Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 27th July 2015
Plans are in place for a new small business commissioner to be established with the backing of the British government.
The role and the office would take the issue of late payments to small businesses as a key priority as the government aims to beef up its support for growing companies around the country.
Plans for a conciliation service that would help to mediate disputes over payment involving small businesses were revealed in the recent Queen’s Speech in parliament but more detail is now emerging about precisely how such a service would be likely to function and aim to operate.
Business minister Anna Soubry has insisted that the commissioner would help to address the “imbalance” of power between small and larger British companies who work together around the country.
Government estimates suggest that there is roughly £26 billion currently outstanding and owed to small businesses in the UK as late payments from larger firms.
It is also understood that the process of chasing late payments also costs small companies millions of pounds each year.
“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,” explained Soubry in a statement.
“It will also provide advice, investigate complaints and see where further action is needed to clamp down on unfair practices,” she said.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has opened up a consultation on its proposals for how a small business commissioner’s office might function and is inviting the views of businesses from around the country on the associated issues.
Earlier this year, the government introduced legislation that effectively obliges big companies to report on their payment policies and practices.
Plans are in place for a small business commissioner to use this information as a means of ‘naming and shaming’ companies that are guilty of routinely withholding payments to smaller firms on a considerable scale.
“The government is backing small businesses to grow and create more jobs and opportunity,” Soubry said.