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UK government plans to extend payment reporting

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Oct 2023

The UK government has responded to representations on tackling late payments by extending payment reporting regulations and giving more powers to the Small Business Commissioner.

ICAEW has welcomed the UK government’s announcement for measures to reduce the number of late payments to small businesses. Among the measures announced are recommendations that ICAEW put forward through its representations to government , including increased powers for the Small Business Commissioner (SBC).

It also touches on measures that ICAEW members in small businesses called for at a recent roundtable on the impact of late payments, such as better reporting around payment practices.

The government plans to extend the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations 2017, following a consultation. This will mean new metrics for reporting, including value, so that the value of invoices, including invoices paid late, will be incorporated. There will also be a disputed invoices metric. Reporting on retention payments for businesses in the construction sector will also be introduced.

The government will also be “providing greater advice to small businesses on negotiating payment terms that better suit them, and on how going digital can help them get paid quicker and manage their cash flow.” This will involve work with partners and extending existing initiatives, such as Help to Grow and Growth Hubs.

The Small Business Commissioner will have broader responsibilities that will enable it to undertake investigations and publish reports based on anonymous information and intelligence where necessary. Primary legislation will be introduced at some point in the near future.

With SMEs owed an average £22,000 in late payments in 2022, the government said that improving payment culture in the UK could boost the economy by £2.5bn.

“SMEs make up 99% of firms in the UK and are the lifeblood of our economy. I know that late payments are a massive barrier to growth and I am determined to fix that,” said Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake added: “SMEs that are paid on time can do more business, scale up and make more profits, delivering growth for the economy.”

The announcement will be welcome news for small businesses grappling with late payments in the UK, says ICAEW Head of Business Simon Gray. “Cash flow is critical for small businesses, particularly against a backdrop of ongoing economic challenges, and the new measures announced by the Business and Trade Secretary should improve payment culture and reduce the time wasted chasing debt.

“But there’s still plenty of work to do. As one member of ours put it at a recent roundtable discussion with the Small Business Commissioner, ‘everyone is paying everyone late’. Until legislation is introduced to reinforce payment terms, it’s likely to remain an acute problem for Britain’s small businesses.”

More on late payments

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