UK Labour leader slams big business for delaying payment to suppliers

11 Apr 2017


A future Labour government would ''declare war'' on the scandal of late payments to the UK's small businesses by some of the country's largest and well-known firms, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would pledge today.

He would point to analysis of bank transfer figures, which, he would argue, showed that big businesses were withholding over £26 billion from suppliers, forcing 50,000 of them out of business every year.

Speaking at an event organised by the Federation of Small Businesses [FSB] in London, Corbyn would say: ''Cash is king for any business and big companies are managing their cash by borrowing - interest free - from their suppliers.

''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.''

The Labour leader would name and seek to shame large firms, citing credit agency reports that had alleged that E.On, Capita, BT Group, Vodafone, National Grid and Marks and Spencer were among the worst offenders when it came to late payment.

The party pointed to findings based on data from Bacs Payment Schemes Limited, which was involved in the clearing and settlement of UK automated payments.

The Labour party had produced figures suggesting small firms in Yorkshire write off over £400 million in bad debts every year.

Corbyn offered businesses a ''new deal'', last year and asked companies to pay more tax to fund a National Education Service.

But he would today pledge not to increase corporation tax for the smallest firms.

Corbyn would also defend Labour against Theresa May's repeated suggestion that he had an irresponsible attitude to public spending, insisting that there was a ''world of difference'' between borrowing to invest and borrowing to meet day to day costs.

He will say: ''The risk of bankruptcy comes not when you borrow to invest in projects that will deliver growth but when you give tax breaks to big companies and the wealthy when you don't have enough money to run public services.''

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