Freelancers and self-employed people in the UK are not convinced that the introduction of a new government-appointed small business commissioner will make a difference in addressing the persistent problem of late payments.
Earlier this month, the government announced that it has commenced a formal search for a qualified candidate to fill the newly-created role, whose primary role will be to tackle the culture of late payments and become a national spokesperson for small companies that are struggling to receive prompt payment from larger clients.
However, a survey of more than 700 freelancers and micro-business owners carried out by OnePoll and commissioned by FreeAgent has indicated that just two per cent of respondents thought the move will make an appreciable difference in addressing the late payment problem.
By contrast, 57 per cent of those polled were unaware that the government had even announced the creation of this new role, suggesting more needs to be done to publicise the move and address scepticism around its potential effectiveness if the desired change in company culture is to be achieved.
A recent report from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed indicated that on average, freelancers are currently spending 20 days a year chasing invoices for late payment, with the time taken equating to an estimated £16.5 billion in lost income.
In April 2017, new laws will be introduced that will make it necessary for large businesses to publicly report on the time taken to pay their suppliers, but the FreeAgent report indicates that more action may needed to properly address the problem.
Ed Molyneux, chief executive officer and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: “I hope that once the successful candidate is appointed, the government will equip them with adequate powers to penalise late payers and send a message that persistent offenders will not be tolerated.
“It’s not enough to simply name and shame companies who are putting freelancers’ and micro-businesses’ futures at risk.”