The comments came as reforms were published in a DTI white paper on Tuesday proposing new bankruptcy laws, more funding for start-ups and new plans for education, but leaving Crown creditors with their preferential creditor status.
Commenting on the bankruptcy proposals, Neil Cooper, president of insolvency experts’ body INSOL International, said to encourage a rescue culture, the government must address ‘things that stop the rescue culture from working such as Crown preferential treatment’.
‘Since the preferential creditors sometimes absorb all the assets,’ he said, ‘Crown preferential treatment can stop deals from being done with creditors. If the crown didn’t have preferential status then the Revenue might be more diligent in pursuing people who owe it money.’
Cooper said the increased punishment of rogue directors helped the rescue culture, but saw drawbacks in disqualifying others for one year instead of them remaining undischarged bankrupts for three years.
Being restricted from directing a company, according to Cooper ‘is a serious drawback for some people’. He believes it will make bankrupts more reluctant to negotiate with creditors. ‘Right now people are prepared to pay to avoid bankruptcy for three years, [as people can easily find something else to do for a year].’
A better way of encouraging business, he said, would be to reduce red tape, which cripples small businesses, and to educate people in handling credit.
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