FSB demands action to combat late payment culture

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Mike Cherry

Tackling the late payment culture that devastates thousands of small businesses each year must be at the top of the Government’s domestic agenda for 2018, says Mike Cherry of the FSB.

In his New Year message, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, has called on the Government and its new Small Business Commissioner to make 2018 the year that progress is made to tackle the UK’s poor payments crisis.

The New Year must also see a revitalised approach to business rates, he says. Immediately, the remaining 30 councils in England that have yet to pass on the emergency relief must fall into line, and a draft bill to remove the staircase tax should be published.

The rapid and constant closure of local bank branches must also be addressed. Small firms value the face-to-face contact, particularly when they are making big financial decisions or completing complicated transactions, and the situation is being made worse by the current threat to cash points leaving some communities without access to cash.

Mr Cherry said: “Brexit will no doubt continue to grab headlines as we enter the New Year but it’s vital we don’t lose sight of the domestic issues impacting our 5.7 million small businesses and self-employed every day.

“The coming weeks and months will be a crucial time for the Small Business Commissioner and his team to start making a real difference to firms impacted by the debilitating late and poor payments crisis across the UK. An estimated £18bn is held up in poor and late payments. This needs to change. Just like everyone else, small businesses deserve to be paid promptly and should not face supply chain bullying. We want to see the worst offenders tackled and then named and shamed if they do not improve.

“Business rates reform must also remain high on the agenda. We were pleased to see the announcement of a Bill to end the unfair staircase tax announced by the Chancellor at this year’s Autumn Budget, as well as a move to three-yearly revaluations. But the Government needs to make sure the system is fair and doesn’t add additional burden on to businesses.

“We will also be working hard to highlight issues surrounding access to cash, which remains crucial for small firms. Local bank branches are closing at an alarming rate and the impact is often made worse by the current threat to cash machines that could leave communities without access to cash.”