Minister leads call to change late payment culture

These comments came as Mark Prisk hosted a workshop with a range of industry bodies to agree on a revised action plan. This will centre around three elements; Government leading by example; extending the Prompt Payment Code; and actively promoting best practice with the Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) representative bodies.

Prisk said: “By looking at which business sectors have good practice and those that don’t we can start to identify where practical improvements can be made and understand the behaviours that lead to a culture of late payment. It’s vital that all business sectors understand the importance that prompt payment has in the cashflow management of a business.

“I am determined to help businesses change the culture of late payment by encouraging them to make sure they are paying invoices correctly and on time.

“Legislation alone cannot do enough to enforce prompt payment of suppliers. We need practical, business-focussed solutions to help SMEs in particular and make sure they are paid promptly.

“One of the most important steps is for businesses to formally agree terms of payments before transactions and stick to these terms. Simple practical measures can help SMEs make great strides in securing the cashflow that will help them thrive and grow.”

The workshop will include participants from the Forum of Private Business (FPB), Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).

Late payment creates cashflow problems for SMEs. Advice and guidance for SMEs to help them make sure they are paid on time is part of the Finance Fitness campaign, which sees Government and businesses working together to help SMEs with common financial problems.

Over 1000 big businesses have already signed up the Government’s Prompt Payment Code which is managed by the ICM. Small firms can get more advice and information on securing prompt payment at BusinessLink.gov.uk and from the Cash Management guides developed by the ICM, in association with the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Latest figures show that the number of downloads made has now gone past the 300,000 mark.

Commenting on ministers announcement Peter Ewen, Managing Director of ABN AMRO Commercial Finance said: “The Government focus on changing Britain’s late payment culture is welcome recognition of the challenges facing SMEs.
“Many business are buckling under financial pressure caused by rising supplier costs and late payment from large customers meaning they are unable to be the real engine of growth the economy needs.
“Without healthy cashflow, businesses cannot hope to survive for long – even in the best of economic conditions. In this uncertain economic climate, businesses need to be paid on time to help them overcome working capital difficulties before they can actively pursue growth and add momentum to the wider economic recovery.
“The Government has taken positive steps in tackling its own late payment issues and it’s extremely encouraging to see a renewed focus on practical solutions for the wider business community.”
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