Business: Billing

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that large companies issue payments to contractors within reasonable times.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Last year Government launched a Call for Evidence to assess what further steps and intervention may be needed to create a responsible payment culture. A full response will be published shortly and will contain a full package of policy measures.

During the Spring Statement, the Government announced that it will require large company’s Audit Committees to review payments practices and report them in their annual accounts. This will elevate payment practices to Board level and increase transparency.

Government is clear that unfavourable payment practices is a serious issue, particularly for smaller businesses. That is why we have a range of measures in place with the aim to address the imbalance in market power between parties, increase transparency and encourage better payment practices through culture change.

The Payment Practices and Performance Reporting Requirement requires large businesses to report biannually on their payment practices and performance. Businesses must publish this information on gov.uk, providing transparency in payment practices and making payment behaviour a reputational, board room issue. To date over 13,000 reports have been submitted.

The Small Business Commissioner, launched in December 2017, is committed to supporting Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses to resolve payment disputes with larger private sector businesses, helping drive a culture change in payment practices.

Government continues to support the Prompt Payment Code as a best practice in payment standards. Last year, my rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a new, tough and transparent compliance regime to ensure the Code is rigorously enforced. The Secretary of State also announced that he had appointed the Small Business Commissioner to the Prompt Payment Code Compliance Board.

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