Late payers crackdown lauded

Design’s trade bodies have welcomed Prime Minister John Major’s promise to “embarrass” larger companies into paying their bills on time.

Major will consult industry on tactics ranging from “whitelists” and “blacklists” to firms being forced to publish their performance on bills as well as their payment policies.

The Government, a prime culprit, will not be exempt, and Whitehall departments will in future publish a league table of their punctuality. But Major has stopped short of responding to demands to legalise mandatory interest on overdue debts.

Ian Rowland-Hill, chief executive at the Design Business Association, says the move is “undeniably a good thing”. Chartered Society of Designers director Brian Lymbery agrees, saying design consultancies will benefit.

The move came this week as part of a package to help small businesses, with measures aimed at breaking through red tape.

But Major’s announcement comes amid a furore over Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine’s proposed plans to prevent small-business employees claiming damages for unfair dismissal.

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