Sunday 12 February 2017 7:33 pm

Small business commissioner will tackle late payment issues

The hunt is on for the UK’s first small business commissioner.

As part of its strategy to tackle late payment issues, the government will hire an advocate for small businesses.

This move comes in response to the discovery that nearly half of the UK’s small businesses experience late payment. Payment processor Bacs estimated that a total of £26.3bn was owed to these businesses.

The successful candidate will act as a national champion for small businesses and support them in payment disputes with their larger customers.

Small Business Minister Margot James said: “We all rely on the UK’s 5.5 million small and medium sized businesses for jobs, goods and services, and an unfair payment culture that hurts these firms has no place in an economy that works for all.

“This is why we are looking for an exceptional individual to help smaller firms resolve payment disputes and champion a culture change in how businesses work together.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, will be part of the panel which makes the appointment alongside the Secretary of State Greg Clark.

Cherry commented: “There is simply no excuse for a business culture where supply chain bullying or poor payment practice are acceptable. FSB research shows that poor payment practice is on the rise, causing 50,000 business deaths each year.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy opened applications for the new role yesterday, and expected them to close on 13 March.

More help for small businesses will be available in April, when regulations requiring big businesses to publically report the time taken to pay their suppliers come into effect.