Shortly before the Christmas and New Year break, the Government launched a new late payment complaints procedure to help smaller businesses challenge larger firms guilty of poor supply chain and procurement practices.

Centred around a new website for the office of the small business commissioner, Paul Uppal, the resource comprises step-by-step guidance for small businesses on how to deal with late invoice payments, including how to escalate payment issues when they get out of hand.

A new three-pronged “check, chase and choose” process is designed to help small business owners actively challenge poor supply chain practice, with the final stage signposting options for accessing legal advice, negotiating solutions and ultimately, submitting complaints to the commissioner.

While certain cases won’t fall within the commissioner’s remit, the new resource underlines the government’s will to tackle the scourge of late payment and encourage more efficient procurement procedures across the public and private sectors.

Typically, Britain’s 5 million plus SMEs bear the brunt of late payment practices with around a third of all invoices to smaller businesses paid late, with an average value of over £6,000. What’s more, it’s an issue not solely confined to the private sector, with the average large local authority paying approximately 16,000 invoices – worth nearly £30m – late in 2015/16 alone.

Commenting on the news, Ben Jackson, CEO of Oxygen Finance said:

“For too long, smaller businesses have had to accept late payment as part and parcel of doing business with larger firms but thankfully that is now starting to change. Forward-thinking organisations large and small are increasingly recognising the benefits of smarter procurement processes and thanks to initiatives like this, being more mindful of the penalties they could face for non-compliance with late payment legislation.”

Further information on the new procedure is available at smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk