any VAT arrears incurred in 2020 are also due now.
Creditors have legally been restrained from seeking redress for owed debts since March 2020 meaning that statutory demands and winding up petitions for debts incurred during and as a result of the pandemic have been unable to be granted or enforced.
This ends on September 30th as does the suspension on termination clauses, which guarantee supplies to businesses and stop suppliers from asking for additional security or extra payments from businesses that enter administration or other restructuring procedures.
Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with BusinessRescueExpert.co.uk thinks that professional service businesses such as marketing firms and architectural practices have a significant advantage that other sectors lack.
He said: “The entrepreneurial nature of the sector - whether it’s a design studio or established partnership - means that these businesses tend to be more agile than companies in other industries.
“This means that they can make decisions quicker and more importantly implement them to take advantage of changing circumstances that could affect them significantly.
“The various changes coming in at the end of the month will have serious repercussions for a lot of companies that don’t realise what’s about to happen or are unable to get impartial and professional advice to make the necessary choices and changes required.
“It’s the latter that will be best able to adapt to a potentially unfavourable outlook and protect their employees’ livelihoods as well as themselves.
One of the sad ironies that most professional service businesses understand is that when times get tough for their clients, they tend to be seen as some of the first expenditure that should be cut while they tighten their belts.
This often proves counterproductive because it’s the expertise and knowledge that they were hired for that would give the client a significant edge over competitors who would also look to cut back and grant them a competitive advantage at the very moment it’s most needed.
Every business in the professional services sector will have stories about clients acting in haste and repenting at leisure - so they should be able to take their own advice and act quickly and decisively when the circumstances demand action.
A business with bounce back loan and VAT arrears, CBILS or other borrowing might be able to sustain them today but this situation will change in less than four weeks.
We will listen and learn what challenges they’re facing and be able to provide options they can deploy, some immediately, that will either buy them valuable time to act or allow them to efficiently and properly begin to close an unviable business - even one with bounce back loans or other unmanageable debts.
Technically it’s supposed to be the summer holiday season but we’ve seen precious little of that.
KEO Films pre pack deal
The TV production company KEO films co-founded by presenter and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been bought out in a pre pack administration deal by Passion Pictures after declaring itself insolvent.
KEO films produced popular and award-winning shows such as “Hugh’s War on Waste '' and “Easy Ways to Live Well” and described itself as having a strong ethical brand reputation. It’s latest acclaimed documentary series to screen was “Once Upon a Time in Iraq” broadcast by the BBC.
The directors declared they were unable to put enough money into the business to maintain it as a going concern with the impact of the coronavirus proving terminal.
The deal has secured 20 jobs in the business and the new owners are voluntarily looking to repay as much of the debts KEO films owed to creditors before it went into administration.
Will Anderson of KEO Films said: “We are trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation and are trying to come to arrangements with people where we can.”
While not all of the old company’s debts could be repaid, the new owners have made offers to repay the majority of freelance employees in full.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall stepped down as a director once the deal had been completed but continued to make programmes with the company under the new ownership.
Formaplex pre pack administration
Formaplex - a major manufacturer with four sites in Hampshire - which supplied lightweight plastic components to the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, medical and defence markets was bought out by new owners this month in a pre-pack administration.
The 20-year-old business was rebranded as Formaplex Technologies by its new owners and 110 posts were lost during the process.
A spokesperson for the ownership group said: “While positive progress had been made, to secure the long-term future of Formaplex, the business needed to take further steps to strengthen its balance sheet.
“As a result, Formaplex Ltd was placed into administration and we agreed to purchase the business and assets of the company from the administrators on the same day through a procedure known as a pre-pack administration.
“There has been a seamless transition of customers and employees to a new business, Formaplex Technologies. We have secured the support of all the major customers and an experienced new CEO has been appointed.”
Minster construction closes
Mansfield-based Minster Building Company went into administration with 26 staff losing their jobs.
First formed in 2007, Minster specialised in constructing supported living facilities for vulnerable citizens but due to delays in planning and construction processes due to the pandemic combined with price increases in building materials meant that most of their current projects became significantly loss-making.
All work ceased on their various work sites from the East Midlands to the North East.
A spokesperson said: “It’s a great shame that a long-established construction business has been laid low by the knock on effects of the Coronavirus crisis.
“Not only have jobs been lost and suppliers left nursing substantial losses, but the vulnerable people who would have been housed in the properties being built by the Company will suffer as a result of the inevitable delays in completing these projects.
“The UK construction sector is facing acute difficulties as a result of the pandemic and the severe disruption it has caused to its operational processes, supply chains and labour resources. Sadly, Minster will not be the last failure in this vital industry.”
Garrandale, an engineering company based in Derby, has gone into administration.
The 45-year-old business began designing equipment to help streamline manufacturing in the automotive, healthcare, oil and gas sectors. In the 1980s they began manufacturing production equipment for railway carriages and continued progress working with companies such as AEA Technology and Bombardier working on a system that prevented train wheels from slipping.
The company’s expertise was also sought to help build the Hadron Collider and work on the Ariane space rocket used by the European Space Agency but has now officially gone into administration with the loss of approx. 70 positions.
AMG or AM Griffiths based in Wolverhampton appointed administrators earlier this month.
The business, founded in 1899 by Arthur M Griffiths, was profitable as recently as 2020 and worked on many private and public sector projects including building many schools and hospitals and was responsible for many major landmark buildings across the Black Country.
The company was unable to secure additional work and has ceased trading altogether with the loss of 60 permanent positions.
Six Day Series
Madison Sports Group, which staged the popular Six Day cycling series in London, Manchester and locations abroad went into administration as Covid-19 forced the cancellation of all their planned live events.
A spokesperson said: “Madison Sports Group and Six Day are prime examples of companies with solid business models whose difficulties have been greatly exacerbated by the fallout from Covid-19.
“With the majority of sports events closing down completely over the past year and a half, both companies' revenue generating capabilities have decreased markedly.
"Following the financial year-end and as a result of Covid-19 events have had to be postponed due to the health concerns of athletes, staff and guests and it is not possible to quantify the impact on the business, creating a material uncertainty over its future prospects.”
Six Day launched in London in 2015 with cycling stars such as Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish and has taken the format to other major cities with other stars but the enforced halt of all activities was too much for the business to survive.
The Indian sauces manufacturer first founded in Leicester in 1977 has gone into administration with the loss of almost 100 jobs.
The business produced a range of traditional Indian foods for both supermarkets and the foodservice industry and while they had invested heavily in recent years, growing their operations, the loss of business caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and recent labour shortages placed significant pressure on the company leading to the appointment of administrators.
A spokesperson said: “The pandemic significantly impacted the implementation of Simtom’s strategic plans.
“Our immediate priority is to support employees made redundant so they can make claims via the redundancy payments office and looking for potential buyers for the business.”
The Glenburn Hotel, built in 1843 on the Isle of Bute and billed as Scotland’s first hydropathic hotel, has closed and gone into administration with all staff being made redundant.
The hotel overlooks Rothesay Bay and was popular with businesses and holiday makers alike due to its location and extensive facilities.
The administration has primarily been caused by significant operating costs, coupled with the fall in revenue due to the Covid pandemic whilst still having to meet significant maintenance and running costs.
A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, having explored all its options, the hotel was unable to survive the significant fall in revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic whilst still having to meet significant maintenance and running costs.
“We will now focus our efforts on assisting employees, many of whom have worked at the hotel for many years, to submit their claims for redundancy and other sums due to them whilst preparing to market and sell the hotel.
“Whilst this is a sad day in the Hotel’s history, this is an outstanding opportunity to acquire an iconic hotel on one of Scotland’s most accessible islands.”
A Grantham based manufacturer has gone into administration with the potential loss of 100 employees.
Fruehauf was founded in 2010 and produces a range of tipper and rigid trailers, quality control systems and techniques.
Administrators are considering several options including a company voluntary administration (CVA) as well as a potential sale to any interested parties.
Freuhauf produced around half of the tipping trailers sold in the UK and ongoing delays to orders had already led to a major trailer shortage across the entire supply chain.
The business will continue to trade while in administration but this situation might exacerbate delays.
Newcastle based Kapex Construction which was involved in a number of high profile schemes in the city has appointed administrators.
The business launched in 2016 to work on various housing schemes throughout the North East of England and employed 62 people directly last year.
The company was recognised by RICS for its work on All Saints Church, an 18th Century Grade 1 listed building which was on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register.
The business was in profit in 2020 but the cessation of building work for the majority of the previous 18 months has proven insurmountable.
O’Keefe Construction based in Greenwich has entered a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with its creditors after suffering significant losses in the financial year to May 2021.
The business employs 178 has operated in London and the South East for over 50 years but took professional advice following severe cash flow challenges and are pursuing a CVA to continue trading while they restructure their debts.
A spokesperson said: “A CVA will secure the company’s future as a going concern and allow it to continue to service its ongoing clients.
“Crucially, a CVA will also maximise the returns to the company’s creditors, compared to alternative restructuring procedures.
“On a successful approval of the CVA proposal, the company’s shareholders will contribute additional sums to support its short term cash flow and to ensure the business has increased liquidity levels.
“The financial restructuring afforded by the CVA, alongside operational improvements made to the business, will ensure that O’Keefe is well placed to complete its ongoing and profitable work and to fulfil its client needs.”
CEO Patrick O’Keefe said: “The board was tasked with delivering the business out of the current difficulties and after taking specialist advice, has agreed to enter into a CVA to allow this mechanism to secure the long term success and profitability of the business.
“Thanks to our exceptional staff, our current portfolio of jobs is trading very well. The conclusion of the CVA process will immediately put the business on a positive footing.”
“The directors are optimistic regarding the future success of the company in view of the significant forward order book and improving project margins.”
We’re now into the last third of the year and what might be the most crucial month for businesses to get help and make essential decisions to secure their future for the rest of 2021.
September will see bills and debts continue to mount, the furlough scheme finally coming to an end, CBILS and bounce back loan repayments continuing to come due, defaults rising and the ban on creditor actions such as winding up petitions being lifted.
The time to get advice and hear what options your business has to manage its debt obligations including VAT arrears or bounce back loans is short so the best time to get in touch with us is today.
We’ll better understand your situation and be able to give you recommendations you can act on immediately to set plans in motion that will give you and your business the best chance of getting into 2022 and then working towards your medium and longer term goals.
Before any of that can happen though, you need to take action - the sooner the better - because for some companies, the end of this month will be too late.