Our fingers are raw in the NTI newsroom this afternoon (Friday 29 January). There is so much activity as the evening closes in.
The CPI results are in and the IPA have gifted us and the November 2020 students a 70 per cent national pass rate, although we are chipper as crickets to announce that NTI result so far looks to be cresting 80 per cent, and we have ambitions well north of that. Special congratulations to our two (out of two) prize winning students (first place for the fabulous Ruth from BDO with a stonking 88 per cent ... about 60 per cent better than Neil could do!).
The IPA had a tough call to make after the many challenges of the exam on 20 November, and appear to have judged it about right with all the work they have done to get the result out pretty fairly and on time. There are some very personal exceptions to this. At NTI we do not think you can fail candidates who are reported to do so by just a few marks, and whose preparation and revision would have been decimated by seriously flawed exam software and invigilation failure. The stress and anxiety cause some suffered in this situation is probably incalculable, yet the IPA have tried to enumerate it by giving it a number. If this was a book, there would be at least two more chapters to read before the end of the story.
Colin Haig has also put in a few hours this week, masterminding R3's response to the Annual Insolvency Statistics 2020. These are not as eagerly awaited as 'No Time To Die', but surely they must strongly reflect the extraordinary year we all suffered? In a word; No. And in another; yes.
There were 12,557 underlying corporate insolvencies in 2020 - a fall of 27.1 per cent from 2019's figure of 17,224. Colin points out to us that this is the lowest total figure for more than a decade and reflects a decrease in all types of company insolvency. "But how Colin? Do you have a view on this?"
"The most significant factors behind it are the support measures the Government has introduced for businesses since the onset of the pandemic and the suspension of creditors' ability to take action against many corporate debtors."
"Oh, so the standard view everyone has been talking about since the second day after the first lockdown then?"
There was a little more sense to the reported numbers between Quarters 3 and 4, with an increase in corporate insolvency numbers by almost 17 per cent, suggesting that the Covid grip could be getting more scrotal, but whilst they were up they were still way down on comparable numbers from the same quarter in 2019. We turn again to Colin to make some sense of all this:
"The next 12 months are likely to be challenging for businesses."
"Hmm. Okay. Any thoughts about the evenings getting lighter as we move towards spring?"
"It's R3's policy to say they almost certainly will do."
So, what about the personal insolvency numbers? There were 111,424 personal insolvencies in 2020, representing a fall of 8.6 per cent on 2019's figure of 121,882. As for corporate, personal insolvency numbers increased between Quarters 3 and 4, but more markedly. They were up by 57.2 per cent. Okay, Colin, this is your opportunity to redeem yourself. As the spokesperson for the lead insolvency body, give us your thoughts:
"The year-on-year decrease in personal insolvency levels is due to a fall in Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Order numbers."
"So, the fall in numbers is due to a fall in numbers?"
"Well, the pandemic has hit people's finances hard."
"Government initiatives like the furlough scheme, coupled with payment holidays from banks and other lenders, have provided a critical safety net for many, but sadly these can't last forever and haven't been able to help everyone."
"People with money worries should speak to a reputable and professional source."
"Do you think these sources will be as helpful as you have been in your astute explanation of these statistics?"