UK government announces small business commissioner role to take on late payments

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
27 July 2015

The UK government is planning to establish a small business commissioner role to tackle late payment and help resolve disputes.

Under the proposal the commissioner would offer small firms advice, support and mediation services to help deal with the more than £26 billion in late payments owed to them, as well as investigating and reporting on complaints.

Small business minister Anna Soubry said: “The government is backing small businesses to grow and create more jobs and opportunity.

“Small businesses are owed £26 billion in late payments and spend millions more chasing down money they have already earned through hard work. This is simply unacceptable – it limits their growth and productivity, and can put an otherwise successful business at risk.

“The small business commissioner will tackle the imbalance of bargaining power between small suppliers and large customers, and encourage them to get round the table and sort out disputes at a fraction of the cost of going to court. It will also provide advice, investigate complaints and see where further action is needed to clamp down on unfair practices.”

The commissioner will use data collected under this year's Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, which requires large firms to report on their payment policies and practices, to “name and shame those behaving badly and celebrate those leading the way by paying promptly”.

According to Bacs SMEs in the UK spend a total of £10.8 billion a year attempting to recover overdue payments and in July 2015 they were collectively owed a total of £26.8 billion.

A consultation on the new role runs until 21 August.

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