Election 2015: Forum of Private Business calls for code of conduct for retail supplier relationships

23 April 2015

The next UK government should introduce a code of conduct for retailers and suppliers, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has said.

Launching its Manifesto for Small Business, the forum said the future government must protect the interests of small businesses, regardless of the result of next month’s election.

It called for a regulator and code of conduct to oversee the relationship between suppliers and retailers, a freeze on business rates and a commitment to faithfully transpose the EU Directive on late payment.

The manifesto says: “It is time for government to denounce the over-reliance of larger retailers on cash flow support from their supply chains, leading to damaging demands, lengthy payment terms and late payment to small businesses.”

The FPB said that supporting better finance for business, cutting the cost of compliance, reducing the cost of doing business, and introducing measures to support sustainable business growth, was the way to drive the economy forward by 2020.

Over the next two years the FPB also wants to see:

• Amendments to current legislation to faithfully transpose the EU Directive on late payments
• Removal of the Health and Safety Executive’s fee for intervention policy
• A freeze on business rates in the first year and a cap at 2 per cent for the remainder of the Parliament
• To make the small business rate relief permanent
• The removal of the VAT on fuel duty contribution to pump price

Longer-term measures the FPB has called for include:

• An advisory board for the Prompt Payment Code
• Ensuring the Low Pay Commission gives a two-year national minimum wage recommendation to government but avoids further political interference
• Considering excluding small businesses from business rates altogether

Forum chief executive Phil Orford said it was important that the three largest parties had all positioned themselves as small business champions.

“It is encouraging to see that the role played by SMEs is recognised, and the across-the-board commitment to crucial policies such as investment in rural broadband, support for apprenticeships and the review of business rates,” he said.

“Small businesses will continue to be the engine room of growth and through providing the right mix of freedom, intervention and support, we can build on the recovery and ensure sustainable growth for the UK economy.”

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