Three quarters of the British public agree that the next Government should take action on big business ethics. This includes the government committing to penalising corporates that act unfairly towards small businesses in areas such as supply chain contracts and late payment.

The majority of the British public believes that policy to promote ethical practices among big businesses should be prioritised by the next Government, and is calling for the next Government to commit to penalising corporates that act unfairly towards small businesses, a new poll shows.

The ComRes poll of 2,000 British adults shows crisis of trust in big business. Commissioned by the Forum of Private Business, the small business membership organisation, the poll showed that over three quarters (78%) of adults in Britain agree that big businesses are more likely to prioritise profits over high ethical standards, while 74% of adults agree that the majority of big businesses have no concern for small business owners in the UK.

Late payment and excessive payment terms over 30 days has for a long time been a big issue for small businesses, exacerbating credit scarcity and costs. FPB chief executive Phil Orford said “There must be a balance between the need to attract the world’s biggest companies to Britain, ensuring we have the best environment for business, and protecting the interests of the UK’s hardworking independent small business people.

“It is time for Britain’s honest workers who play by the rules to have their say and it’s time for their interests to be heard.”

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-15 currently going through parliament will require larger companies to report on theoir payment practices. Whether this is enough to engender a more ethical behaviour remains to be seen. Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined the debate over business ethics, arguing that big companies should consider how they could better use their powerful positions to support society.