Philip King has been appointed interim small business commissioner (SBC) with a focus on championing measures against late payments.
King aims to “continue changing the culture of late payment across the UK” through the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) and stricter enforcement measures.
This follows Paul Uppal's resignation from the position last October due to a conflict of interests.
The SBC tweeted: “We need to continue changing the culture of late payment across the UK and I’m going to enjoy working with the SBC team and driving activity forward to see that culture change.”
King was formerly chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, which is in charge of administering the voluntary PPC under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
As interim SBC King will be key in transferring management of the PPC to the SBC office as part of public commitments “to bring late payments measures under one umbrella”.
Companies signed up to the PPC must show compliance with good payments practices and pay 95% of invoices in 60 days, with an ambition to move toward 30-day payment terms.
New measures “could include compelling information and disclosure of payment terms and practices, imposing financial penalties, or binding payment plans on large businesses found to have unfair payment practices”, said the SBC.
The SBC has since met with the Martin Traynor, SME crown representative at the Cabinet Office (CO), to discuss how they can work collaboratively to support SMEs in the UK.
Suzanne Burke, head of operations at the office of the SBC, has been acting commissioner since November 2019.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We welcome today’s appointment of an interim small business commissioner. Using his name and shame powers should make a real difference.
“We look forward to the government’s wider package of reforms to come, including improved resources and increased powers, a tougher Prompt Payment Code and audit committees’ oversight of payment practices.”
Separately, 2018-19 figures from the CO show government spending with SMEs increased by £1.8bn on the previous year.
The value of public contracts with SMEs rose to £14.2bn with services varying from apprenticeship training courses to specialist software.
CO minister Oliver Dowden said: “As we leave the EU we can create more opportunities for small businesses to win government business – boosting growth, employment and innovation.”
Meanwhile, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the go-ahead for the awarding £1bn in loans to small building firms under the British Business Bank’s ENABLE Build finance scheme, in partnership with UK banks.
This aims to “turbocharge the housing sector” and help meet a government commitment to build at least a million new homes in the next five years.
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