Corbyn woos small businesses with plan for crackdown on late payments

Labour would also scrap quarterly reporting for small firms and move to help them secure finance

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 11 April 2017 00:10 BST
The Labour leader plans to ‘declare war on late payment’
The Labour leader plans to ‘declare war on late payment’ (PA)

Jeremy Corbyn is to try and woo small business owners with a package of reforms aimed at helping small-time entrepreneurs, self-employed tradespeople, and local firms.

In a speech at the Federation of Small Businesses the Labour leader will “declare war on late payment” as well as unveil plans to cut red tape for companies with an annual turnover of less than £83,000.

He will also flesh out proposals for a network of regional investment banks, which he says will help smaller firms access the funding they need to expand.

The Labour leader will link the help for small businesses to his party’s overall strategy for growth and its more interventionist approach to managing the economy.

He will also name and shame large firms including E.On, Capita, BT Group, Vodafone, National Grid and Marks & Spencer which he says contribute to withholding more than £26 billion from suppliers through late payment, driving 50,000 out of business ever year.

“Cash is king for any business, and big companies are managing their cash by borrowing – interest free - from their suppliers,” Mr Corbyn is expected to say.

“Some of the biggest names in business are holding cash piles that don’t actually belong to them.

“It’s a national scandal. And it’s stopping businesses from growing and causing thousands to go bust every year. It kills jobs and holds back economic growth.”

Mr Corbyn says any company bidding for public sector contracts under a Labour government will be bound to pay its suppliers within 30 days. The party will also consult on a system of “binding arbitration” to resolve late payments disputes in the private sector.

He will also pledge to scrap quarterly tax reporting for small businesses, describing the proposal as a “burden” and “distraction” that would harm the economy.

“We will support those striving to make a living through self-employment and in small businesses,” Mr Corbyn will say.

“Not just because it is the right and fair thing to do, but because millions of jobs and the future of our country depends on it.”

He will continue: “In last month’s budget, the chancellor bowed to pressure by delaying the implementation of quarterly reporting for small businesses by one year. That’s not good enough. Labour is against small businesses having to report quarterly. It’s a burden, a distraction, that will hold entrepreneurs back.

“Labour will scrap quarterly reporting for small businesses with a turnover of less than £83,000 a year to help you focus on growing your business.”

Labour has used the parliamentary recess to announce a series of policy initiatives. On Monday Mr Corbyn re-launched plans for a £10 minimum wage; last week he spelled out plans for universal free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by taxing private school fees.

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