This has been a promising week for small business owners with the introduction of two new schemes to help SMEs. While there are proposals of a Smart Metering Scheme to reduce costs for SMEs, the government is also introducing a Prompt Payment Scheme which could improve cash flow.
The Smart Metering Scheme should be a fairer method of measuring businesses’ energy usages, and will help SMEs to operate to the best possible standards. Gareth Elliott, Senior Policy Adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said of the proposed scheme
“We welcome the government’s proposals to extend smart metering to SMEs. For far too long businesses have faced an unequal relationship with their suppliers based on confusing and complicated pricing structures and contract terms. Smart meters will go a long way to empower businesses to take control of their energy usage and assist them in becoming more energy efficient. They will also offer a level of transparency that up to now has simply not been available. Alongside Ofgem’s Energy Supply Probe recommendations, this announcement will help shift the balance of power back to small business consumers.”
The Prompt Payment Scheme comes from a new culture of non payments among companies and supplier companies during the economic downturn. There are very few businesses which have remained unaffected by the recession, and non-payment for services means severe cash flow issues for small businesses. The Prompt Payment Scheme, which the government is urging businesses to sign up to, will ensure that all bills are paid within the timeframe specified in contracts. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said
"Government has taken the lead with nine out of ten central Government invoices now being paid within ten days - the challenge is now for business to step up and play fair. The promise by FTSE companies to pay on time is very welcome and will hopefully bring an end to the devastating impact which late payments can have on small business".
Companies which have agreed to sign up include Barclays plc., Motorola UK Ltd., Sony UK, British Airways plc., B&Q and Research and Motion (BlackBerry). To find out more visit the Prompt Payment Code website
These are both promising moves from the government and hopefully the help for the SME owner will continue.