Small Business Commissioner: policy for secondary legislation

Closed 7 Dec 2016

Opened 13 Oct 2016

Overview

 

The Small Business Commissioner was established by the Enterprise Act 2016 (the Act). The Commissioner’s role is to support small businesses to resolve payment disputes and avoid future issues by encouraging a culture change in how businesses deal with each other.

The Commissioner’s main functions will be:

  • To publish and provide general advice and information to small businesses, for example, related to dispute resolution and contract principles, including options for resolving disputes;
  • To direct small businesses to appropriate services, such as relevant sector ombudsmen or regulators, existing independent advice services, or, for business-to-business disputes, to approved alternative dispute resolution providers;
  • To provide an in-house complaints handling function, in respect of payment issues between a small business supplier and a larger business.

Why We Are Consulting

The Act says that further detail of the Commissioner’s complaint handling functions will be set out in Regulations. Taken together, the Regulations and the Act will provide the parameters within which the Commissioner’s complaints scheme will operate.  This will ensure there is transparency around key processes for businesses – both small businesses which will use the Commissioner’s services and larger businesses which may be the subject of a complaint.  In this consultation we are seeking views on key areas which will underpin how the complaints scheme will operate. 

The Regulations will also include some detail of the definition of a small business for the purposes of the Commissioner’s services.  The Commissioner’s services (both advice and information, and complaints handling) will be available to businesses with 0-49 staff.  The Regulations will set out the detail of how the staff headcount should be calculated, and this consultation also seeks views on this.       

We recognise that small businesses may not have the time and resources to provide answers to all the consultation questions.  Therefore, we would ask small businesses to particularly focus on providing answers to the priority questions for small business. These questions cover: (Q.25) - the definition of businesses eligible for the service, (Q.26 to Q.28) - how the Commissioners complaints and (Q.29) - how the Commissioner decides to name respondents to complaints.

What Happens Next

The consultation will close on 7th December 2016 at 23:59

The Government will publish its responses to the consultation as soon as possible and within 12 weeks of the consultation closing, setting out the decisions made in light of the consultation, a summary of the views expressed and reasons for the decision taken.

Audiences

  • SMEs (small and medium businesses)
  • Large businesses (over 250 staff)
  • Trade bodies
  • Legal representative
  • Medium business (50 to 250 staff)
  • Micro business (up to 9 staff)
  • Small business (10 to 49 staff)

Interests

  • Economic growth