Contractors' body beckons small business commissioner

The need for a small business commissioner has been underlined by new research showing that about three-quarters of contractors’ disputes with clients relate to not being paid on time.

According to IPSE, the contractors’ body which produced the finding after surveying its members, working with recruiters is no panacea, as only a third of contractors who had an agency dispute were satisfied with the outcome.

The findings follow reported promises by Anna Soubry, the small business minister, that the commissioner will personally pick up the phone to late payers on behalf of those they leave out-of-pocket.

In fact, although the commissioner will do “a lot of work behind the scenes,” he or she will also hopefully deal directly with the “chief executive” of the late-paying company, the minister told the This is Money.

But it won’t just be payment that small traders like one-man bands can turn to the commissioner about, according to Chris Bryce of IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

“The commissioner should be the first point of call for all business disputes,” he said, speaking after a meeting with Australia’s small business commissioner – the model for the UK version.

My Bryce added: “A small business commissioner will give businesses in the UK an independent body to help defend and settle their disputes outside the court room.”

Also at the meeting was David Morris MP, the ‘tsar’ for independent working. He says the commissioner will “help small businesses handle disputes over late payment and other supply chain practices”.

Seeming aware that the expectation is that the commissioner will challenge late payers in person, Mr Morris reflected: “Whoever the government appoints as commissioner must have credibility and gravitas”.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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