We want to do well by doing good. This year we are proud to be members of Heart of the City. They are supporting us to develop a responsible business programme that will help us have a positive impact on people, places and the planet.

During 2019 we will be developing activities around connecting with and supporting our local community, making sure our business practices are environmentally friendly and improving our workplace for employees. We are excited to keep you updated with what we are doing!

In February 2017, PCR reported on the significant rise in personal insolvencies, with a gargantuan 90,930 personal insolvencies being recorded in 2016. Not only were the results alarming, but they were also the highest recorded since 2010.

We cited several reasons as to why the figures were so high, most notably with individuals taking advantage of the cheap credit available to them and the low interest rates, seeing a plethora of households inadvertently over-stretch themselves. Furthermore, a report published by the Money Advice Service in 2016 highlighted young adults, single parents those renting their homes or part of a larger family as those most likely to be affected by severe debt.

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Providers of Self-invested Personal Pensions schemes (SIPPs) are facing an uncertain future following the decision of Berkeley Burke v Financial Ombudsman Service which has led to an increase in the number of targeted visits by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The justification of such visits was to assess whether the business model actually complied with its requirements, with the FCA arguing that it had continually identified “serious and ongoing failings”.

The FCA’s findings reported that, in particular, relating to non-mainstream propositions in which the SIPP providers allowed the pensions to be invested into were typically unregulated, high risk and highly illiquid investments - such transfers or switches were unlikely to be suitable for the vast majority of retail customers. Examples of these propositions include overseas property developments, store pods and forestry. In addition, allegations have been made that advisers’ understanding on non-mainstream propositions were also typically lacking, mainly due to inadequate due diligence on the products and on the product provider.

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In the summer of last year, PCR discussed the difficult market conditions for many businesses who were facing an uncertain future, with the likelihood of an expected rise in insolvencies as a result. 

Several businesses were, in fact, continuing to face a ‘squeeze’ due to a number of factors, including the continued growth of online shopping, rising labour costs and business rates, and the drop in consumer spending in the midst of economic uncertainty. In particular, it was the retail and restaurant sectors which were mainly affected, as the high street continued to be a difficult place to trade for numerous retailers and food outlets alike. However, this has not been a surprise to those who have kept a close eye on the retail sector, with the warning signs already there.

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At the start of last month, we commented on the rise of insolvencies which had hit the construction industry, citing Carillion’s collapse at the start of the year as a significant factor. Not only was this a blow to the industry itself, but thousands of subcontractors lost work and were left with significant debt when the multinational outsourcing provider that held numerous contracts on various projects across the UK went into compulsory liquidation. However, it is not only the construction industry which has been hit hard, with many other industries, such as the retail sector, also experiencing extremely challenging times.

With the reported surge of insolvencies, our focus of attention brings us to the once booming UK restaurant industry, highlighting some of the major factors which have left a “dark cloud” hanging over the industry. In addition to this, it appears as if a new phenomenon is also now impacting the industry in a negative manner.

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