Sectors - Business

Liz Barclay Named as Small Business Commissioner

The UK Government has announced the appointment of the new Small Business Commissioner to help spearhead the national effort to crackdown on delayed invoices, which cause thousands of small businesses to close every year.

Liz Barclay has been announced as Small Business Commissioner, the first woman to take the position which was created in 2016 to help small businesses secure payments owed to them and to galvanise UK businesses behind a new culture of prompt payment.

More than £23.4 billion is owed in outstanding invoices to UK businesses, with some waiting 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 can damage their income, which can in turn hold back investment or job creation – and in the worst-case scenarios lead to jobs being lost and businesses closing.

Action to help businesses and stop damaging practices will remain a key priority as the Government looks to support small businesses and build back better from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Liz Barclay said: “We need a real culture change around business payments in the UK to take pressure off our phenomenal 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.”

Small Business Minister Paul Scully commented: “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.”

Ms Barclay’s appointment is the latest in a series of actions that the Government has taken to address the issue of late payment. 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.

The Government is committed to backing the UK’s small businesses and has provided unprecedented support throughout the pandemic. Further support announced in the Budget earlier this month includes:

  • £5 billion for new Restart Grants – a one-off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England
  • a new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10 million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery
  • a new Help to Grow scheme to offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK a digital and management boost

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