A search is under way to find the UK’s first ever small business commissioner. The role, expected to be filled shortly, will require a unique set of skills.
One of the key remits of the new commissioner will be around late payments. They will provide general advice and information, handle complaints about payment issues and direct small businesses to existing dispute resolution services.
This will be vital in powering economic growth in a post-Brexit environment. Recent findings from the payment processor BACS report that nearly half of the UK’s small-to-medium sized businesses experience late payment, with £26.3 billion owed to them in total. Tungsten’s own research from 2015 supports this figure.
It’s not just about working capital, though, it’s also about supporting business growth in other ways. When calling for applicants, Small Business Minister Margot James said: “Addressing the barriers businesses face when scaling up and growing is an important part of a modern Industrial Strategy, and this appointment will play an integral role in ensuring small businesses have the support they need to thrive and grow.”
As a Network at the nexus between buying organisations and their supply chains, processing invoices and offering faster payments, we have seen first-hand the constructive effect prompt payments can have. The ability to arrange early payments, shorter than the pre-agreed payment term, can also have a hugely positive impact in helping businesses and economies grow.
This is why Tungsten Network has strengthened its financing offer to thousands of firms in the UK and US with an overhaul of its Early Payment solution for SMEs, marking a new chapter in Tungsten’s history as an alternative finance provider.
Originally launched in 2015, Tungsten Network Early Payment has been offering flexible, transparent funding to many SMEs at the touch of a button. With the latest extension to the product, which enables lower rates to be charged alongside more transparency and flexibility, Tungsten is increasing the number of businesses for whom it can provide finance to support their growth and stability.
To further extend the businesses it can support with alternative finance, Tungsten Network has also joined forces with leading supply chain finance provider Orbian. As of last month, Tungsten has been able to use its technology platform to provide seamless supply chain finance programmes for the larger customers on our e-invoicing network.
Through supporting buyers to mitigate late payments by automating the invoicing and payment process, Tungsten has for years been supporting suppliers with the visibility they need. By taking advantage of the extended offering around early payments, suppliers can now secure easier access to liquidity, enabling them to make informed and empowered decisions on when and how they grow their business.
Chronic late payments are hoped to become a thing of the past under the new commissioner. A broader discussion around responsibility in the supply chain will also no doubt be prompted and I would argue that there is an opportunity for the business community itself to find a solution to combat late payments, not the government.
As an independent and entrepreneurial nation, the UK will no doubt wish to champion the needs of small businesses and start-ups by encouraging all businesses to approach their supply chain collaboratively. As a business that has been doing just that for years, this is something we are welcoming with open arms.