WITH evidence mounting that the problem of late payment is becoming more severe as a result of the economic downturn, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is seeking solutions which avoid adding to the legislative burden.
And it is urging the Government to pay its own suppliers on time.
The FPB has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, to emphasise the impact of late payment on small firms, following research in August which revealed that 95% of respondents believe the Government should set an example by paying its suppliers promptly.
In addition, 88% said they are not being paid on time, with 56% reporting that late payment has become worse over the past year and 72% that it is having a serious or very serious impact on their businesses.
The FPB’s policy representative, Matt Goodman, recently met civil servants at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to discuss the issue.
He said that for small businesses struggling in the current economic climate, receiving timely payments can mean the difference between trading profitably or not at all.
“BERR has acknowledged the impact of late payment on small firms, and is working to ensure that the Government takes the lead on the issue. We have also written to ask Ms Blears to see that it is being addressed at a local level,” he said.
“Solutions that have been suggested include a public sector code of practice and increased awareness across individual government departments. What is needed is a change in the culture of payment.”