Late payment: was the Small Business Commissioner too successful in holding large companies to account?

Tony Groom of K2 Partners asked this question after Birmingham-based Paul Uppal was forced to leave his government appointed post as Small Business Commissioner, which he had held for two years..

He was required to leave a few months after it had been announced that the government was consulting on giving him more powers to tackle the UK’s poor payment culture, including the widely called for power to impose fines on ‘large outfits’ who pay late. (See Contractor UK’s late payment letters’ templates here)

The chair of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “We’ve welcomed his efforts to name and shame larger companies, including Holland and Barrett, Bupa and Zurich, for poor payment practices. He also led efforts to reform the toothless Prompt Payment Code. [So] this is a disappointing development, one that will put the brakes on our efforts to date”.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) agreed, saying Mr Uppal’s resignation would be regarded as “troubling news” by people who work for themselves.

His departure is said to relate to his voluntary involvement with the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS). a system to let small firms complain about banks. The organisation is not yet in operation and he had not attended any meetings whilst working as commissioner. Tony Groom asked:

  • Why was Mr Uppal sacked?
  • Has the Government been successfully lobbied by some large corporates to roll back this initiative?
  • Was it becoming too successful?
  • Was it due to his involvement in establishing a bank redress scheme that was claimed to be a conflict of interest?
  • Have UK’s SMEs been consigned to limbo?





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