The Road Haulage Association has been driven into action on behalf of its members who are experiencing delayed trade payments by large aggregates customers. Some of these large aggregates companies supply materials for large public sector projects like motorway building for the Highways Agency.
The RHA has begun talks with Department of Transport and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to see whether Government can intervene and put some pressure on these slow payers, probably motivated in part by what happened the other week at Serco, the outsourcing company used by the government to run prisons etc.
If you recall, the FD of Serco sent a letter to its main suppliers asking them to agree to a 2.5% retrospective rebate on annual spend, but later apologised for sending it after the Government made it known that they were less than pleased with Serco’s “bully boy” tactics.
By the nature of their business, haulage contractors tend to be highly geared, so late payments from customers will only exacerbate working capital problems still further.
It remains to be seen whether the RHA gets anywhere with its protestations, but coming out in the open about this issue does serve to reinforce the ongoing message that SMEs in the UK continue to suffer from large clients wielding their purchasing power by paying trade invoices late, and effectively using suppliers’ money as a cheap form of finance.
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