Recognition PR's Graham Robb (left) and Emily Bentley from Tees Valley Business Club
Recognition PR's Graham Robb (left) and Emily Bentley from Tees Valley Business Club
Richard Bell

Small Business Commissioner to address late payments crisis in North East visit

The Government is sending its Small Business Commissioner to the North East next month as part of a UK-wide crackdown on late payments to small firms.

Paul Uppal will participate in a Q&A with small businesses at the STEM Centre in Middlesbrough to highlight how he is tackling the issue, which collectively costs smaller companies £2.5bn annually.

The Government set up the office of the Small Business Commissioner in December 2017 to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses.

Mr Uppal’s remit is to support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger firms and ultimately effect a change in payment practices.

The position was created in response to figures showing that a third of payments to small businesses are made late. As the average value of each payment is £6,142, it is believed to be causing cash flow problems for 20% of small businesses (well over one million enterprises).

At the Middlesbrough event, taking place September 4, the Commissioner will explain how he is working to ensure supply chain resilience through timely payments.

He will also talk about the measures already introduced and the support available on disputes over outstanding invoices.

Investment service provider Tier One Capital is sponsoring the Q&A, which is organised by online networking group the North East of England Business Network alongside Tees Valley Business Club.

Commissioner Paul Uppal said: “The North East and Tees Valley regions are home to a vibrant cluster of small businesses and I am looking forward to hearing their inspiring stories and the challenges they are facing to drive forward their enterprises.

“Through my role I aim to give small businesses they support they deserve, in particular to ensure fair payment practices, which are essential in helping them to thrive.”

Graham Robb, senior partner at Darlington-based Recognition PR and owner of the North East of England Business Network, commented: “The Small Business Commissioner has a vital role to support smaller enterprises, which are essential to the UK economy, and we are pleased he is coming to the North East to meet some of the area’s entrepreneurial firms.

“Smaller businesses, those that have a turnover less than £6.5m and fewer than 50 employees, are the lifeblood of the UK economy. However, late payments put their health at serious risk, and in turn the livelihoods of entrepreneurs and their employees. The role of the commissioner will go some way to addressing the late payment crisis and I encourage North East small businesses to come and meet him and find out more.”

Tees Valley Business Club’s Jane Reynolds said: “Small businesses account for more than 99% of all private sector companies, yet they are the ones at most risk from the poor practices of large organisations.

“Having the support of the Commissioner is a significant benefit to small firms in their mission to get paid for the quality products and services they provide.”

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