Helen Green

The Small Business Conciliation Service

As you might expect at the beginning of a Parliamentary term The Queen’s Speech this week was packed with measures covering a wide range of issues. From the business perspective there are two measures which stand out.

The first is a continuance of the move to remove the burden of red tape which costs businesses so much in time and effort. Scheduled as part of the Enterprise Bill, the aim is to cut red tape by £10 billion over the next five years. Whether it succeeds or not only time will tell but one interesting aspect of this bill is that for the first time the move steps outside government and looks to bodies such as independent regulators to play their part.

Another key measure within the proposed Enterprise Bill is the creation of a Small Business Conciliation Service. Designed to step in and mediate disputes particularly between small and large businesses, the service is expected to build on an existing suite of measures to tackle poor practice including late payments. This reflects a growing mood in the country about the way in which relationships between businesses needs to be reformed to take account of fairness and respect.

With small firms being owed over £32 billion in late payments, there is a fair amount of work to do in this field and, no matter what the legislation, it will be up to leaders of businesses large and small to review their external relationships and look for a more equitable way of dealing with suppliers and customers.