The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) is an independent public body set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment and unfavourable payment practices in the private sector. The SBC covers the whole of the UK - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The late payment culture that exists between businesses in the UK means that:
- a third of payments to small businesses are late
- the average value of each payment is £6,142
- 20% of small businesses have run in to cash flow problems due to late payments
- if small businesses were paid on time, this could boost the economy by an estimated £2.5 billion annually
Launched in December 2017 the Small Business Commissioner, leads an independent office aimed at empowering small businesses in resolving disputes around late and unfair payment issues and provides advice, including on how to take action if a payment is overdue.
The Commissioner urges small businesses affected by late or unfair payment practices to use the SBC’s complaint investigation service and promises to take action to tackle the worst examples of supply chain bullying.
Duty to Report
As part of the package of measures introduced under the Enterprise Act 2016, regulations came into force in April 2017 requiring large businesses to publicly report the average time they take to pay their suppliers. This allows suppliers, including small businesses, to make informed decisions about who they do business with. Firms can check when large businesses pay their suppliers on GOV.UK.
The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) considers complaints from small businesses (that is businesses with fewer than 50 staff) about payment problems they are encountering concerning their larger business customers (with over 50 employees), making non-binding recommendations on how the parties should resolve their disputes.
The SBC is:
- free to use on a non-risk basis
- independent, but appointed by government
The SBC provides general advice and information to small businesses on matters such:
- resolving disputes and dealing with an unpaid invoice
- checking contracts and getting invoices right
- signposting small businesses to existing support and dispute resolution services.
The SBC will also consider and investigate complaints about payment issues between small business and their larger customers making (non-binding) recommendations on how the parties should resolve their disputes.
- The small business should raise their complaint by contacting the SBC directly.