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Government to tackle late payments but businesses still need to take back control

Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst has announced a proposed package of measures to fine large businesses for failing to pay smaller suppliers on time.

The new proposals would see the Small Business Minister’s powers strengthened, including the ability to fine businesses that do not pay bills within agreed contractual terms. The Commissioner would also be given powers to make companies detail their payment terms and practices. Under the new proposals, payment plans that ensure bills are settled quickly could also be enforced.

In response to these plans, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Small businesses will be delighted with today’s announcement. Together with measures to strengthen the Small Business Commissioner’s powers and reform the Prompt Payment Code, the measures today could finally see an end to poor payment practice. Changing our business culture will boost the small business community, productivity and growth.”

Jenny Oldfield, CEO of Veritas Commercial Services, commented: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the UK economy. It is essential that we continue to rally behind the sector by lobbying for the implementation of tougher regulation, whilst making sure that practical support for business is available, such as effective credit management, the new advances in credit control technology and training.”

Whilst we do firmly agree with the FSB in welcoming the proposals, which are clearly a step in the right direction, we are firm believers in the here and now. The FSB have, themselves, estimated that late payment forces around 50,000 businesses to collapse every year and businesses are still at risk. Credit culture may be improving but there is still a long way to go for many organisations, from SMEs to major corporates. We have seen in the past that reliance on Government intervention and regulation in isolation is not the solution. Businesses themselves need to take back control.”

We empathise with the comments of Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, that during the first 16 months of his post he was ‘struck by the trepidation’ felt by businesses when talking about late payment with their large suppliers. Virtual credit control removes that fear, enabling businesses to manage their sales ledgers and relationships effectively and create the controls that they need in order to thrive.”

There is no substitute for getting close to customers to ensure that they pay on time. With our Virtual Credit Control programmes backed up by the revolutionary new Visibility™ credit control software, businesses now have the professional resources and tools to fight against late payment with greater strength and tenacity than ever before. That combined with an investment in training and our Knowledge Zone are creating a platform to combat the scourge of late payment.”

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