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Prompt Payment Code

Volume 564: debated on Thursday 13 June 2013

5. What steps he is taking to ensure that small business suppliers are paid promptly by large businesses and by government; and if he will make a statement. (159356)

I have written to all the FTSE 350 companies urging them to sign up to the prompt payment code. Signatories must pay their invoices on time to maintain membership. Three quarters of FTSE 100 companies are now signatories, and over 1,400 large companies have signed in total.

Last year a Federation of Small Businesses report showed that 40% of small businesses had faced problems with payment from Government agencies and quangos. Will the Minister make the prompt payment code mandatory for all public sector organisations and consider budget cuts for persistent offenders?

There is now a statutory obligation for all public bodies, including the NHS and local authorities, to pay invoices within 30 days.

Does the Minister agree that paying small and medium suppliers on time is part of the broader responsibilities of the large company? Will he look at the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which is making a real difference for small and medium-sized enterprises and their relationships with taxpayer-funded local authorities and health authorities? Will he try to ensure that large companies pay taxes and have a broader responsibility to the community in which they sit?

That goes a little wider than the original question, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman. There are large companies sitting on large amounts of cash, and it is not right that smaller businesses in their supply chains should have to wait longer than 30 days to be paid promptly.