The government has appointed Liz Barclay as small business commissioner to spearhead the national effort to crackdown on delayed invoices which cause thousands of small businesses to close every year
Barclay will be the first female small business commissioner, a post which was created in 2016 to help small businesses secure the payments owed to them and to galvanise UK businesses behind a new culture of prompt payment.
Over £23.4bn is owed in outstanding invoices to UK businesses. Some businesses wait several months before paying their suppliers, severely impacting the bottom line of many small businesses.
Small businesses account for two-thirds of UK private sector employment and more than half of business turnover. Late payments damage their income, which can hold back investment or job creation and, in the worst cases, lead to job losses and business closures.
Action to help businesses and stop this damaging practice will remain a key priority as the government looks to support small businesses and build back better from the pandemic.
Small business commissioner Liz Barclay said: ‘We need a real culture change around business payments in the UK to take pressure off our entrepreneurs. People who have already delivered goods and services have to be able to turn their attention to their next client and next order rather than chasing up late payments and worrying about their cashflow. I know from personal experience how damaging that can be to mental and emotional health.
‘By working with businesses and ensuring their concerns are listened to I hope to be able to deliver a payment regime that keeps cash flowing and works for everyone.’
Barclay is a small business and consumer affairs broadcaster, producer and writer. She is Financial Inclusion Commissioner; chair of the BSI Consumer Forum and the Fair by Design campaign; a non-executive director of two organisations and a member of the standards boards of the Fundraising Regulator and the Equity Release Council. She is also an ambassador for the Money Advice Trust and Business Debtline.
Small business minister Paul Scully said: ‘Having run small businesses for most of my professional life I know just how toxic delayed invoices can be, causing needless uncertainty as business owners chase payments which should have been made weeks or even months ago.
‘I thank Phillip King for his work tackling this issue as interim Small Business Commissioner and I welcome Liz Barclay to this hugely important role, driving the positive change we need to see and standing up for our hard-working small businesses.’
Last year, the government consulted on new powers for the commissioner, including the power to order payments, levy fines and open investigations based on third-party information. The responses to the consultation and further proposals will be published in due course.
In January this year, the government also announced reforms to the Prompt Payment Code, a voluntary scheme whereby businesses commit to paying their partners in good time, driving further culture change and encouraging businesses to address their practices.