The tax man will fine you 5% of your bill if you miss the 30 day deadline.
And parking fines leap a whopping 50% if you ignore the first reminder by more than 28 days.
But the authorities don’t seem so keen to wield the big stick in the private sector when it comes to tackling the menace of late payment.
Ministers talk a good game.
But when it comes down to it construction late payment is governed by promises and pledges – all of which are broken on a depressingly regular basis.
David Cameron has now launched yet another consultation on the issue which will consider “whether there is a case for further legislation or penalties.”
Most subcontractors know there is a case – thanks to bloody great holes in their bank accounts.
Payment terms in construction have been a blight on the industry for years.
Ministers know this and they know it is sending good companies to the wall.
We don’t need another review and empty promises.
Construction just needs simple payment rules that firms must stick to or face a fine.
Payment within 30 days must become the industry standard -it’s a farce that in the age of BACS transfers bills are allowed to take so long.
Companies who hold onto their suppliers’ cash should also be fined – the tax man’s 5% seems a reasonable deterrent.
Serial late payers should also be named and shamed and removed from public tender lists.
It’s not a difficult problem to solve.
It just needs the political will to act rather than just waffle.
If David Cameron and co really are the party of enterprise and entrepreneurship then now is the time for action.