Government's wrong signal on late payments
At the weekend, I learned that BERR has completely withdrawn funding support for the website, “payontime.co.uk”, run by the Better Payment Practice Group- a lobby group that encourages companies to pay their bills on time. Not great timing on behalf of the government, especially when there is so much in the press about SMEs suffering cash flow difficulties due to slow trade payments from big company clients. Perhaps BERR is fed up with flogging a dead horse on this issue. Far from improving, trade payments are getting worse and worse.
Only last week, Matalan, the fashion retailer, announced that it will be imposing a 2% “contribution” discount on all supplier invoices in order to fund future investment in its business- the argument being that suppliers will be able to grow on the back of Matalan’s future growth.Thanks, but if I was a supplier, I might have chosen to invest directly in my own business first – given the choice!
BERR has said it is still engaging with “experts” on the subject of late payments, and is also exploring non legislative approaches to tackle the problem. Given the fact that the current government has plenty of things to worry about at the present time, I don’t expect immediate action on the subject.
I advise SMEs in particular to seek advice from their bankers or accountants as to how they can improve their credit management skill sets as a matter of some urgency.