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Thousands of businesses in Sefton face an uncertain Christmas just because their larger customers ar

Thousands of businesses in Sefton face an uncertain Christmas just because their larger customers are paying late, according to Labour MP, Bill Esterson.

Sefton Central Labour MP has released research which shows thousands of locally-owned businesses in Sefton are owed a shocking estimated £77 million in late payments from bigger clients.

Figures obtained by Bill Esterson MP from BACS Payment Schemes Ltd have laid bare the extent of late payments to small and medium-sized businesses across Britain, which now stands at £26.3 billion. For the first time, the sheer scale of the £77 million unpaid bill in Sefton has been laid bare by local Mr Esterson.

Bill Esterson MP, who is also Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, said:

“These late payments are invoices for money our small businesses are owed by bigger clients. It’s money that is rightfully theirs for work they have done, but which goes unpaid for months on end. Right here in Sefton, over the last 12 months alone, our local businesses ended up writing off an estimated £19 million that was simply never paid to them by these bigger clients. What’s truly shocking is that more than 150 locally-owned businesses actually go under each year because larger clients just don’t pay them what they owe.

“These are our small businesses, our local entrepreneurs; the lifeblood of our local economy, and we have to stop them being treated this way. With a £77 million hole in our local economy, it’s time for the Conservative government to step in and make these big clients pay our local business men and women”.

47% of all small and medium-sized businesses experience late payments by larger clients, with large private firms singled out as the worst culprits. A quarter of those affected reported that they routinely face delays of more than 60 days beyond agreed payment terms – meaning they struggle to pay their own suppliers, their staff, and their bills.

Bill Esterson MP said:

“The stakes are incredibly high: tackling the scourge of late payment means preventing 50,000 business deaths in the UK each year. Labour has pressed the Conservative Government repeatedly to do more, but it has shied away from every opportunity. Voluntary codes and gentle reminders haven’t worked: we must see swift action to save our small businesses and to protect the jobs and communities of this country.

“I have spoken to a number of businesses in Maghull where I live, in Formby and in Crosby who have told me horror stories about invoices being lost, of invoices being questioned weeks after a larger customer has received them and of promised payments being delayed. This is about a lot more than, ‘the cheque’s in the post’. For 150 businesses in the borough of Sefton alone, this is about a lost livelihood, jobs going and families going without. Late payment is something that could be stopped and the Conservative government has failed businesses in Sefton by not intervening to create meaningful penalties for larger firms who delay paying their smaller suppliers. A successful economy depends on a balanced relationship between large businesses and smaller ones. Making sure that companies pay on time is one very practical way of helping the economy and looking after jobs and that is why Labour will continue to press for action on this important area for local businesses.”

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