Energy supplier BES Utilities today threw its support behind Government moves to crack down on the scourge of late payments which threaten many small firms.
Worrying new figures show small and medium sized businesses in the UK are owed a total of £26.8bn in overdue payments.
Now, through the launch of its new Enterprise Bill, the Government says it believes a small business conciliation service will change the culture of how disputes with other companies are resolved.
As part of the Bill, unveiled this week, a new Small Business Commissioner would give firms advice, support, mediation and conciliation services.
Presently an estimated £10.8bn is spent each year in attempts to recover late payments.
The announcement of a new Small Business Commissioner was today backed by Fleetwood-based commercial energy supplier BES Utilities, owned by Fleetwood Town FC chairman Andy Pilley.
BES Utilities director Michelle Davidson said: “BES fully welcomes the Government’s pledge to give small business owners a voice and new powers to address the distressing issue of late payments.
“We know first-hand the difficulties many of our gas, electricity and telecoms customers face in such challenging economic times as these, largely through no fault of their own.
“These late or unpaid payments can have a crippling effect on cash flow and can cost jobs, livelihoods and ultimately they see many proud and historic family-run businesses go under.
“So BES Utilities is delighted moves are afoot to at least begin to tackle an issue which blights not only many of our own customers but thousands of other hard working businesses across the UK.”
More than half (55 per cent) of small and medium sized enterprises in the UK do not survive more than five years. Research earlier this year showed almost a quarter of Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses have been pushed into financial crisis because of late payments. Michelle said BES “firmly believes in helping our customers stay in business”. She added: “This is one of the reasons why we recently launched our new Business Energy Solutions Fund – a scheme designed to help our struggling electricity and gas customers stay afloat during tough economic times.
“The scheme, which has been in development for several months, is the first set up to assist the commercial energy market. Through the BES Fund, run in association with Business Debtline, customers can apply to have their current BES debt frozen and then written off.”