Business: Billing

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Viscount Waverley Viscount Waverley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to use blockchain-based smart-contracts to ensure that small and medium sized enterprises are protected from late payment by larger companies in the supply chain.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government recognises the impact late payments can have on businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises.

Blockchain technology is one solution of how this can be tackled.. For example, smart contracts can initiate payments based on digitally approved work or digitally tracked goods delivery. This enables businesses to be paid automatically, reducing the need for invoicing and preventing delays in payments. The technology ensures a high level of transparency for all parties involved, and helps prevent organisations from taking unilateral actions to alter original contracts.

The Government is supporting the development of blockchain technology in the UK and officials in the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport are exploring potential pilot projects with government departments. The Department for Business recently published the government response on the call for evidence to end late payments to small businesses. Many SMEs supply to government and, as one of the UK's largest corporate buyers, it is our responsibility to ensure suppliers are paid promptly and to examine where the use of technology can help with this.

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