Small Business Commissioner calls on big firms to help SME’s reach net zero

Liz Barclay says waiting to get paid could stop SME's taking steps towards carbon reduction

Slow paying customers could stop SME’s reaching a greener future says the Small Business Commissioner.

The Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay has called for big businesses to help their smaller suppliers with the transition to net-zero and suggested that they should share the benefits.

As the COP26 Summit in Glasgow enters its second week, the commissioner who took over in July appeared to criticise big firms, in a statement released by her office.

“My team and I focus on helping small businesses struggling to deal with the poor payment practices of larger firms. These often include late payments, short-notice contract variations or, even non-payment for work.

These have a negative impact on the cash flow of a small business and aren’t acceptable. Given some of the wider challenges small businesses face post-Covid around debts, loan repayments and rising costs, waiting to get paid could stop them taking steps towards carbon reduction.”

The statement continued, calling on bigger customers to commit to simple and quick payment processes, giving priority to paying small business invoices, and giving practical help to their small suppliers.

Robert Candy, Chief Executive of the Scaffolding Association – the UK’s largest scaffolding trade association welcomed the message commenting: “The Scaffolding Association advocates moving towards a sustainable future, but businesses, particularly SME’s, cannot do this without help and support. Some of this needs to come from the government but industry must also do its bit and changing the behaviour of big businesses has a vital part to play in this.

He added, “Given that the construction sector accounts for 20% of the UK’s SME’s and has more than any other industry sector, this approach for us, is even more critical.”