The office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) was launched in December 2019. The SBC is an independent public body tasked with helping smaller businesses and covers the whole of the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The SBC focuses on the issue of late payments and payment practices.

A new consultation has been launched that is exploring whether the SBC should be given more powers to assist small businesses by providing them with effective mechanisms for redress, in respect of late payments. Late payment remains a significant issue in the UK, with £23.4 billion owed to small and medium-sized businesses. These issues have been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Commissioner’s existing power to make non-binding recommendations is seen by many as insufficiently strong and does not provide confidence for small businesses that action will be taken on complaints raised. Under the proposed changes, the Commissioner would potentially gain powers to activate enforcement mechanisms against businesses who do not comply with information request and against businesses who are found to have poor or unfair payment practices towards small businesses.

The proposals also include new powers to investigate specific complaints and the right to review and report on other matters which may affect small businesses following an instruction by the Secretary of State. The consultation closes on 24 December.

Source: New feed