Meet the new small business Tzsar
BBC journalist Liz Barclay appointed small business commissioner
Liz Barclay has a long history of campaigning for social justice when it comes to consumer rights and personal finance. She has presented Radio 4 consumer affairs programme You and Yours. The small business commissioner post was established in 2016 to help small businesses get paid on time.
Barclay will take over from interim commissioner Philip King just as the office is expected to be given greater powers. Last year, the government consulted on new powers for the commissioner, including the power to order payments, levy fines and open investigations based on third-party information. The responses to the consultation and further proposals have yet to be published. Small business are currently chasing more than £50bn of late payments, according to digital banking platform Tide. The average UK SME is chasing five outstanding invoices at any one time, using up an astonishing 1.5 hours a day, with an average of £8,500 owed. The government’s own figures are that £23.4bn is owed in outstanding invoices to British businesses. In August 2019, a quarter of SMEs told chartered accountants organisation the ICAEW that late payments had become a bigger issue than a year ago. The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that 50,000 SMEs are forced out of business because of late payment.
Barclay said: “We need a real culture change around business payments in the UK to take pressure off our phenomenal entrepreneurs. People who have already delivered goods and services have to be able to turn their attention to their next client and next order rather than chasing up late payments and worrying about their cashflow. I know from personal experience how damaging that can be to mental and emotional health.”