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Late payment tops SME election agenda

Tackling late and unfair payment practices has been at the top of the small business agenda throughout the 2015 election campaign.

Most of the main political parties have directly addressed the issue in their manifestos and have all pledged varying degrees of support for toughening the rules against delayed and unfair payments.

Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that 17% of small firms have had to deal with unfair practices and just 21% of FSB members have confidence in the Prompt Payment Code (PPC).

The Conservatives

The Tories have promised to "strengthen" the pre-existing PPC and ensure that all large companies are signed up to the rules.

The party would create a Small Business Conciliation Service - a dispute resolution body that would settle disputes between companies over late payments.

Labour

Labour provides less detail about how the party intends to reverse the UK's culture of late payment. In their manifesto, they simply state that they will "strengthen rules on late payment".

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats do not mention the PPC or unfair business practices in their manifesto.

UKIP

UKIP believes that existing rules are not suitable for preventing unfair payment practices. They suggest allowing small businesses to submit evidence of repeated late payments to HMRC. A system of escalating fines would be put into place to deter large firms from acting unfairly.

Their manifesto states that the party believes that "it is not acceptable for big businesses to exploit smaller firms by deliberately delaying payments."

The Green Party

The Greens recommend passing legislation that enforces rules designed to prevent large firms from delaying payments to small and local businesses and would make sure this could be "properly enforceable".

Scottish National Party

The SNP has promised to urge the future UK government to develop new protections for small businesses against late payment.

In their manifesto, it states:

"We believe that more should be done to help small businesses with cash flow and will press the UK government to introduce effective legal protections to ensure small businesses are paid on time."

Despite the uncertainty that surrounds the results of the election and the potential government it may produce, it seems that some measures will be taken to help protect small businesses from the effects of late payment.

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