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Industry to push for Small Business Commissioner construction remit

Proposed legislation introduced this month to the Lords is hoped to ramp up pressure to include the construction sector under an ongoing revamp of special commissioner’s powers

Several industry bodies have called for planned amendments by the government to the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to be expanded to apply to the construction and built environment sector.

Both BESA and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) have said that proposed legislation, focused on poor payment practice,  had now been introduced to the House of Lords and would be an important tool to press for change in how business practice is enforced around construction. The new bill was introduced earlier this month by Labour Peer Lord Mendelsohn.

ECA Business director Rob Driscoll and BESA’s legal and commercial director Debbie Petford have welcomed Lord Mendelsohn’s decision to use a Private Members’ Bill to propose major reforms to payment practice.

The Bill would specifically deliver on two key policies that BESA and ECA have consistently called for in the lead up to the 2019 general election.

“Specifically, this includes greater transparency around payment performance and expanding the abilities of the Small Business Commissioner to include powers to investigate and fine persistent late payers, and confirmation that the construction industry is included within its remit.”

The comments have been made in the same week that the government announced that it had appointed Phillip King as interim Small Business Commissioner while it looks to make a full-time appointment.

Mr King was previously the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) and will now lead work in administering the Prompt Payment Code. This requires signatories to pay 95 per cent of their invoices within 60 days.

Government added that it is committed to strengthen the powers afforded to the Small Business Commissioner. It said these powers could include being able to compel a particular party to disclose details on their payment terms and practices. The introduction of financial penalties on larger companies found to be responsible for poor payment practices is also expected to be introduced.


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