The Corporate Strategies team at Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group passed an important milestone this month, chalking up 20 years of business rescue for hundreds of UK SMEs.
Leonard Curtis specialises in corporate restructuring and insolvency, personal debt advice, equity and debt finance raising for SMEs, property solutions and legal services.
Led by experienced senior manager Ric Miller, this arm of the business has spent two decades working with accountants and business owners on strategies to rescue and recover operations.
One of the key strands to the insolvency avoidance work is securing Time To Pay (TTP) arrangements with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Since 2001, the Corporate Strategies team has helped reschedule over £160m worth of unpaid tax through 1200 TTP deals. With a current acceptance rate of 100%, it’s one of the leading players in this niche sector.
Most work has come from the manufacturing, haulage, professional services and recruitment sectors for businesses employing over 40,000 people.
Richard commented: “In 20 years you learn a lot about how HMRC operates and responds to market conditions. For example, a five-year TTP arrangement was not uncommon in 2001, but by the crash in 2008 anything over 12 months was difficult to secure.”
He continued: “The introduction of real time information on PAYE has given the revenue a lot more visibility in recent years, it is quicker to react to situations now and businesses are just not able to rack up unpaid tax in the same way. But that, of course, was pre-pandemic.
“HMRC has been very preoccupied with job retention scheme grants in the last 12 months – with many staff redeployed from normal duties – but with £30 billion owed on the VAT deferment scheme alone, we expect this to change very quickly.”
Ric predicts that servicing debt in general will become the priority for many SMEs as they emerge from this crisis. He added: “It will be our job to help secure extended terms to avoid good businesses failing.”
Since 2016 the Corporate Strategies team has also helped many SME owners successfully apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS), which provides interest-free cash for up to three years, with no security required.
Ric again: “If you can get these loans agreed, business owners can do right by their staff, pay them out and regroup. It gives clarity to everyone at a critical time and often helps avoid insolvency and save jobs in the long-term. We have seen a big increase in enquiries for this service as people start to plan ahead for the end of the furlough scheme on 30th September.”
Today Ric’s four-strong team works out of the Leonard Curtis head office in Manchester, alongside professional colleagues in the firm’s UK 18-office network and external referrers.
As well as HMRC TTP and RPS loans, Assistant Manager Joe Douglas, and Corporate Strategies Assistants Collette Murray and Max Richardson handle general debt advisory, creditor and landlord negotiations, business rates, and HP agreements. The team is often called upon by lenders to assist with the preparing of cashflow forecasts for clients.
Ric continues: “The business has been built on a straightforward fixed fee basis which looks after everyone’s interests and, wherever possible, ensures the client is still trading.
Paul Cooney, Managing Director of flexible finance provider Zodeq, said: “I have worked with Corporate Strategies for many years – most recently, over the past five years, since launching Zodeq. Ric and the team are our go-to firm should our 160 UK SME clients find themselves with short-term financial stress – particularly in relation to HMRC pressure.
“Time and again, through their professionalism and expertise in dealing with these situations, they work closely with our SME clients to get things back on track. This is especially important to us as a funder, as it gives us the confidence to continue to support our clients through difficult periods. I would not hesitate to recommend Corporate Strategies to companies and lenders across the UK.”
Leonard Curtis Director Dan Booth commented: “This team has seen excellent growth in recent years and was one of our first ever departments in 2001. It is the ultimate rescue and recovery service, regularly putting strategies in place to ensure businesses can continue to trade.
“They have established their reputation for quality and integrity in the accountancy and wider financial sector. They are also trusted by senior officers at HMRC who know that TTP arrangements from us are backed up with robust business plans and realistic forecasting.”
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