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New push for faster SME payments as costs soar

13 June 2022

The Small Business Commissioner has joined an alliance of 16 leading UK business groups in a drive for faster payments to support small firms as the cost of doing business bites​.

Good Business Pays is spearheading an alliance to stop slow payments from harming small businesses. The initiative has the backing of Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay and leaders from the UK's biggest business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Institute of Directors (IoD), the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The Wait Off campaign is backed by 16 business groups in all - representing over half a million SMEs - and it aims to provide a united front against poor payment practices. The campaign is also backed by a number of UK businesses that support faster payments to small businesses.

The Wait Off campaign is calling on small businesses to sign up and add their own voices to the movement. Small business leaders can do so by texting paydontdelay to 60095 and sharing their thoughts and experiences of slow payment.

The latest data from the FSB suggests that slow and unfair payment practices are threatening the future of almost half a million UK small businesses. Terry Corby, chair of Good Business Pays, said: "Slow and late payments have been a problem ignored by many businesses for a long time, but with so many small businesses struggling with rising costs and inflation, it has never been more important to ensure cash flows smoothly and quickly throughout the supply chain."

A study commissioned by Good Business Pays and carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), estimates that if small business invoices were paid on the day they were submitted, their revenues would increase by £40bn to £60bn per year.

"No business should have to suffer because of payment delays," said Corby. "We're delighted that Britain's leading business groups are taking this issue seriously and helping to drive the culture change we need to see by supporting the campaign. I strongly encourage small business leaders to sign up to the campaign to share their own experiences of poor payment practices."

Liz Barclay, Small Business CommissionerUK Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay (pictured) said "I'm beyond delighted that small business organisations are so incensed about slow payments that they've got together to bring the problem to the top of the agenda. Waiting to be paid is a major cause of small business failure and of mental health problems. Together we can change the poor payment culture that's been harming business and the economy for decades."

FSB national chair Martin McTague said: "We … need the business community and the public's help, to get large corporate brands paying promptly as part of accepted, normal business practice. CEOs are often unaware the company they lead are poor payers, which is why we are also seeking the new Audit Reform Bill to secure a whole Board approach to pay their supply chain promptly - by empowering their Audit Committees to oversee payments to suppliers."

The industry-wide initiative will combine a mix of digital advertising, social media, PR and lobbying of key stakeholders, including the government, to focus on the most important drivers in changing behaviour towards payments across UK businesses.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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