Consistently late payments have prompted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to launch the search for someone to help resolve disputes, amid increasing pressure from industry bodies who say this issue is holding smaller firms back.
The final appointment decision on the appointment will be made by secretary of state Greg Clark, along with representatives from the business community including Mike Cherry, the national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses.
Mr Cherry said the new commissioner would need “a direct line to FTSE 100 bosses” in order to protect small firms.
“From day one, the commissioner needs the authority to tackle the most underhand supply chain bullying tactics,” he said, adding that the FSB had evidence of “widespread retrospective discounting of payments” by large firms, and last-minute querying of invoices to frustrate the process.
According to payment processor Bacs, nearly half of the UK’s small or medium sized businesses experience late payment from larger customers, with £26.3bn owed to them in total.
The new commissioner will also be expected to champion a “culture change” in how businesses work together and act as a spokesperson, the Government said on Sunday.
There are around 5.5 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, 2 million more than at the start of the century.
Small business minister Margot James said that “an unfair payment culture” hurts firms has “no place in an economy that works for all”.
Regulations coming into force in April will require big businesses to publicly report on the time taken to pay their suppliers.