Government to appoint small business commissioner to tackle late payments

New role will build on plans for small business conciliation service to lead "culture change" in how small firms resolve disputes

The government has set out proposals to appoint a small business commissioner to help small businesses resolve late payments disputes with larger companies.

The role will tackle unfair supply chain practices, and will help small firms access advice, support, mediation and conciliation services. The commissioner will also have the power to investigate complaints and report on findings.

According to a report by Bacs, small and medium-sized businesses are owed up to £26.8bn in overdue late payments and £10.8bn is spent per year attempting to recover payments.

The commissioner will work as part of the government’s small business conciliation service, announced in May this year by business secretary Sajid Javid, and follows the recent introduction of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 which requires the UK’s largest companies to share their payment policies and practices to help tackle late payment disputes.

Anna Soubry, small business minister, said: “The government is backing small businesses to grow and create more jobs and opportunity.

“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. It will also provide advice, investigate complaints and see where further action is needed to clamp down on unfair practices.”

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