Small businesses call crunch time for late payments package

Press Releases 31 May 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May must use her final days in office to push through the late payments reforms package announced in this year’s Spring Statement.

The urgent call comes from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) as businesses face up to extended political uncertainty surrounding the Brexit crisis coupled with the prospect of a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. FSB wants the outgoing Government to deliver on the promise made to FSB and the small business community, and to do so in June.

FSB believes that it would be a major plank of this Government’s legacy to bring to an end the UK’s business culture where paying small businesses late is acceptable. Reforms already undertaken by this and the previous Government have made some progress, but delivering the package of reforms now promised – including making the Audit Committee of every large business responsibility for its payment practices, and reporting back in its annual report, and strengthening the Small Business Commissioner and Prompt Payment Code, is critical.

80% of the UK’s small business community is affected by poor payment practice. These practices carried out by big businesses towards their smaller suppliers is rife and continues to put smaller firms at risk. 50,000 small firms a year are forced to close their doors because of it.

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Mike Cherry, said: “As Theresa May’s time in office draws to a close, we are now at crunch time for the promised late payments package we have worked hard with the Government to secure. We are fast running out of time for the outgoing administration to secure this as their lasting and transformational small business legacy.

“This can be achieved by publishing its late payments reform package as one of its final acts. Under this administration, small firms have seen some positive reforms come into force to ease the burden of poor payment practices. Many, however, are still just about managing to cope with the persistent and debilitating impact bullying and being paid late has on them and their staff.

“What these firms need is one more push to get the changes that will turn the tide against this unjust and unfair behaviour. We cannot afford to have these crucial reforms lost at the last fence, as attention turns to the leadership contest, a new administration and the upcoming Brexit deadline.

“It is crunch time – small businesses want these reforms in place before the Prime Minister leaves Number 10. Taking real action to tackle poor payment practices can be the legacy that the Prime Minister and her Government leave office with.”