A meeting this week, which will be chaired by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, will examine just how bad the problem of late payment has got for SMEs, and among those giving evidence will be the Forum of Private Business.
The event will hear evidence from four panels, one consisting of business groups including the forum, another of representatives from FTSE listed companies, one of suppliers, and one of business and economics experts.
Each panel will be questioned for around 40 minutes by parliamentarians on the scale of late payments, the impact of late payments on SMEs and the wider economy, the effectiveness of current payment systems and tools including the Prompt Payment Code, and their recommendations on further steps needed to address late payments.
Alex Jackman, the forum’s head of policy, said: “Late and slow payment amounts to little more than supply chain abuse, that is big business bullying small firms to boost their own profit margins.
“We know from recent high-profile examples that the situation, far from improving, is spiralling out of control. Hopefully this investigation can shine a light on the issue and expose the real and serious problems it causes for small business.
“In the current climate, with access to credit tight for so many small firms, it is a destructive and debilitating practice which threatens the existence of SMEs and therefore jobs.
“There are numerous issues that need to be discussed. The fact so many big-name businesses who take 90 days or longer to pay have signed the PPC, for example, has to be looked at. We think there’s a strong case for the terms of the code being tightened up.”
The all-party inquiry into late payment takes place on Tuesday, 23 April, at the Houses of Parliament’s Grimmond Room, Portcullis House, between 2pm and 5pm.