At the FSB Staffordshire & West Midlands Stakeholder Engagement and Local Authority Awards Lunch in July 2019, our Keynote Speaker was the Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, who gave a great overview of the work of his office on late payments.
We were joined by our Stakeholders and key partners from across Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country - the event was attended by MPs, Board members from our 3 Local Enterprise Partnerships, Department for International Trade, Staffordshire and West Midlands Police Forces, our award winners from the 2019 FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards, our Sponsors of those awards, Council Leaders/Chief Executives/Senior Officers from our 15 Local Authorities across the patch and our 4 Chambers of Commerce.
The event also formed part of our FSB Local Authority Small Business Friendly Awards, whereby we were able to award some of our Councils for the amazing projects which lead them to become such worthy winners. It was great to be able to reference the work they are doing directly to it benefiting FSB members and other small businesses locally.
Through delivering these awards over the past 8 years, what has become abundantly clear year on year is that, through budget cuts and diminishing resources and, of course, the uncertainty caused by our proposed exit from Europe, FSB’s engagement with its critical partners, has gone from strength to strength. We can confidently say that we are both pleased and proud to be in partnership with every single one of them. The commitment and drive amongst these organisations to help small businesses to survive and prosper has never been more evident than through this awards process.
All of this tells us that all of our partners absolutely get the needs and barriers to growth for our members and other small firms and it is incredibly reassuring to see the amount of work and effort which is going on in these key areas.
There were three categories of awards were:
A joint ‘Highly Commended’ award was presented to Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council for their individual Start-up Loan Schemes being run to provide that buffer needed for individuals wishing to start a business but just need that little bit of help to get them off the starting blocks.
Best All Round Small Business Friendliness – Awarded to Stafford Borough Council for its wide spread suit of support offered to small firms across the borough, specifically targeting initiatives to increase footfall to the town centre, benefiting many small independent businesses.
• A Team – FSB Staffordshire & West Midlands Team – from left: Ian Preston (Area Lead), Rich Bishop (Regional Chair), Sara Windrum (Policy Lead), David Caro (Area Lead), Karen Woolley (Development Manager)
Small Business Commissioner (2nd left) with representatives from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.
Sandwell MBC – Winners of Best Procurement Policy. From left; David Caro (FSB Area Lead), Cllr Danny Millard and Nicy Morgan (Sandwell Council) and Ian Preston (FSB Area Lead)
Dudley Highly Commended Best Procurement Policy Category. From left; David Caro (FSB), Mike Folkard and Rose Younger (Dudley MBC) and Ian Preston (FSB)
City of Wolverhampton Council – Winners of Best Small Business Friendly Programme of Campaign. From left; Ian Preston (FSB), Jay Patel and Glenn Watts (Wolverhampton Council) and David Caro (FSB)
Tamworth MBC Highly Commended Best Small Business Friendly Programme or Campaign Category. From left; Ian Preston (FSB), Lorraine Farley (Tamworth BC) and David Caro (FSB)
Stafford Borough Council - Winners of Best All Round Small Business Friendliness. From left; David Caro (FSB), Robert Gattensbury (Stafford BC) and Ian Preston (FSB).
FSB research has found that small businesses are owed on average £6,142 mostly by larger firms not paying them for goods and services on time. For more than 10 years FSB has been highlighting the impact of late payment and supply-chain bullying. Practices range beyond simply paying late; we have seen retrospective discounting (larger firms forcing a discount of an already agreed price) and paying-to-stay (smaller companies pay larger firms to remain a supplier, but without the promise of any actual work). FSB tackled Carillion, 6 months before it collapsed, as we saw they were paying suppliers in 126 days – more than 4 months – and more latterly we have seen the collapse of British Steel which undoubtedly will involve some collateral damage in the supply chain.
Our research also shows 37% of small businesses have run into cash flow difficulties, 30% have been forced to use an overdraft and 20% cite a slowdown in profit growth. If all payments were made on time 50,000 more businesses could be kept open each year, whilst the UK economy would receive a £2.5 billion boost.
Action FSB has taken:
In Spring 2017 we were invited by the Government to be involved in the recruitment for the Government’s new Small Business Commissioner, who businesses should contact when they face a late payment difficulties - The Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) was launched later that year to ensure fair payment practices for Britain's small businesses, and support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and bring about culture change. To report late payment issues go to: https://www.smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk