APHC: ‘Make your voice heard’ for purchase protection

John Thompson, chief executive of APHC

As part of its ongoing effort to ensure the conditions needed for small businesses to prosper, the government has recently announced its introduction of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. The bill, which includes new requirements obliging all large companies to report on their payment performance, is designed to support small and micro businesses, however, there have been calls for government to go even further by granting micro and small businesses protections similar to those which consumers will have when the Consumer Rights Bill is enacted and comes into force. These protections would apply when these firms purchase goods and services for the advancement of their commercial activities.

In her Ministerial Foreword to Call for Evidence: Protection of small businesses when purchasing goods and services, Parliamentary under-secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, Jo Swinson, said: “The government has heard how such a move may potentially benefit businesses, particularly sole traders and micro businesses, which are often in no better a position than a consumer when making purchases. However, the government is also aware that micro and small businesses are suppliers as well as customers such that transferring consumer rights to such an important, and varied, business sector may have unintended consequences. I believe we need to approach this carefully.”

As such, the government are asking for evidence of whether micro and/or small businesses are sufficiently protected by the current legislative framework for the sale and supply of goods and are attempting to establish whether a gap in the law exists in this area. Should such a gap be identified, the government would like evidence on whether there are potential impacts on the costs and benefits of applying certain consumer protections to micro and/or small businesses and what other options are available.

The government is interested in hearing from individual firms and their representatives, trade bodies, research and academic organisations as well as others with experience of analysis in this area. In order to gain an insight into concerns about the current framework as well as those about changing it, the government is interested in receiving as wide a set of views as possible. They also request that submissions are backed up with strong and clear evidence to support any views offered.

John Thompson, chief executive of APHC said: “We are glad that the government finally seems to be taking an interest in the need to increase the purchase protection of small businesses in the UK, which currently encounter far more difficulties in this area than their larger counterparts. As such, we are urging members of the plumbing and heating industry to make their voices heard by participating in this long-awaited investigation. We are hopeful that this call for evidence results in some constructive discussion which paves the way for future proposals in the area.”

Response forms can be downloaded at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/purchasing-goods-and-services-protection-of-small-businesses and once completed should be emailed to: sean.browne@bis.gsi.gov.uk or posted to:

Sean Browne
Competition and Consumer Policy Directorate
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
3rd Floor
Victoria Street

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