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SMBs Doubtful Of UK’s New Small Business Commissioner

The U.K. appointed its first small business commissioner last year to champion faster payments for small suppliers and support small business (SMB) growth, but already the small business community doubts the effectiveness of the position.

Reports in SmallBusiness.co.uk on Wednesday (March 21) said Close Brothers Invoice Finance research found nearly 42 percent of small businesses surveyed don’t believe the launch of the small business commissioner will have an impact on their business. Meanwhile, 42 percent aren’t sure whether the role will work as intended.

Only 16.2 percent said they believe the appointment of the commissioner will strengthen the small business community.

Paul Uppal was appointed to the role of small business commissioner last year. He has been operating in the position for just three months.

“While the launch of an independent ombudsman with powers to intervene on SMEs’ behalf is well-intentioned, the jury is out on whether it will have any significant impact,” said Close Brothers Invoice Finance CEO David Thomson in a statement. “Our research suggests that many SMEs are far from convinced that the commissioner is going to be able to provide them with the help they need on issues such as late payments.”

More than a quarter of SMBs said they want Uppal to focus on increasing their access to resources and services. More than 15 percent said they want him to focus on tackling late payments, while an additional 15 percent said their top priority for Uppal is to support SMBs when in contractual disputes with larger companies.

“Mr. Uppal needs to be given time to prove that the small business commissioner really can make a difference on some of the difficult issues that threaten SMEs’ potential to thrive and grow,” Thomson said. “However, there is a great deal of work to do to prove this scheme really is going to help SMEs secure the support they need.”

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