New commissioner’s calling time on ‘culture of late payment’

The new Government commissioner appointed to tackle the “culture of late payment” could well be phoning the bosses of late paying firms.
Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Minister Anna Soubry said she hoped the new commissioner would work behind the scenes to deal with an issue which could cripple small businesses.
The news comes after a recent study claimed SMEs with fewer than 250 staff are owed more than £67 billion in unpaid invoices.
“It is absolutely not about punishing companies. It is about good practice. We know we have an issue of late payment,” the minister told Business Matters magazine.
“We also have a problem with big companies changing their terms and conditions to pay ever later.”
The idea came from a conversation with the commissioner in Australia who, the magazine reported, spends time on the phone to company bosses.
The minister said she was “impressed” and continued: “He can say: ‘We have a number of firms saying your business is doing such and such’. That’s where I want us to be,” the magazine reported.
She also pledged complaints would be investigated with the threat that a company could be named in the commissioner’s annual report.
The appointment of a commissioner is a one of the key measures in the Government’s new Enterprise Bill.
Earlier this month, research by the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) revealed British SMEs are now owed £67.4 billion in unpaid invoices, a rise of eight per cent in the last year and up 36 per cent from £49.5 billion in 2011.
A previous ABFA study showed that SMEs are now waiting an average of 72 days for payment of invoices, 11 days more than during the recession in 2009.
When the Enterprise Bill was unveiled, Anna Soubry said: “Our Enterprise Bill will help tackle some of the biggest issues facing business today. Overzealous regulation and unacceptable late payments are just some of the issues targeted in a comprehensive package of measures designed to give a boost to the UK economy.
“This is about letting businesses get on with what they do best, while taking sensible action to support those that need it.”
Useful links:
Business Matters – Minister wants late paying firms challenged in person
Asset Based Finance Association research