New SBC to 'spearhead crackdown on delayed invoices'

16 March 2021

Liz Barclay has been appointed new small business commissioner (SBC) to  “spearhead the national effort to crackdown on delayed invoices”.

More than £23.4bn is owed to small businesses in late payments, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Barclay will work for a “culture change around business payments”.

She is set to replace current interim SBC Phillip King on 1 July, and will the first female in the role since it was established in 2016.

The SBC reviews complaints from small businesses on payment issues and enforces fair payment practices around the 2,800 organisations signed up to the Prompt Payment Code (PCC).

She said: “We need a real culture change around business payments in the UK to take pressure off our phenomenal entrepreneurs. People who have already delivered goods and services have to be able to turn their attention to their next client and next order rather than chasing up late payments and worrying about their cash flow.

“I know from personal experience how damaging that can be to mental and emotional health. By working with businesses and ensuring their concerns are listened to I hope to be able to deliver a payment regime that keeps cash flowing and works for everyone.”

Barclay is a small business and consumer affairs journalist, financial inclusion commissioner at campaign group the Financial Inclusion Commission, and chair of the BSI Consumer Forum.

Small business minister Paul Scully said: “I thank Phillip King for his work tackling this issue as interim small business commissioner and I welcome Liz Barclay to this hugely important role, driving the positive change we need to see and standing up for our hard-working small businesses.”

Earlier this year the government toughened requirements for firms signed up to the PCC by halving the time to pay small suppliers from 60 to 30 days.

Malcolm Harrison, group CEO, CIPS, said: “The recent new powers given to the small business commissioner to order payments and levy fines mean Liz Barclay is coming into the role in a great position to step up this fight against the culture of poor payment practices.

“These new powers need to be used to ensure strong enforcement of the recently announced reforms to the Prompt Payment Code. This enforcement is essential as despite the devastating effect that late payments have on small businesses in particular, very few SMEs will take action against businesses knowing that to do so could spell the end of a contract with a valuable customer.”

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