Ministry of Late Payments

THE UK Government now has a Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, whose brief is late payments. Paul was appointed to this new post in January, following the latest Cabinet reshuffle: he reports to the Minister for Small Businesses, Andrew Griffith MP.

Via the Office of the Small Business Commissioner's website, small businesses and sole traders (that'd include us freelances) can raise complaints about late payment.

But you can only do so if you haven't already started legal action to recover the money. Also, the Commissioner's Office will only handle complaints against "big" businesses with more than 50 employees. Good luck ringing up the delinquent client to establish how many employees they have! Given the already nebulous business structures that exist in some media conglomerates and their subsidiaries, the Freelance wonders whether accountants are already advising corporate restructurings that will result in companies or "business units" with exactly 49 employees.

Should you decide to make use of the Office of the Small Businesses Commissioner, let us know how you get on. As ever, NUJ members are advised to contact the Freelance Office first about any late payment issues.

See here for advice on the Late Payment of Debts Act, how to chase late payments and how to use the Small Claims Court to prise money from debtors. Or go straight to our late payments interest calculator or, if you're an NUJ member, to our Collect-o-Matic service.

See also examples of NUJ freelances getting big money through the Small Claims Court's intellectual property track for copyright infringements here.