Insolvency Service

Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Business and Regulatory Reform)

I meet regularly with the chief executive of the Insolvency Service to discuss the agency's performance and measures to improve it. I also agree the targets for the agency's performance, which are set after discussions with an external steering board of industry experts. I ensure that the service is set goals that, although achievable, are challenging.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Chair, Children, Schools and Families Committee, Chair, Children, Schools and Families Committee

You are very generous, Mr. Speaker.

Will my hon. Friend take on board the fact that for many small businesses the system for individual bankruptcies is cruel and punitive? Big consultancy firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers charge £200 an hour; indeed, a constituent was charged £800 for a letter to be answered. What is going wrong when these big companies can leech money from small people?

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Business and Regulatory Reform)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. An important part of the Government's approach is to develop alternatives to formal bankruptcy procedures, through debt management plans and debt relief orders. We intend to offer a range of help to individuals and businesses, to enable them to avoid the formal procedures for insolvency, if at all possible.