Best foot forward – by Philip King FCICM
16 October 2019
Just before last weekend, BEIS announced that Paul Uppal had stood down from the role of Small Business Commissioner after two years in the post. I won’t speculate about the background or reasons for his departure. No benefit is derived from pointless or ill-informed comment. What I will say, however, is that I shall be disappointed not to be working with him in the months ahead.
He has built a team in Birmingham that is committed to supporting small business and addressing the issue of late payment, and his office has achieved some notable success to date. As I have told a succession of ministers over the last ten-plus years, there is no single silver bullet that will eradicate late payment. What is needed is a fundamental shift in business culture, and this will be achieved through a range of measures and initiatives, including legislation, voluntary codes, properly funded and resourced government support and activity, and – of course – good credit management. The Prompt Payment Code and the Small Business Commissioner are two such initiatives that have made, and continue to make, an impact.
Over the time since his appointment, I have spent many hours discussing issues with Paul, and I’ve shared a platform with him on many occasions. Our views have always been closely matched and that’s probably why we have worked so well together.
Regardless of the people involved, the work of the SBC’s office and of the Prompt Payment Code will continue and their impact will grow rather than diminish. I am seeing a real shift in mindset in the boardrooms of some of our largest companies, and that change is demonstrated by an increased recognition that the supply chain is integral to the quality of product or service delivered.
A journey is being travelled and we are making progress; I’m pleased the CICM is playing its part.
Journeys aren’t always easy. I walked from Paddington to the Royal Albert Hall last weekend and it was a pleasant stroll through Hyde Park. When I embarked on the return journey to Paddington in the pouring night-time rain, things weren’t quite so easy. Apple Maps refused to acknowledge that Hyde Park isn’t open at night so insisted on trying to route me back to the park at every opportunity. Suffice to say, the distance round Hyde Park is significantly longer than the distance through the park, and repeated unnecessary detours don’t make it any shorter! Thankfully, the journey to improve business culture requires little use of Apple Maps!
Finally, as the Brexit deadline date looms larger, please let me mention again the checklist the CICM has issued containing best-practice advice on knowing your customer: https://www.cicm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CICM_Brexit_Checklist.png