The government department for Business Innovation and Skills has announced a consultation into proposals to establish a Small Business Commissioner to help small business resolve supply chain bullying and late payment disputes with larger businesses.
It is estimated that small firms are owed £26bn in late payments - and chasing debts costs them millions of pounds more. Business minister Anna Soubry said the role would tackle the power "imbalance" between small and large UK businesses.
Plans for a new small business conciliation service to help settle disputes - specifically over late payment - were announced in the recent Queen's speech.
The service aims to handle problems without the need for court action.
As part of the new Enterprise Bill the government wants to create a commissioner role to deal with outstanding payments and supply-chain bullying, where suppliers are forced to cut their prices in order to retain the custom of much bigger firms.
It said the commissioner would:
- Be a point of first contact for small businesses and provide advice and support on how to avoid disputes and how to resolve them
- Offer access to mediation services to sort out issues quickly and affordably, "at a fraction of the cost of going to court"
- Investigate complaints over unfair business practices and regularly report its findings.
Small Business Commissioner Consultation
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
2nd Floor, Orchard 2
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET