The UK government has launched a payment disputes handling service for smaller firms, under responsibility of the recently-created Small Business Commissioner.

Next to the complaint submission service, Commissioner Paul Uppal, who was appointed in October, has provided businesses with a “check, chase and choose” guide:

  • help them check whether they have provided the right information to request payment;
  • know how to chase invoices, and
    choose how to take further action, including with a complaint to the Commissioner.
  • The government said the new complaint service is “one of a number” of measures it is tacking to tackle Britain’s culture of late payment, which it says negatively affects a third of small businesses and deprives the economy of an estimated £2.5bn a year.

Following regulation enacted in April, large businesses have to publicly report the average time they take to pay suppliers. Other firms can then check the records on the government’s website, so as to make informed decision on who to make business with.

Uppal said: “Having run my own small business for over 20 years I am well aware that integrity and trust are key to running and building a successful business. My mission is to help all small businesses nurture positive and lasting relationships with their customers that work in the best interests of both.

“Today I am launching a new website so small businesses know their rights, as well as how to contact me if they need further action to be taken when the larger businesses they supply owe them money.”

Margot James, Small Business Minister, said: “This government’s industrial strategy is building a Britain in which small business can continue to thrive. Over the last five years the amount owed to smaller businesses has more than halved, from £30bn to £14bn.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added:  “The UK is gripped by a poor payments crisis. Over 30% of payments to small businesses are late and the average value of each payment is £6,142. This not only impacts on the small business and the owner; it is damaging the wider economy.

“The Small Business Commissioner is crucial to turning the tide on this late payments culture. FSB will be encouraging small businesses affected to use the service, and we hope then to see clear actions taken to tackle the worst examples of supply chain bullying.

“Success will be a UK economic culture where a business that does a job promptly, is paid promptly.”