The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) is an independent public body set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment and unfavourable payment practices in the private sector. The SBC covers the whole of the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Launched in December 2017 the Small Business Commissioner, leads an independent office aimed at empowering small businesses in resolving disputes around late and unfair payment issues and provides advice, including on how to take action if a payment is overdue.
Small Business Commissioner’s Remit
The Small Business Commissioner (SBC) considers complaints from small businesses (that is businesses with fewer than 50 staff) about payment problems they are encountering concerning their larger business customers (with over 50 employees), making non-binding recommendations on how the parties should resolve their disputes.
The SBC is:
- free to use on a non-risk basis
- independent, but appointed by government
- provides general advice and information
- about resolving disputes and dealing with an unpaid invoice
- checking contracts and getting invoices right
- signposting to existing support and dispute resolution services.
How SBC can help
The Small Business Commissioner will:
- provide general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving disputes;
- signpost small businesses to existing support and resolution dispute services through the Commissioner’s own website; and,
- consider complaints about payment issues between small business suppliers and their larger business customers making recommendations on how the parties should resolve the disputes. Where appropriate the Commissioner will publish reports to highlight findings and remedies that may be of help and interest to other businesses.
Companies that are experiencing issues will find useful help and advice on the SBC website, and find guidance for small businesses on payment issues including how to take action if a payment is overdue.
Enquiries should be made to the Commissioner directly by an authorised individual working for the businesses affected and not via a third party such as a trade body, local MP or Councillor or an individual or body not directly involved.
The need for SBC
Britain has 5.7 million small businesses across England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and removing barriers to their growth will be essential if we are to maintain a dynamic, market economy.
It is estimated there is in the region of 50,000 ‘business deaths’ each year, many in part due to late or unfair payment practices. As part of a package of measures introduced by Government the Small Business Commissioner was appointed in October 2017 to tackle the late payment culture that exists among some businesses.
Research shows that:
- 52% of SMEs are owed monies from late payment
- Late payment costs the UK economy £2.5bn annually and 350,000 jobs.
The Commissioner will support small businesses to resolve payment disputes, tackle the unfair payment practices of larger businesses that adversely affect many small businesses, and help bring about a culture change.
The Commissioner will have responsibility for advising, signposting and dealing with complaints from those small businesses across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who employ up to fifty staff.
SBC will provide general information and advice about payment issues, direct small businesses to existing services which may help them resolve payment issues, and handle their payment related complaints.
The Commissioner will make non-binding determinations in response to complaints submitted by small businesses about the payment practices of a larger business. Although these determinations are non-binding, the Commissioner will have the ability to report about an enquiry into a complaint and “name and shame” those larger businesses that have not followed fair and reasonable payment practices.
Get in Touch
Small Business Commissioner UK on Twitter
Small Business Commissioner UK on Linkedin
To find out more about how you can avoid late payments or if you are a small business which wishes to make a complaint you can visit SBC at: www.smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk.
Enquiries about how SBC could help, offer advice or signpost you to other services that could help your business should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a small business that is affected by a payment-related issue you can submit your complaint to SBC at: email@example.com