It has been a focus of governments over many years to tackle the late payment of debts by customers. Whilst some of the innovations, including the ability to impose interest on late paid debts, have assisted in a minor way, these methods do not take into account the commercial realities faced by most small businesses.

Let’s face it, if your customer is a large company and key to your business, you are unlikely to take aggressive recovery steps if they pay their bills late as you would, quite rightly, be concerned at losing their business. This can then entail seeking financial products to bridge the payment gap, thereby reducing your profit margins. This, combined often with competitive tendering for some contracts, can even force some businesses to the brink of insolvency.

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The number of residential care home occupants currently stands at 426,000, according to Laing Buisson’s recent statistics. Those over 65 years of age make up 405,000 of the total; a figure which could reasonably be expected to rise given our ever increasing life expectancies. However, many care homes are now under severe financial pressure, and with up to a third facing the threat of insolvency, serious consideration needs to be given to the future of the care industry.

Staffing is the largest cost for care homes, amounting to roughly two thirds of total expenses. The industry has come under pressure in recent years due to reports of inadequate care and even abuse of patients, however filling rotas with competent staff is not an easy task. NHS training places for nurses have been reduced in the past 2 years, and currently no programme exists to enable care workers to train within the care homes themselves to become qualified nurses. The industry is therefore failing to attract enough young and career driven trainees, and is generally populated with staff and nurses who are considerably older than those in hospitals. Furthermore, establishments are increasingly forced to rely on more expensive agency workers to fill the gaps, increasing the overall staff costs.

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…welcome back pop pickers! Yes I’m still mired in the 80’s but it’s my blog so I’ll cry if I want to. You surely all remember Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and its naff but catchy theme tune, but who now remembers that it was the band Berlin who played the song?

But I digress; it’s time to review the Insolvency Service’s latest statistics for the period July to September 2015. Yup, you guessed, they don’t take my breath away, there’s no radical shift this time round. If Q2 showed a continuing downward trend in the number of corporate and individual insolvencies then it’s no surprise that Q3 follows suit.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) having analysed the five year history of 34 million card holders has reported that credit card customers with persistent debt but who manage to make minimum repayments are receiving little help from credit card firms.

The FCA commented that these customers should be encouraged to pay off their debt when they could. 40,000 individuals were interviewed about their credit card use and the the FCA’s interim findings were as follows:

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Although it has been generally in decline for the last 30 years manufacturing is still a valuable part of the UK economy and in 2013 the UK steel industry was worth £6bn a year of which £4.9bn was generated by exports. It employed 20,000 employees - but increasingly it had been having less of an impact on the UK economy; in 1990 UK Steel represented 0.5% of UK economic output but now it is down to less than 0.1%.

Annual UK steel production is 12m tonnes whereas China produces 780m tonnes (48% of the world output). China has become the world’s steel producing behemoth and on the back of China’s rapid economic growth world steel production actually rose 96% between 2000 and 2014; mainly driven by China’s state investment in steel plants to provide the steel for China’s huge growth in infrastructure.

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