The Insolvency Service newsletter Spring 2021

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Spring 2021


Our strategy for the future

Any organisation that works in a fast-changing environment needs to review its strategy regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we can never be sure of what is around the corner, and we need to find a way to future-proof ourselves against unexpected changes in our economy and the resultant impact on our work.

In the second half of 2020, the Insolvency Service started a review of its strategy, asking the big questions of why we’re here, what challenges and opportunities are in front of us and what we will do to address them.

Our new five-year strategy has been developed with insight and input from across the agency and beyond, and is driven by our leadership team and board members. It aims to ensure we are equipped to innovate and improve the essential services we deliver and is aligned with the wider ambitions of the Civil Service.

Our plan sets out our ambitions to have a forward-thinking and robust agency: an agency that can anticipate economic change, evolve in a volatile operating environment and help the UK economy to thrive, and one which puts our customers and colleagues at the heart of everything we do.

Our vision is for a fair, efficient and effective insolvency system that enables us to provide essential value for money services to those affected by financial distress or failure, whilst playing a vital part in supporting the integrity of the marketplace for business and citizens.

Whilst we are looking forward to sharing more detail of the strategy with you in the near future, we have begun to deliver key elements within it. We have played a key role in the Government’s response to the pandemic, through the introduction of emergency legislation in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, and been a key delivery partner for the development and implementation of Breathing Space, which gives those facing financial difficulties space to receive debt advice, or mental health crisis treatment, without pressure from creditors or mounting debt .

Insolvency Live! 2021

Insolvency Live!

This year Insolvency Live will be taking place on Tuesday 28 September. We are looking to host a hybrid event with guests given the option to either join us at our office in Stratford London or online. Details will follow later in the year.

Please contact to register your interest in the event. Suggestions on what you would like to hear about at the event are also welcome.

New Insolvency Service Board chair and members

We’re pleased to welcome our new Board Chair, Mark Austen, and Non-Executive Directors Gary Kildare, Samantha Durrant and Rob Hunt. The new team bring significant experience from the public and private sector that will be invaluable as we support the country’s pandemic recovery.

Breathing Space up and running

We are pleased to report that the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) launched successfully on 4 May in line with legislation and planned delivery.

Breathing Space will give a person in problem debt vital access to professional advice and a crucial 60 days of ‘breathing space’ to consider the best way forward and an appropriate debt solution for their circumstances. People across England and Wales who are struggling to repay their debts could be eligible, and the Government expects up to 700,000 people to benefit in the first year of the scheme.

The Insolvency Service worked jointly in collaboration with HM Treasury and other government departments, as well as both the Creditor and Money Advice sectors to deliver this vital service for citizens. Around 500 money advice organisations can now offer breathing space to their clients and over 1200 creditor organisations are signed up to use the electronic service. Since the service launched, and to date, 6,250 breathing space submissions have been made.

You can read more about Breathing Space in the press release issued by HM Treasury and the Insolvency Service.

New powers to investigate directors of dissolved companies

The Insolvency Service will be given powers to investigate directors of companies that have been dissolved, acting as a strong deterrent against the misuse of the dissolution process.

The measures included in the Ratings (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill will be retrospective.

This measure extends the investigative powers of the Insolvency Service to include former directors of dissolved companies. Extension of the power to investigate also includes the relevant sanctions such as disqualification from acting as a company director for a period of time.

The ability to disqualify unfit directors is vital to protect the business community and members of the public from individuals who have demonstrated that they are unfit to be concerned in the management of a limited company. It is also an important deterrent to directors abusing the benefit of limited liability, and in this respect is part of a suite of measures contained in company, insolvency, and governance legislation designed to protect creditors.

Extending the disqualification regime to former directors of dissolved companies will also act as a strong deterrent against using the dissolution process as a method of fraudulently avoiding repayment of Government backed loans given to businesses to support them during the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes loans made under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme and represents part of the package of measures designed to combat Bounce Back Loan fraud announced by the Chancellor in Budget 2021.

IVA Protocol updated

A new version of the IVA protocol has been published. Insolvency practitioners who administer IVAs are being given advance warning of the updated protocol so that they can update their systems and procedures, as well as train their staff, before IVAs drafted compliant with the 2016 protocol will no longer be proposed to creditors after 21 July 2021.

New Technical Guidance for Official Receivers published

We’ve published our Technical Guidance for Official Receivers on The guidance replaces the previous format published as the ‘Technical Manual’.  

Recent enforcement activity

Bankrupt fraudulently secured £26,000 credit for dissolved business then claimed the debtor was a man in Malta.

Cardiff director who illegally managed several companies during his 8-year ban has been sentenced.

Harlow director disqualified for 7 years after he cleared the bank account of a letting company following its liquidation.

Brothers James and William Moir join their father as disqualified directors after £14m worth of investments were taken for holiday chalets never built or owned.

Banned roofers sentenced after being caught illegally running a company, while also leaving one family without a roof having run off with their money.

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