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, Paul Uppal, 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’s priorities are reflective of his 20-year experience as a small business owner in the real estate sector, where he saw how even sound businesses could struggle when faced with a culture of late payment by customers.
“Running your own business can be a very lonely experience and my priority will be ensuring small firms feel supported as well as helping to create an overall impression that business isn’t necessarily cut throat.”
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. So far over 200 of the UK’s largest businesses have submitted payment reports.