Profits fall sharply at Carpenters Group

Merseyside legal and insurance specialist Carpenters Group saw pre-tax profits fall from £5.4m in 2020 to just £3,000 in 2021 due to fewer accident claims during COVID – but it also closed its gender pay gap. Tony McDonough reports

Donna Richards
Donna Richards, chief executive of Carpenters Group


Legal and insurance services specialist Carpenters Group saw revenues and profits fall sharply in 2021 as it grappled with the impact of the pandemic and legal regulatory changes.

With offices in Liverpool, Wirral, Leeds, Haywards Heath and Glasgow, Carpenters Group employs more than 900 people. It provides legal services to insurance companies and brokers and handles personal injury claims.

It is run by three directors – Donna Richards, Donna Scully and John Carpenter. Ms Richards is the chief executive of the business while Ms Scully and Mr Carpenter are the joint owners.

According to its annual accounts, just filed at Companies House, in the 12 months to December 31, 2021, Carpenters saw revenues fall to £52.1m from almost £60m in 2020. Pre-tax profits fell from £5.4m in 2020 to just £3,000 in 2021.

Similar to many businesses across the UK, Carpenters used the Government furlough scheme to help pay its staff during the pandemic. In total it claimed more than £2m from the scheme – around £1.8m in 2020 and a further £357,000 in 2021.

In the report the directors said the results for the fiscal year were “in line with group expectations given the COVID-19 pandemic”. Lower road traffic volumes during lockdowns meant fewer accidents and therefore a smaller number of claims. They also referred to the challenges of the introduction of regulatory changes last year.

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In May 2021 the Ministry of Justice launched the Official Injury Portal (OIP). This was designed to make it easier for people to make personal injury claims. However the legal and insurance sectors have been unhappy with how it has worked so far.

Earlier this year, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations, said: “The OIC was meant to make it easy for injured people to settle their claim, but this self-evidently is not happening. As a result, the justice system, already creaking from record court delays, risks falling over a cliff.”

In its report Carpenters added: “There have been and continue to be issues with the OIC Portal. However, the group’s continued investment in technology, and an in-house development team, ensures it has the ability to adapt to the issues.”

In July this year, Donna Scully was more direct in her criticism of the changed system. She said: “We owe it to our customers and to the industry to fix this as soon as possible and not bury our heads in the sand while cases back up in their thousands.”

During the year the remuneration for the three Carpenters directors totalled almost £660,000. The firm’s highest paid director received close to £360,000. In addition, joint owners Ms Scully and Mr Carpenter shared a £650,000 annual dividend.

In August this year Ms Scully outlined how the firm had successfully closed the gender pay gap. The difference between male and female average pay at Carpenters is now just 0.1%. This compares favourably to the national average of 7.4%.

In addition, the firm achieved gender representation across all levels of its business. Women make up 55% of those paid the highest salaries and there is a mean gender bonus gap of 15% in favour of women.


Donna Scully
Donna Scully, director and joint owner at Carpenters Group


Ms Scully said: “I sent it to a few women I know who are about my age and their reaction was ‘thank God for that’.

“And that really struck me because, with something like this, it’s not about saying it’s easy or anything like that, but rather about saying it can be done, everybody can do this. It gives people something to aim towards.

“I do some mentoring for young girls and I sent this to the people running that mentoring because it can give them hope that they count and there is a career path for them out there.”

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