We do allow ourselves a football-style whoop of celebration in the OSBC when we hear from a small business that’s been paid money owed, and we’ve helped make it happen. But this week we’re in full-blown fist pump, running around the park, mode. The owner of a small firm who called us for help has been paid more than £100,000 he’s been owed for some time. He can clear his bills, think about investing in skills and equipment and plan ahead. Without it the alternative could have been job losses, insurmountable debt and shut down. There was another overdue amount of £250 paid this week too. That mattered just as much to that micro business. That’s why our caseworkers take every request for help very seriously and pull out the stops if they can.
However in the almost two years I’ve been Small Business Commissioner I’ve realised that most bigger customers don’t pay late on purpose. They just don’t understand the difference £250 can make, or they have out of date systems that take ages to process payments. For the good of the economy, local communities and employees we need better partnership working between customers and suppliers.
The highlight of this week was hearing from a woman whose business helps unemployed people acquire the skills to find jobs. She came along to a meeting in the House of Commons with the business adviser who helped her get started. She’s put her house on the line and is utterly passionate about the people she’s helping. We need millions more business owners like her with massive missions, and hundreds of thousands more advisers to give small firms the right support at the right time for the right stage of their business.