A new commissioner to support ‘lifeblood’ SMEs

The Constituency View with Henry Smith MP SUS-170126-103725001
The Constituency View with Henry Smith MP SUS-170126-103725001

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. These aren’t just words, but a call to action from government following the release of figures showing that SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) benefitted from £12.2 billion worth of central government spending in 2015-16.

To support small firms, central government continues to work towards the goal of spending one pound in every three with SMEs by 2022.

I’ve written to the Crawley branch of the Federation of Small Businesses to urge their members to consider applying for government work, the online Contracts Finder allows firms to search for information about contracts worth over £10,000: www.gov.uk/contracts-finder

From 2010 to 2015, the number of Crawley businesses increased by more than 600 to over 3,600. However we can’t be complacent – setting up and maintaining a business is not easy.

Proposals which will help encourage further spending to flow to SMEs will shortly be put up for public consultation. These measures include the use of transparency to encourage large businesses to employ more SMEs in the supply chain, improving visibility of opportunities available to SMEs in the supply chain, and making prompt payment part of the selection process for larger suppliers.

The newly-appointed Small Business Commissioner will help empower small firms to resolve payment disputes with larger companies, and help avoid future issues by encouraging a culture change in payment practices and how businesses deal with each other.

The Commissioner will be providing advice to small businesses on matters such as resolving disputes, and signposting small businesses to existing support and dispute resolution services. This office will also have a complaints handling function and will take consideration of complaints regarding payment-related issues between small business suppliers (with fewer than 50 staff) and their larger customers, making recommendations on resolving disputes.

Small businesses provide almost half of private sector employment. Their success creates jobs, pays wages, generates growth, and so provides the funding for our public services.