UK micro-businesses not optimistic about late payment tsar


A poll revealed that just 2 per cent of respondents thought the forthcoming Small Business Commissioner would actually be able to address the issue of late payments.

The survey, which polled more than 700 freelancers and micro-business owners, also revealed that 57 per cent of respondents said they didn’t know there was a late payments tsar position that was due to be filled.

The stats come just days after the government announced it was stepping up the hunt for the new Small Business Commissioner, whose primary role will be to tackle the culture of late payments and “become a national spokesperson for small businesses affected by payment issues”.

However, previous research suggests that whoever is appointed to the new position may have their work cut out for them, as the late payment problem is so widespread. In 2015, half of all invoices sent by UK freelancers and micro-businesses were paid late, while in some areas like Sheffield, as few as one in four invoices were paid on time.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: “Late payment is a huge problem that has needed to be addressed for a long time. We’ve found that the overwhelming majority of freelancers and micro-business owners have experienced a late paying client at some point in their career, and there are a significant number of invoices that are paid late in the UK every year.

“However, while it’s good news that the government has decided to address this issue with its search for a small business commissioner, it’s clear from our research that the micro-business community remains skeptical about the move. Hardly any micro-business owners believe that this commissioner will actually be successful in tackling late payment – and most of them don’t even know that the role has been created in the first place.

“I hope that once the successful candidate is appointed, the government will equip them with adequate powers to penalise late payers and send a message that persistent offenders will not be tolerated. It’s not enough to simply name and shame companies who are putting freelancers’ and micro-businesses’ futures at risk.”