Late Payments in the UK

Late Payments in the UK

Dealing with late payments can have a detrimental effect on small businesses but unfortunately they are often at the back of the queue when it comes to getting paid, feeling it is easier to simply accept late payment as the norm because they are powerless to challenge the companies paying them late.

Established under the Enterprise Act 2016, the Office of the Small Business Commissioner is part of a package of measures to tackle late payment practices in the business sector across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Office of the Small Business Commissioner was launched in December 2017 to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses, support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger companies and bring about a cultural change in payment practices.

Interim Small Business Commissioner, Philip King said: “We want to push out the message that it’s okay for small businesses to ask for help, and it’s right for small businesses to complain when they’re being exploited by their large customers. I’ve worked with large businesses over the past few months and it’s apparent that improving the way they treat their supply chain is a key priority.

“We need to move the debate beyond the transactional nature of invoices being paid late. Of course, late payment damages small businesses and the wider economy but it can also have a huge emotional impact on the business owners. An invoice paid late can result in the mortgage not being paid or employees waiting for their wages and the link between late payment and mental health is real and worrying”.

Based in Birmingham, the OSBC has been set up to provide free help to small businesses in the UK who are facing late or unfair payment practices and provide:

  • general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving payment disputes;
  • a signposting service to existing support and resolution dispute services through its own website; and,
  • a complaints investigation service for late and unfair payment issues between small business (50 or less employees) and their larger business customers (over 50 employees). The SBC will make recommendations on how the parties should resolve the disputes.

The service is free of charge and at no risk to the complainant as investigations will be treated anonymously if requested.

Where appropriate, the Commissioner can publish reports to highlight findings and remedies that may be of help and interest to other businesses, showing not only bad practice but also good practice.

Since its launch, the OSBC has got back £7.8 million in late payments, and we urge all small businesses who are experiencing difficulties being paid to contact our team today.

Small businesses that are experiencing payment issues can email enquiries@smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk or speak to a caseworker on 0121 695 7770.

Further help and information can also be found on the SBC website.

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