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Small firms welcome government move

Commissioner will tackle late payment to SMEs

Ana SoubryA small business commissioner is to be appointed to tackle the problem of late payments which impact on cash flow and cause thousands of companies to fail.

The UK government says SMEs are owed £26 billion in late payments and it is ready to act to ensure large firms can no longer bully them.

Firms would be able to seek advice from and make complaints to the new commissioner. A mediation service will be established.

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the move but said it must be properly funded and be high profile.

Plans for a new small business conciliation service to help settle disputes – specifically over late payment – were announced in the Queen’s Speech. The service aims to handle problems without the need for court action.

The government also wants to create a commissioner role to deal with outstanding payments and the alleged bullying of suppliers who are forced by larger companies to cut their prices or be denied custom.

It is expected that the commissioner would:

  • Be a point of first contact for small businesses and provide advice and support on how to avoid disputes and how to resolve them
  • Offer access to mediation services to sort out issues quickly and affordably, “at a fraction of the cost of going to court”
  • Investigate complaints over unfair business practices and regularly report its findings

Business minister Anna Soubry (pictured) said she wanted the commissioner to bring about a “long-lasting culture change”, helping to settle disputes quickly and cheaply.

 

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