FSB calls for Small Business Commissioner later payments powers

The government is consulting on plans to appoint a Small Business Commissioner. You can express your views on gov.uk.

Here’s what the government envisages the new role to do: “The Commissioner’s services will enable smaller firms to resolve disputes with other businesses quickly and easily. This will preserve important commercial relationships without the need to go to court.”

Sounds useful. But the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for the new Commissioner to have real teeth, especially with regard to late payment. Small Business Commissioner must have clout to tackle late payment, says FSB

John Allan of the FSB says:

“We are encouraged by the Government’s consultation process which will include businesses of all sizes. But it’s important to ensure that the new Commissioner has the confidence of the entire business community, a clear focus on tackling supply chain bullying, and sufficient powers to intervene and resolve late-payment disputes in a timely and effective way. The Commissioner will have a unique overview of patterns of bad practice in late payment culture and should have the ability to refer these to the Competition and Markets Authority if those practices are considered harmful to the working of the market.

“Recent FSB research found that only one in five (21%) of our members are confident the current Prompt Payment code will be enough to address the UK’s poor payment culture. In addition, the EU Late Payment Directive from March 2013 is simply being ignored by many large and multi-national companies to the detriment of small businesses and the sustainability of their supply chain.

“Late payment culture in a company is set at board level. It’s something that CEOs and board members in big businesses must take responsibility for and put at the top of their agendas. Big businesses must respect the supply chain and stop using smaller businesses as a credit line by delaying payments and applying bullying tactics.”