5th Oct 2017
The long awaited appointment of a small business commissioner has finally happened. Paul Uppal, a former Tory MP and entrepreneur, has been appointed by business secretary Greg Clark.
The office was first proposed back in July 2015 by Clark’s ministerial predecessor Anna Soubry. The overdue appointment is part of the government’s industrial strategy. The government has neglected to explain the delay.
The government created the post to act as as a champion for small businesses, in particular dealing with The UK’s chronic late payment problem and helping with conflict resolution. The small business commissioner will also offer information and advice, all housed on its own dedicated website.
Uppal is the former MP for Wolverhampton South West. He has 20 years of experience as a small business owner in the real estate sector and will be based in Birmingham.
Reacting to his appointment, Uppal said: “Running your own business can be a very lonely experience and my priority will be ensuring small firms feel supported as well as helping to create an overall impression that business isn’t necessarily cut throat.
“In fact, successful businesses are built on integrity, entrepreneurial spirit and trusting relationships and I want to highlight that Britain can be the best place in the world for new entrepreneurs to establish and grow their own businesses.”
In a statement, Clarke said: “[Uppal’s] extensive experience as a small business owner makes him perfectly suited to champion the interests of small business and bring about a change in culture that will create a level playing field for everyone.”
In his new role, Uppal will have the power to publish public reports naming-and-shaming late payers. Crucially though, he will hold no legal power and cannot force payment.
That said, the Federation of Small Businesses's chairman Mike Cherry is hopeful. “This Commissioner has the potential to make a real impact on addressing bad practice across the UK economy’s payment culture,” said Cherry. “However, the role must have a clear focus on tackling supply chain bullying, and sufficient powers to intervene and resolve late payment disputes in a timely and effective way.”
About Francois Badenhorst
I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter.