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Government announces crackdown on late payment to small businesses

The government marked Small Business Saturday by announcing several measures to support SME growth and job creation.

The measures include a promise to ensure that small businesses are paid on time for public sector work. The Cabinet Office says this will be enforced through its Mystery Shopper service. Earlier this year, CN revealed that the majority of electrical subcontractors are paid on time (within 30 days) for public sector contracts less than 20 per cent of the time.

A consultation is also taking place on which steps can be taken to tackle late payment in the private sector. This aims to make small businesses more aware of their statutory rights and will also look into whether there is a case for enhancing these rights.

Other announcements included £100m in broadband vouchers to help small firms access faster connectivity; smart grants of up to £100,000 for R&D projects; and the introduction of a Small Business Appeals Champion to regulatory bodies.

The announcements followed last week’s Autumn Statement, which announced the capping of business rates increases, improved terms for companies in receipt of small business rate relief, and the abolition of employer national insurance payments for most under 21 year olds.

Small Business Saturday took place on 7 December and saw SMEs across the country take part in one-off promotions. The scheme was kicked off by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna after he noticed the popularity and success of the US version, first held in 2010.

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