[Mr Jim Hood in the Chair] — Late Payments (SMEs)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:24 am on 14th September 2011.

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Photo of Andrew Griffiths Andrew Griffiths Conservative, Burton 10:24 am, 14th September 2011

The hon. Lady makes a good point. It is a case of better jam tomorrow than no jam at all. Many businesses must make difficult decisions, and take risks to keep their work force ticking over and to sweat their assets.

I want to draw the Minister’s attention to a survey by Touch Financial. It surveyed 200 businesses and found that in the past year half of those had had their credit terms extended. The Forum of Private Businesses has a hall of shame of companies that have extended credit terms in that way. It includes well known businesses such as Dell, Argos, the Co-op and United Biscuits. Molson Coors in my constituency recently extended payment terms to suppliers there. That has a devastating effect, particularly when many of the businesses affected are being rung up by their banks, and told that their credit facility is being reduced—sometimes by up to half. It has a massive impact on cash flow, which as we know is the life blood of any small business. If we cut off that cash flow, those businesses will bleed to death.