Business debts can be a serious concern for many people, and our expert team is more than capable of helping you deal with your own.
Whether it is an energy crisis, a drop in consumer spending, or even something far more serious like a global pandemic and Brexit uncertainty, we can provide the support you need to get your business through those turbulent times.
It only takes a few weeks of disruption to their normal profits for many businesses to push them into the red. For many more, even a single week could be enough to send them into a debt spiral.
If your business debts are starting to reach a point where you might not be able to rein them back in - or if the problem is already far too extreme to handle - what can you do to deal with it?
There are various ways to tackle your business debts, and our services can be one of the most effective ways to get your cash flow back in shape. Whether you need simple advice or hands-on restructuring, we can guide you through liquidation and get you back on your feet.
Our experts offer free and fully confidential advice , working with each client professionally at any scale. Whether you are self-employed or at the head of a huge multi-office company, we can offer effective debt solutions tailored to your situation.
We are licensed insolvency practitioners in the UK, specialising in business debts and priority debts for limited companies and self-employed people.
We put a lot of focus on tackling debt problems head-on and managing business finances effectively to get our clients back to a positive cash flow.
Our business debt helpline is always open, allowing us to take on any clients and their business debts the moment they contact us.
HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) tax debts should always be a priority.
As tax debts, these are some of the most important business debts a limited company or self-employed trader can owe.
We can ensure that our clients pay their HMRC debts on time, whether that means helping them update their information with HMRC or assisting them in paying the debts directly.
Not paying your class 2 HMRC contributions on time is a criminal offence and something we can support.
Not only can we keep your information with HMRC up to date to avoid any mistakes, but we can help you manage your business debts to ensure that you pay the right amount at the right time.
HMRC have a range of ways to try to recover debts you owe them.
Our business debt professionals are the perfect place to turn if you want to support in dealing with important business debts like this.
Regarding business debts, income tax arrears are vital to running your business. Our experts can ensure that you get your income tax calculated and correct, contacting HMRC on your behalf as needed.
We can help break down your income tax arrears if you miss a tax return.
Since you do not get to appeal against income tax arrears determinations, our expertise can be important for avoiding serious penalties or increasing tax debt interest.
HMRC tax debt can be handled in various ways, but just like personal debts, it is best to make sure they are paid correctly and on time.
Our business debtline is always open to provide support.
VAT calculations are a small but important part of business debts and something that our business debt experts can manage.
Businesses must send their VAT returns to HMRC.
If your VAT returns are outstanding, HMRC will not provide more time to pay back your debts via the tax return, and they treat VAT arrears as a serious problem. You need to pay your VAT tax return accurately and before the deadline hits - otherwise, penalties will be added to your VAT bill.
We can support you in avoiding debt problems with your VAT bill.
For example, we can help you appeal during a VAT tribunal, calculate the VAT arrears and interest you may have to pay or help you manage your personal debts to ensure that you pay VAT arrears (and other important business debts) before the tax return deadline.
Like all important business debts, our licensed professionals make it easy to get in touch and settle these problems before they can disrupt your small business.
HMRC deals with National Insurance contributions, which means that National Insurance arrears can become a serious debt problem for a small business.
However, there are also specific National Insurance contribution classes that you need to understand.
Class 1 is paid by employees unless their earnings are below a certain limit.
Class 2 is paid by self-employed people at a flat weekly rate over a certain earnings limit, meaning that self-employed people need to either pay their Class 2 National Insurance or contact HMRC to arrange an exemption.
Class 4 contributions are also for self-employed people and are paid alongside the usual Class 2 when they earn more than the tax allowance for the year.
Our business debtline can inform small businesses and self-employed people about their tax allowance and NI contribution requirements.
HMRC sometimes attempt to recover debts via your tax code.
They will usually alter your tax code to recover debts if you work for an employer rather than being self-employed.
Our specialist advice service can help you manage if you are being chased for debts.
Bailiffs are enforcement agents that recover debts on behalf of HMRC.
A bailiff will be appointed by HMRC Commissioners and used to recover debts without a court order, often by listing items you own that would cover the debts and asking you to sign a formal agreement.
Signing this agreement means you can retain those items while you pack your personal debts in instalments.
Otherwise, the items are taken to cover the cost of your personal debts.
In general, signing up for the instalment payment arrangement is a good idea, especially for a sole trader who relies on those items to earn income.
HMRC are limited in what they can take - they cannot take household items or items owned by people who are not responsible for your personal debts.
However, they can take equipment from a sole trader or self-employed person.
Our professional advice service can provide the help you need to stop this from happening.
You do not have to let bailiffs into your home.
However, they can enter through open doors and, in extreme cases, may seek a warrant to force their way into your home. Vehicles parked on public roads can be forced into without a warrant or clamped if they are on private property.
A bailiff may also ask you to make a virtual controlled goods agreement via telephone calls or letters rather than visiting in person.
There can be good and bad points to doing this, but you do not have to agree.
Our business debtline can help you determine if it is the right option for you, even if you call us right after receiving their request.
If you owe HMRC more than £1,000, they can ask your bank to pay the debt.
They can usually only take the owed money after 30 days from you receiving a letter from them and do not need to go to court for permission.
Accounts with less than £5,000 cannot usually have money taken out of them.
Your debt problems must reach £1,000 in total and can include any tax. If you take the right steps, you can object to having your owed money taken this way - call our business debt advice contact number to learn more.
HMRC can also ask for money to be taken from joint accounts. They will assume that the money is split equally - if two people share the account, they will make the assumption that 50% of that money belongs to you and will only take from that half.
HMRC can make a claim via the County Court to get a County Court Judgement, often if the bailiff action did not succeed.
This is often used to recover debts like income tax and National Insurance contributions. It will linger on your credit reference file for six years - making it harder to get further credit.
You get a claim form when a County Court Judgement is taken against you.
This tells you about the debts and how much the creditor claims you owe them.
You can admit the debt or dispute it - contact our business debt helpline to learn more about how this works.
Disputing the County Court Judgement is based on your circumstances, with the County Court considering how the debt should be paid back.
In some cases, this can mean that the court reduces the debt the collector wants.
There are a lot of specifics to understand about missing payments on a County Court Judgement or how CCJ enforcement may work.
If you need to know more, our business debtline can give you all the details you need to prepare.
The court may issue a Judgment Summons to ask why you have not paid your County Court Judgement.
If this happens with HMRC, you can be sent to prison if you will neglect to pay despite having the money available.
Not paying a County Court Judgement will usually result in a summons, especially if you fail to do it repeatedly.
If you owe less than £3,000 on income tax or National Insurance arrears, HMRC may recover debts through the magistrate's court - a process known as 'summary proceedings'.
This can only be done within 12 months of the debt being due.
While HMRC rarely does this, they still have the power to.
For example, if the debt has been referred to the magistrate's court and you still have not paid despite being court-ordered, court bailiffs can collect the debt using the abovementioned methods.
Do not hesitate to call our business debt helpline if you are worried about missing payments and suffering unexpected consequences.
Owing more than £5,000 allows HMRC to make you bankrupt after ending a statutory demand.
Entering bankruptcy means that valuable items and assets can be sold to pay your debts, and it is often used as a last resort due to the nature of the process and how it all works.
Since HMRC use bankruptcy as a last resort, it is mostly done when the debt problems remain unsolved, and the person owing the debt has refused to pay anything towards it.
It is important to let the collector know if you have almost no assets or income since this will impact whether or not they end up trying to push for bankruptcy.
If you have very little income, almost no assets, and your home will not cover the HMRC claim or debt, then you are unlikely to be made bankrupt.
Bankruptcy is used to force debts to be paid, but there is no reason to do this to a small business or self-employed person without enough assets to cover the debt, even if forced to.
Contact our business debt professionals if you want to know more about this process.
HMRC follow a specific charter (the HMRC Charter) with certain commitments.
These are rules and goals the entire organisation will follow, usually relating to how they secure debts, send legal document requests and deal with small businesses that owe them money.
Act fairly and impartially by treating your affairs in strict confidence within the law.
Communicate effectively by providing clear guidance and accurate, complete sets of information.
Provide good-quality service by handling affairs with accuracy and speed.
Remain accessible, including to customers with special needs.
Remain courteous and professional.
Keep the costs of customers to a minimum.
If you wish to complain about HMRC for any reason - such as being refused time to pay or being overburdened with constant requests - then details to contact HMRC and complain can be found on their website.
Alternatively, our business debt advice contact can help you make the complaints, which sometimes require a certain procedure.
Your complaints are passed to a handler, and you can ask for a new handler if you want your complaints re-reviewed.
After that, you can contact the Adjudicator's Office to get an overall view of the situation. Complaints to HMRC are accepted in writing or over the phone.
If none of these steps makes you happy with the result, you may need to appeal instead.
Our debt professionals can help make this easier by guiding you through the process, so contact our business debt helpline specialists to learn more about how you can appeal.
Business rates are a form of tax you must pay the council for as long as you are trading, even if that means leasing empty premises or maintaining equipment leases.
However, you can also claim some discounts under the right circumstances.
You may be entitled to relief from tax and business rates, especially if the rates bill has not been calculated correctly. However, they are priority debts that can impact every small business and self-employed person.
The council can remit and "write off" your business rates arrears, but this is rare.
However, you can apply to get them written off in exceptional circumstances, making you completely free of business rates debts.
To remit business rates, the council needs to see that:
Not remitting the rates would cause you hardship.
Remitting the business debts would be reasonable, especially if your small business is important to the local community.
Exceptional circumstances needed to apply to be completely free of business rates debts include:
Your business (whether a small business or a self-employed enterprise) has failed, and your personal circumstances mean that you cannot pay priority utility arrears.
This is most often accepted if you receive benefit income or are in serious personal hardship, such as long-term ill health that requires constant medical care.
Your small business is essential to the local community and cannot be allowed to close, even due to important business debts. For example, a small town's post office or nursery may be the only one in the local region.
You need to present the council with information about potential hardship, your steps to keep the business running, and your assets and budget.
The council has a range of ways to recover business rates arrears.
They will send a reminder notice, but they will ask the magistrate's court to make a liability order if you do not pay after these reminders.
This means they can use various methods to recover debts, including taking the money directly out of benefits payments - making these high-priority debts for many people.
The council can also make use of bailiffs as a way to recover debts.
This is generally the same as council tax, except that they can take tools of the trade more directly. Other than that, the council tax information above is still all correct.
Understanding how bailiffs work and how you can protect certain properties from them is important, and our business debt experts can make sure that you can protect yourself from any important losses.
Remember that the virtual controlled goods agreement is also an option. Again, you are completely free to turn this down, and there can be advantages and disadvantages.
Contact us via our business debt helpline before agreeing to anything.
If the council has used bailiffs and you are still not fully paying off the debts, they can ask for a special hearing called a means enquiry.
This is to determine why you have not paid and how you will pay back the money, as well as whether or not it would be reasonably possible to pay it back soon or if you would need more time to do so.
These hearings are usually meant to let you explain why you have not paid, which can be important if you are in a position where you cannot even pay utility arrears.
It allows you to explain why the debts are still standing, which can sometimes mean that you get your business rates written off or your debts pushed into a weekly instalment plan.
If you show no excuse for not paying your debts, you can be imprisoned.
However, this generally happens after one or two hearings, with the first being to push you into paying business rates and other debts correctly as a last-ditch effort to make you pay.
Note that you are usually imprisoned only if you have the money and assets but refuse to pay.
If your personal and business finances are so poor that you can't pay anything back, you are not given the same punishment.
This imprisonment generally applies to people who have the means to pay back but are negligent or refuse to comply with the courts.
Contact our business debt advisors to learn more about how this works and what you can do to protect yourself and your business.
If you have gas and electricity debts on your property, the suppliers have powers of recovery similar to any other loaner.
This debt can be transferred to your home account if the two accounts are in the same name and provided by the same supplier, which can mean that you suffer consequences at home for business premises arrears.
It is important to treat these as priority debts.
Even if you do not use your business premises and keep them empty or lease them out to somebody else, you may still have to pay these debts.
The consequences can spill over into your home life if you do not carefully manage your business finances.
While you can no longer be disconnected at home for failing to pay water rates on your business premises, the debt from your ongoing bills has to be paid alongside any debt from any previous property you owned or traded from.
Water companies can get a County Court Judgement against you to try and retrieve the money they are owed.
Since a County Court Judgment specifies how much you owe and how it should be repaired, it is important to manage your business finances well - especially as a sole trader that may end up paying business rates on the water for a single-person enterprise.
Contact our business debt advice service if you want to know more about making payment offers alongside your credit to resolve these debts.
If you have outstanding debts to businesses that once supplied goods and services to your small business or limited company, they can take action against you to recover what they are owed.
This will also impact a sole trader or self-employed person, even if you have stopped trading and moved on from that business.
Suppliers will sometimes use a debt collection agency to get their money.
These agencies have no extra powers compared to the companies you owe money to since they are not bailiffs.
They are there to facilitate an informal arrangement to pay back the money rather than using any special legal powers.
Old suppliers may also claim to get a county court judgment through the Court.
Before the County Court Judgment applies, you will get a letter explaining how to pay and how to contact them directly. This is the same process as mentioned earlier, with no real changes.
If you do not keep to the payment as ordered during a CCJ, bailiffs, referred to as High Court Enforcement Officers may act as the internal debt collection agency.
They cannot force their way into your home if they have not visited peacefully before, which means you can deny them from entering.
Old business suppliers cannot use a judgement summons if they take county court action against you.
This means you cannot go to prison for not paying an old supplier's debt, even if they have an active County Court Judgement against you.
As mentioned earlier, you can be bankrupt if you owe over £5,000 to an old supplier.
This is a similar process to the methods used by HMRC.
This can be incredibly relevant to any small business with outstanding debts.
If you have had a lease for business premises, you may still be liable for ongoing rent if you cease trading.
Monthly tenancy requires you to give the correct notice period before you leave.
However, your responsibility (and liability) usually ends when you finish your tenancy. Be sure to check the terms of your tenancy agreement, and talk with our licensed debt advisors if you are stuck.
A long-term lease (usually over a period of years) can keep you liable for rent until the lease expires or a new tenant is found.
Even if you leave, you will still have to pay rent towards the business premises for a while, which often involves treating it as a priority debt.
This can even impact a sole trader, not just a fully limited company.
If your landlord evicts you, then the lease ends. However, you will be responsible for the business premises in most other cases.
Subletting can allow you to avoid this problem, but that can still require you to negotiate payments and liability for ongoing business rent arrears. Landlords will not usually refuse this.
If you ask the landlord to surrender the lease and accept, they will be liable for the property.
This is not very likely to happen, though, unless you can guarantee that a new tenant will take over the property that you are leaving. Be sure to talk to them about the specifics of the leasing arrangement, too.
A landlord can send bailiffs to recover rent without a court order, but they can generally only call at the rented premises. If the premises are empty and free of valuable assets, bailiffs usually can't come to your home for further action.
Talk to a debt professional if you need help with threats from a landlord regarding bailiffs.
If you stop trading, you can usually treat rent as a non-priority debt. Sometimes this requires you to make an informal arrangement with the landlord to negotiate payments since you may still be liable for the debt even if it is not a major concern anymore.
If you had a formal or informal arrangement to lease equipment for your business, you need to check and see if you have the right to keep that equipment after the lease.
You may need to pay for the equipment even once the lease runs out, even if your small business has stopped trading.
Many equipment rentals now comes with a personal guarantee meaning that you are personally liable for these debts.
It is a criminal offence to sell leased equipment without the company's consent to you.
Even if you have ceased trading, you are not completely free to sell off those assets. You also cannot sell equipment to pay other bills, like payments on your mortgage or secured loans.
Note that some companies may reduce debt if you return equipment.
A small business that has stopped trading can sometimes return leased equipment to get a reduction on a non-priority debt.
Equipment can include specialised personnel. For example, sometimes hired accountants refuse to complete tax returns or manage their cash flow until the hiring or leasing company pays their accountants' bills.
This can also create situations where you have to rely on trading figures since you can't afford an accountant to manage your books.
Good business debt management is important if you are self-employed, a sole trader, or the owner of a small business.
There are many business debt solutions, but not every debt solution suits every small business or situation they get into. For example, tax returns differ from an informal arrangement to lease some equipment.
You can always restructure your finances to solve the problem if things go wrong.
Our business debt helpline is managed by experts who understand how to help a small business survive.
We know how to manage debts and finances well, and our business debt specialists can call Monday to Friday as often as needed.
We supply our clients with more help than just a basic business debtline, though - we can take on all specialised tasks necessary to keep your small business or limited company afloat.
Our business debtline provides the best Monday-to-Friday source of small business support available.
You can contact our specialist advisors any time if you are concerned about your finances - our business debt helpline specialists are on standby and ready to help as needed.
Our business debt helpline offers impartial and reliable advice across all industries. For example:
Provide business debt support.
Help you spot problems before they occur, such as receiving an incorrectly calculated estimated tax bill.
Break down limits and requirements on certain legal documents, such as the annual turnover needed to register for VAT.
Advise you on decisions like entering a company voluntary arrangement.
Help you manage processes like compulsory liquidation.
Contact our business debt specialists today if you need expert help.
Our specialists are more than capable of providing your business with useful information through the business debtline alone.
Directors are not personally liable for company debts, but they can be liable for other parts of the business that may be connected.
This applies to a small business, a limited company, or any other organization where they contribute to the company's overall structure. For example, they are liable for the following:
NI and PAYE contributions.
Income tax that was never paid.
Personal guarantees that were never carried out.
Continuing to trade even after hitting insolvency and having officially ceased trading.
Profiting at the expense of creditors.
Liabilities as a result of the business operating fraudulently while in charge.
No person in a position of power within a company is completely free of responsibility. While a director is not liable by default, they may become liable if the debts are their fault.
Business debt often makes it seem like you should close the business or a limited company.
However, businesses and limited companies of any size need to take certain steps for this to happen. Different circumstances mean that relying on a source of specialist information is the best option.
Applying for liquidation and voluntary closing of the business is one option. However, even this is not always the best way to act, especially if you are unsure how it works.
Our business debt contact can help advise you on the best way forward, having worked with countless businesses and limited companies in similar situations.
Whether you need an insolvency practitioner to manage a company's voluntary arrangement or want more expert advice, our business debt team is a great place to turn.
Major debts do not kill limited companies and small businesses - mistakes and misunderstandings do.
Our business experts can help you manage your debts effectively, regardless of scope and scale.
Contact our business debt advice service if you are struggling with business debt recovery letters and excessive pressure from lenders.
We can help you get back on your feet and balance the books, all while keeping creditors calm and finding a solution to your financial situation.
Getting out of debt means either making more money or filing for insolvency.
While the specifics vary heavily (such as turning to a company voluntary arrangement), these are the main goals to focus on.
Debt is only good if you can get out of it. Most small businesses start at a loss, but making back that money is important.
Financial debt - and the resulting steps taken, like company voluntary arrangement and insolvency - comes from spending more than you make.
Usually, this happens via delayed payments, such as promising a supplier £1,000 that you do not have by the time you need to pay them.
Companies buy debts looking for a positive return.
This usually means buying debts the original debt chasers feel there is no hope of collecting.
In general, you are only liable for debts that you cause. If you make a deal to buy something and do not pay, that is your fault.
If another employee causes the debt through negligence, that is not your fault.