Late payment: Government launches review of Small Business Commissioner

Late payment: Government launches review of Small Business Commissioner
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Fri 17th Feb 2023

The government has launched a review into the effectiveness of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC), a role created to help small businesses deal with unpaid invoices from big customers.

Created in 2016, the SBC, who is currently broadcaster and writer Liz Barclay, provides support to small companies in payment disputes with their larger business customers.

The SBC has no legal powers to force firms to settle their bills and can only investigate poor payment practice when a small business complains directly.

However, she can make non-binding recommendations as to how the parties could resolve their disputes.

The SBC has so far got back around £8m in unpaid invoices for small companies. Figures estimate that a total £23.4bn in outstanding invoices is currently owed to UK businesses.

The review, part of the government's wider payment and cash flow review, is looking at the effectiveness of the SBC and considering whether the office needs more powers to investigate poor payment practice such as being able to do so following the submission of anonymous information.

Evidence from a previous consultation in 2020 suggested existing SBC powers were seen by many as not being strong enough.

In the new review the government says the SBC receives fewer complaints than expected which it says is likely due to small businesses wanting to avoid conflict with significant and influential customers.

Anyone with an interest in the SBC's work, including small and micro businesses, can submit evidence by considering the questions here and responding here by 28 April.

The government is also seeking feedback on the effectiveness of rules that require big firms to report data on how quickly they pay suppliers.

Give your late payment feedback to the government

Enterprise Nation is taking part in the payment and cashflow review by running events for small business owners to share feedback on late payment with government officials. You can register for the remaining events below:

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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