PayPlan supports Time to Talk Day, the nation’s biggest mental health campaign

Time to Talk Day is quickly approaching and there are plenty of ways to get involved and raise awareness of support for mental health-related problems including the impact debt can have and how best to support people struggling with both their finances and their mental health.

Time to Talk Day, on Thursday 2nd February, highlights the importance of creating supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, or colleagues about mental health. The campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and has become the nation’s biggest mental health awareness event in the country.

At PayPlan, we understand that mental health and mental illness can be closely intertwined with debt. Problem debt can be a major worry for many people and being in a poor financial situation can trigger or add to mental health problems.

The following could be signs someone is suffering with their mental health:

  • Feeling sad, down or like nothing matters
  • Not able to perform daily tasks
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Frequently tired, low or no energy
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs
  • Extreme mood swings, yelling, fighting
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on-edge, angry, upset, worried or scared
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Hearing voices or believing things that aren’t true

How can you support somebody who might be facing mental health struggles?

Express concern and offer a helping hand

Letting someone know you’re worried is a good way to open up a conversation – it shows you care about the person, have time for them and that they do not have to avoid things with you. Listening is an important skill. Ask open questions that start with “how”, “what”, “where” or “when”. This can help people open up.

Act as you usually do together

Do what you usually do – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated. Do not be afraid to offer kind words and a space to talk, whether by phone, messaging or in person. You will not always know the full story. There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later. Do not force someone to talk to you or get help, and do not go to a doctor on their behalf. This may lead to them feeling uncomfortable, with less power and less ability to speak for themselves.

Understanding the support available

If you need help or are concerned about your health, then get in touch with a medical expert. While we can help to reduce your money worries, here are a number of specialist mental health organisations that may be able to support you:

  • Campaign against living miserably (CALM) – is leading a movement against suicide. Speak to a member of the helpline team, call 0800 58 58 58
  • SHOUT – the UK’s first 24/7 text service, which is free on all major mobile networks. It’s a place to go to if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. You can get in touch by texting 85258
  • Samaritans – for anyone who needs to talk to somebody anytime they like, in their own way, and off the record – about whatever is getting to them. They don’t have to be suicidal. Call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Rethink Mental Illness – if you need practical help on issues such as mental health, community care, welfare benefits, medication or living with mental illness, contact Rethink Mental Illness by visiting their website to find your local branch
  • MIND – advice and support for anyone who is suffering from mental health issues (depression, bi-polar, anxiety, suicide ideation, psychosis). Call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463

Look after yourself

It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Be kind to yourself and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy. You can also be there for them in other ways, like cooking for them, going for a walk or watching a film together. A chat may come more naturally if you are doing something together first.

Understanding the link between mental health and debt

Debt problems and poor mental health can often be closely intertwined. We understand 82% of people contacting us for help with their debts said money worries were impacting their mental health at the time. So, as you can imagine, helping people to improve their mental health is a subject very close to our hearts.

Sam – who now works as an adviser for PayPlan helping others – explains how he struggled with debt himself in the past, how he managed to clear his debts and improve his mental health.

“I gave myself sleepless nights, from trying to ignore the [debt] problem and not doing anything about it – which quite honestly was due to pride and embarrassment,” Sam explains. “My mental health was affected too as the situation caused me to suffer from severe depression, anxiety and stress.

“My life had changed in just a few months, and I was really struggling – especially as my nan passed away during this time too. I approached the doctor and started getting help. I’m well on the road to recovery, but I think it’s really important to encourage people to speak about their mental health.”

How can we all make a difference on Time to Talk Day?

At PayPlan, we’re supporting the campaign through our social media presence and urging people to engage in conversations about mental health and debt. This could be at your local community centre, your sports club, your workplace and your family or friends. You don’t need a degree in listening to lend an ear.

How do businesses overcome the issue of late invoice payments?

Late payments remain one of the biggest challenges for businesses. Smaller and independent organisations help underpin the UK economy and rely heavily on a steady stream of revenue coming in every month – helped in no small part by the speedy, accurate processing of invoices.

New data suggests invoices aren’t being paid on time, or even at all. Late payments for small businesses in the UK have hit a two-year high, with calls for tougher punishments and tighter regulations for companies that continue to pay late.

And with a recession currently hitting the UK economy, paying invoices isn’t just polite, it’s critical for businesses to keep their heads above stormy waters.

Yet the issue of late payments refuses to go away. A recent survey of 200 UK finance leaders found that 35% paid vendors late due to manual accounts payable systems, with slow processes (45%), administrative errors (45%), and having to validate invoices (37%) the biggest reasons for doing so.

What’s causing late payments?

While it might be just a small percentage of rogue businesses that continue to pay late, it still has a large impact. 40% of UK businesses said they are constantly under pressure because of late payments. This is a reduction of around 7% over 10 years, but each business was owed an average of £22,000.

Despite tools that can automate and streamline payments, there are still accounting and finance departments out there that are using manual processes and Excel spreadsheets to manage their finances. One small mistake can lead to days or weeks’ worth of delays, adding to the already huge pressure businesses are currently under.

The impact of remote, hybrid, and home working has also disrupted traditional working practices. 47% of finance leaders said the change in the working environment had affected their ability to process invoices on time, with many lacking the ability to see and manage payments outside of the office.

Overall, a lack of new tech investment has led to finance teams being under-equipped to deal with the speed of modern-day processes. The finance team needs to work like a well-oiled machine, but without the proper tools, work is more likely to grind to a halt.

A helping hand

Speaking on the lack of automation within UK finance, Becki Roberts, national head of cloud accounting at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Anywhere where we’re doing things over and over again, there’s an opportunity for some of that human element to be taken out of it. Then there’s your bottom line. If you’re paying qualified, intelligent people to do processes that they don’t need to be doing, that’s going to have a massive impact on your profit.”

And she’s right. Right now, there are too many accounting and finance professionals spending valuable amounts of their time on repetitive tasks that could be done faster and more accurately than humans on a day-to-day basis.

Automation within finance is growing, but seemingly not fast enough. In June 2021, 20% of organisations across all sectors had adopted automation, increasing from 13% in 2020. And, with 94% of Deloitte’s Q4 2021 Global CFO Survey expecting their company’s investment in digital technology to increase, this figure is only expected to rise.

By removing the need for staff to spend hours digging through invoices or entering data into Excel spreadsheets, and instead having them foster better supplier relationships or critical reporting tasks, we can realise benefits to the bottom line while reshaping the traditional role of accounts payable.

Solving the late payments issue

Could the issue of late payments be a thing of the past if end-to-end automation was embraced across all businesses? It’s too hard to say for definite, but it would certainly benefit relationships with suppliers and vendors.

Plus, we’re already seeing an improvement. The time taken to process and approve vendor invoices has decreased by 37% and 45% respectively over the past 12 months according to the research, leading to suggestions that businesses are finally overcoming the issue of late payments.

The role of accounts payable in helping process on-time payments cannot be understated. No one else within a business has the experience and view on cash flow and forecasting than AP staff. By allowing automation to handle and manage invoices, we can free up their time and skills to be focused on the tasks that matter, safeguarding businesses against the issue of late payments.

Laurent Charpentier, CEO at Yooz

Scottish small business confidence down again as cost of doing business crisis endures

Scotland’s small business confidence fell again in the final quarter of 2022, latest figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show.

The small business group’s Small Business Index (SBI) now sits at -50 points for Scotland, down on the -45 reported the previous quarter.  It is also significantly lower than the same quarter in 2021 (-22).

The equivalent UK-wide confidence figure is -45.8, which is also down on the previous quarter (-35.9), but 4.1 points ahead of Scotland.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland Policy Chair, said: “Scotland’s small business community has endured an unprecedented sequence of challenges over the last two and a half years. Rising inflation, increasing energy prices, and staff shortages to name a few. The constant battle to just survive during this cost of doing business crisis means it is no surprise that confidence levels are now at their lowest on record, outside of Covid lockdowns.

“Small business owners are a steadfast bunch and keep swimming against the tide of economic uncertainty. But they need help to keep their heads above water. It is therefore vital that governments in Holyrood and Westminster focus on support and stability by pausing the introduction of new regulations, supporting sectors most in need and reconsidering the energy cost support on offer after March.

“This refocussing would help develop an operating environment with, if not certainty, then at least less turmoil; and an environment where small businesses can survive, and even thrive, and drive the economic growth needed to get the economy back on its feet.”

The SBI also shows that almost nine out of every ten businesses (86.2%) have seen a sizeable change in their business costs over the last 12 months, with increases in fuel and utilities the most common drivers.

Almost half of businesses (42%) expect to run below capacity over the next three months and only a third (32.7%) are expecting to grow in the next 12 months.

It is worth noting that this survey was taken in December 2022, before the announcement by UK Government that business support for energy costs would be cut significantly from April.

Appointment of Administrators at Bluespot Furniture Ltd

James Sleight and Oliver Collinge of PKF GM were appointed as Administrators of Bluespot Furniture Ltd on 20 January 2023.

Bluespot Furniture was a long-established UK furniture manufacturer in the commercial interiors, student accommodation, build-to-rent and house building markets. The Company designed, manufactured and installed furniture from production facilities in Dewsbury.

Following a sustained decline in turnover and the sale by its landlord of its trading premises the Company ceased trading, with the redundancy of its entire workforce, prior to the appointment of Administrators. The Administrators are now arranging for a sale of the Company’s remaining assets.

James Sleight, Joint Administrator said: “Unfortunately the demand for office furniture was understandably very low during Covid and is not expected to recover to pre pandemic levels.

“The Company had obtained support under various government schemes during the pandemic and with low demand, rising costs and pandemic debt to repay, the directors did not feel the business was sufficiently viable to justify continued trade.

“Following our appointment we are now supporting employees in accessing government redundancy support and seeking to maximise realisations through a disposal of the remaining Company assets and collection of its book debt ledger.

“This is the second appointment over an office furniture manufacturer we’ve had since the pandemic. This sector is clearly experiencing significant challenges with the rise in hybrid and home working.”

Almost a quarter of StepChange Scotland clients report the cost of living as the driver of their debt problems

StepChange Debt Charity Scotland client data for the fourth quarter of 2022 shows the cost of living increase was the leading cause of debt for almost a quarter (23%) of its new clients. This is more than double the figure in the first quarter of 2022 (10%), reflecting the upward pressures people have been facing despite government intervention and other support.

Energy arrears have continued to rise among StepChange Scotland clients, so much so that in Q4 electricity arrears (36%) overtook council tax arrears (33%) as the most common arrears type held by Scottish clients. Between Q1 and Q4 of 2022, the proportion of clients with electricity arrears rose by 8 percentage points from 28% to 36%.

By the end of the year, more clients were experiencing a negative budget, meaning that even after a debt advice session and budget counselling, their expenses exceeded their income. Between Q3 and Q4 the proportion of clients with a negative budget increased by two percentage points from 34% to 36%.

StepChange Scotland has also seen a slight increase in the proportion of new clients who are homeowners. In Q4 the charity saw the highest proportion of homeowners in 2022, with around one in five (19%) clients being homeowners.

To address the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis, and the high prices for essentials that households continue to face, StepChange Scotland is urging the Scottish and UK Governments to go further to protect low-income households from mounting problem debt.

Sharon Bell, Head of StepChange Debt Charity Scotland, said: “We are seeing incredibly high client volumes at the moment, and while a seasonal upturn in demand for debt advice is normal in the new year, such high demand may be an indicator that people’s ability to keep up with the huge price rises we saw last year is waning, with more falling behind on household bills.

“In particular, the incidence of energy arrears among our clients is concerning, especially as it may be a while before we start to see significant reductions in the price of gas and electricity.

“We’re urging the Scottish Government to work alongside public bodies to take a measured approach towards debt enforcement, reducing harmful practices that push people into further financial difficulty. Firms should be proactive in identifying customers who are struggling to offer them additional support and signpost to money advice services.

“With energy debt remaining high, the UK Government must be mindful of how households will cope once the average price of energy rises in April, and the energy support scheme comes to an end. While some support for low-income households will stay, it falls short of what was previously offered and exposes many more households to potential financial difficulty.”

Scotland insolvency statistics Q3 2022, R3 in Scotland response

Overall, corporate insolvency numbers (liquidations and receiverships) in Scotland for Q3 2022-2023 increased by 13.3% compared with Q3 2021-2022. The number of corporate insolvencies (liquidations and receiverships) in Scotland for Q3 2022-2023 increased by 0.7% compared with the previous quarter (July-September 2022).

Overall, personal insolvency numbers (bankruptcies and protected trust deeds) in Scotland for Q3 2022-2023 decreased by 4.9% compared with Q3 2021-2022. The number of personal insolvencies (bankruptcies and protected trust deeds) in Scotland for Q3 2022-2023 decreased by 5.2% compared with the previous quarter (July-September 2022).

Commenting on the Scottish Insolvency Statistics, Q3 2022 (1 October 2022 to 31 December 2022), Richard Bathgate, Chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 in Scotland andRestructuring Partner at Johnston Carmichael, said: “The quarterly and yearly rise in corporate insolvencies has largely been driven by an increase in compulsory liquidations, which have increased by 72% from the same time last year.

“This suggests that companies across the supply chain are feeling the pinch and that creditors are now prepared to take the legal route to recover the debts they are owed, perhaps in order to pay their own bills and satisfy their own creditors.

“There’s a feeling of real uncertainty in the Scottish business community at the moment. With talks of recession, low consumer confidence and rising costs, a lot of directors aren’t confident about their prospects for the year ahead, which is likely to be full of the same persistent challenges faced since the pandemic ended.

“While consumer spending went up over the festive period, the boost wasn’t enough for every business, with the extra income offset by rising fuel, rent and raw material costs.

“With Christmas now out of the way, people are really looking at how they can cut back on their spending so while all sectors are under immense strain, it’s likely we’ll see businesses in retail, hospitality and other sectors that are dependent on discretionary spending struggle this year.

“It’s been a volatile couple of years, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. As we move into 2023, firms need to consider their situation, prepare for what’s on the horizon and act if they run into cashflow problems, issues with paying staff, rent or taxes, or see their stock start to pile up.

“When it comes to personal insolvency, the quarterly and yearly fall has been driven by a drop in all forms of personal insolvency processes – with bankruptcies falling 10% from Q3 last year.

“This suggests that the cost-of-living crisis has yet to translate into an increase in personal insolvencies, but despite the fall in numbers, rising food prices, rent and mortgage costs are still huge pain points for people in Scotland who are finding themselves paying significantly more each month on just the everyday essentials.

“Prices at the pump are starting to come down, but consumers are still battling against sky-rocketing household energy bills – an issue which is only set to get worse in March when the energy support scheme comes to an end.

“The true impact of rising interest rates on mortgage payments remains something of an unknown but is likely to add to household woes as existing mortgage products come to an end forcing customers onto products with higher rates.

“There’s a real danger that people will begin to turn to credit options to cover these rising cost pressures, and that we’ll see more and more people driven into problem debt, and more vulnerable to the kind of unexpected shocks that can lead them to become insolvent.

“To anyone in Scotland facing money worries – whether business owner or individual – it’s important that you don’t keep your concerns to yourself and seek advice as soon as you can. It may be easier said than done, but by opening up to a professional about your concerns, you’ll have more potential options and more time to take a considered decision about your next steps.

“Most R3 members are more than happy to sit down for a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns and outline the potential options for improving your situation.”

Scottish insolvencies rise, but credit pressure yet to reach pre-pandemic levels – comments

“The number of Scottish companies entering insolvency has increased again, according to the AiB’s latest figures, and that upward trend is set to continue.

“Overall insolvencies are up both when compared with year-on-year and pre-Covid levels. What is interesting to see, though, is that creditor pressure has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels – although year-on-year levels of compulsory liquidations have increased, this is still lower than what was typical during 2019-2020.

“The cost-of-living crisis is yet to take its full toll on Scottish businesses, and I expect increased numbers again next quarter. While it is good to see that overall numbers of insolvencies are returning to a ‘healthy’ pre-pandemic level – meaning that some directors are properly dealing with longer term business issues – the rise in compulsory liquidations is a sign that there is more to come.

“Good quality, regularly updated, and stress tested management information is crucial for the long-term survival of any business. Directors should proactively take advice from professional advisors to ensure that creditor pressure does not suddenly become an insurmountable burden.”

Steven Jansch, head of insolvency at Gilson Gray

The full update from AiB is here: https://www.aib.gov.uk/scottish-statutory-debt-solution-statistics-2022-23-q3

Yooz Celebrates Another Year of Big Wins

Yooz, a leading purchase-to-pay (P2P) automation provider, is accelerating into 2023 with a growing list of key clients, growing loyal customer base, internal growth, global recognition and prestigious industry and workplace awards – further positioning the company as a top solution in the FinTech industry.

Customer Wins

New key clients helped propel the company into 2023, including Paula’s Choice, a popular worldwide skincare brand and FREE NOW a mobility app with more than 56 million users across 16 countries and over 170 cities.

At FREE NOW, the implementation process started with Austria, the country that had at that time the smallest number of invoices. Once the teams felt comfortable with Yooz and the new processes, other entities followed with the same logic: countries with smaller volumes of invoices first – such as Poland, France, UK, Ireland, Spain Portugal, Italy, Austria and Romania – and the biggest one, Germany, at the end.

In total FREE NOW onboarded 10 subsidiaries in 6 months! “The accounting team used to spend one to two weeks processing an invoice as they had to juggle with different systems. Getting approval could take a long time as well. Now the whole process only takes 3 to 4 days,” says Mira Karp, subledger accountant at FREE NOW.

Growth and Strategic Changes

Alongside Yooz’s external accomplishments, the company announced earlier this year that former COO/CIO Laurent Charpentier was appointed global CEO of Yooz. The move supported the unparalleled international growth the company has seen over the last year, a trend predicted to continue in 2023.

Yooz also announced a slate of new product features this year, including goods reception, in-app chat, enhanced search capabilities and invoice attachment management – a feature unique to Yooz that was created to make faster, better-informed decisions easier than previously possible.

“Our unrivalled growth this year and latest features further speak to how Yooz truly listens to our client’s needs and is leading the charge to anticipate the rest of the market’s needs as well,” said Charpentier. “Looking ahead, Yooz is planning to home in on helping our global customer base cushion the blow of inflation and support initiatives for more efficient and cost-effective processes – helping spur both Yooz and our customers toward sustainable innovation and prosperity into next year and beyond.”

Awards and Recognitions

Spend Matters, a research-based publication dedicated to examining procurement and supply chain issues, released its annual 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch for in 2022. Yooz has consistently caught the eye of the publication’s team of technology analysts as an up-and-coming procurement player and was named one of the Top 50 Providers to Watch for the fifth time. This award is given to recipients following a 12-month assessment conducted by the publication’s analysts to determine the best-in-class, high-momentum players in the industry.

Along with this distinction, Yooz was awarded both high user adoption and a high mid-market performer G2 badge, based solely on favourable customer reviews – further highlighting Yooz’s growing prominence in the marketplace and their commitment to their customers.

In November, Yooz was announced as the Document Manager Awards 2022 winner of the Accounts Payable/Invoicing Product of the Year, the outcome of exceptional work and collaboration of every member of the Yooz team as well as the research and innovation implemented in the slate of new product features released in 2022.

Yooz also garnered recognition from Great Place to Work® for the second consecutive year, an award given based on anonymous employee feedback. This year, 93% of Yoozers said Yooz is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at a typical company – highlighting Yooz’s continual dedication to fostering an upbeat working environment.

“Our entire team has been working so hard to provide the best solutions and user experience for our customers,” said Laurent Charpentier, Yooz CEO. “It’s always an honour to receive recognition for our efforts, especially one that coincides with our own internal initiative to cultivate a positive and inclusive workplace.”

Payments Fintech Paysend attracts Top Executive from Amex

One of the UK’s most experienced Financial Services marketers, Rupert Bedell has joined Paysend as the Chief Marketing Officer, completing Paysend’s Exco line-up.

Rupert Bedell previously led B2B marketing at American Express for EMEA, where he oversaw huge digital acquisition growth in the last 4 years, whilst overhauling the credit card provider’s digital channels. Bedell began his career at Barclays before moving on to lead B2B Marketing at RBS, where he led the recovery of NatWest as a business brand.

Abdul Kerimov, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Paysend, said, “Rupert brings huge experience of marketing to Paysend. We are now a genuinely global business enabling consumers in 175 countries to benefit from market leading money transfer services and I look forward to Rupert now contributing to our further success. I am delighted to welcome him to the executive team.”

Commenting on the appointment Rupert Bedell added, “I’m hugely excited to be joining this emerging business, for what will be a very different kind of challenge. Paysend has incredible potential, in terms of product strength and the international footprint it has already built in just 5 years of operation. This is a fast-moving sector, but I believe Paysend’s development speed and scalability will give us real advantage. The challenge is now to get the brand on the international map as quickly as possible.”

Paysend Partners with JMMB Money Transfer to Make Payments in Jamaica from the UK, US and Canada

Paysend, the UK-based fintech company, with over 8 million customers, announces a technology partnership with JMMB Money Transfer, a subsidiary of JMMB Group, to provide secure and affordable deposit-to-account transfers to family and friends in Jamaica. Jamaicans can now receive remittances from their loved ones in the UK, USA, and Canada via the Paysend App.

Alex Bessonov, Group Head of Network Development and Strategic Partnerships at Paysend, said, “This partnership between JMMB Money Transfer and Paysend will encourage users all over the globe, namely the UK, USA, and Canada, to connect across borders and send money to support loved ones in Jamaica. They will experience more affordable rates and quicker processing speeds when sending remittances. Through Paysend’s easy-to-use app, automated phone number, and text ID verification, users can benefit from a quick and simple onboarding process, allowing them to make transfers through the Paysend platform immediately.”

In Jamaica, family and friends can access the funds sent via bank transfer on the same day, in a convenient and secure way. Additionally, this payment method gives Jamaicans receiving funds from Paysend, the added convenience of using an ATM at any time to access their money, or they may opt to make online purchases or payments. Senders will benefit from features such as low fixed fees, upfront exchange rates, fast transfer speeds, and the ability to make instant, digital end-to-end international payments.

Sharon Gibson, CEO of JMMB Money Transfer said, “We are happy to forge this partnership with Paysend, as it gives Jamaicans in the diaspora more seamless and safe options to send money to family and other loved ones. This move is synonymous with JMMB’s promise to deliver value-added service that improves our clients’ experience. The Paysend partnership embraces innovative technology to deliver convenient and affordable services to our clients,” Gibson explains.

“This partnership is in line with our strategic focus to further deepen our market share through our international partners in major source markets to meet the increasing demand for our services across the world,” Gibson continues.