Dear Mr Bramhall,

Thank you for your letter of 14th October following on from the EATV lunch.

I was very pleased to attend the lunch and to hear the issues raised. I appreciate your concern about late payments to SMEs. I understand that Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) have been working with business representatives including the British Chambers of Commerce on a variety of ways to transform the culture of late payments, including through more efficient payment processes.

Ministers believe that the Prompt Payment Code is currently the most appropriate vehicle to do this, and aims that it should be the norm for businesses to sign up to the Code. While I am sure the need for new legislation will always be kept under review, you will be aware that the Government’s general view is that legislation should be a last resort at a time when we are looking to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses. lt is also important that the Government itself ensures that prompt payments to its main contractors benefits SMEs further down the supply chain, and I am therefore pleased to note that all Departments include a clause in their contracts that requires main contractors to pay their suppliers within 30 days.

I hope this is useful, and I will certainly keep in mind your concerns whenever I speak to BIS Ministers and businesses organisations.

Thank you again for writing. Yours sincerely,
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP


An open response:

2nd December 2019

Dear Mrs May,

It’s now more than 6 years since you wrote, responding to my concerns about small businesses being paid on time. Since then the FSB estimates 50,000 business have gone bankrupt every year as a result of late payments. The Times recently reported your Government as being indifferent to late payment. Your last small business commissioner, Paul Uppal,  stepped down in October, saying his office had been met with “radio silence” from civil servants and ministers over his approach to the job and that his budget was too small to tackle the “huge task” of getting big businesses to pay their bills on time.

In other words, no real commitment from ministers and no real results towards getting small business paid on time.

What price salvation?

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Bramhall