A businesswoman affected by late payments wants North East firms to lead the way in showing a better way to do business.
Angela Carrington runs a commercial photography firm, The Bigger Picture Agency Ltd, which consists of only herself, one part-time member of staff and four or five freelances she works with on an ad-hoc basis.
Hence, there is little room at the Newcastle-based business for unpredictability when it comes to income.
“Unfortunately, you can be almost forced into being a late payer yourself,” she said. “If you don’t get paid, cash flow suffers and it can put you in very difficult situation.
“I’ve heard every excuse in the book - businesses claiming they haven’t received an invoice or that the cheque is in the post, although that’s being phased out as most now pay by Bacs.
“It can be very stressful and I don’t think it’s something you get used to.”
Angela’s specialist services are called upon by everyone from one-man-bands to huge plcs.
Contrary to popular opinion, she believes the larger firms have generally “sorted themselves out”.
To deal with those that haven’t, however, she no longer offers credit terms as a matter of course.
Now, she would like to see action taken on a wider scale so North East businesses know where they stand from the start when it comes to getting paid for work.
“I feel there’s something we can do about this, which is why I raised it with the North East Institute of Business Ethics from the start,” she said.
“There’s scope for a scheme for SMEs in the region through which you could agree to respect each other’s payment terms. That creates a context as you could say you’re part of the scheme and as such these are your credit terms.
“Otherwise, the money conversation can be a really hard one to have.”
While the problem has been around for years, there was now an appetite for change, she added - although the voluntary, rather than compulsory, route would be more effective in the long-term.
“It would be nice to see an opt-in scheme, starting with a local version that could then be rolled out,” Angela said. “Why not let the North East lead the way on this?
“Ultimately, I think it’s good for business; if there was a choice between dealing with two companies - one that was in the scheme and one that wasn’t - you would choose the first one if you were looking for a supplier.”
Through the Pay Fair campaign, The Journal is calling on regional firms to adopt a fair and ethical approach towards their supply chains while promoting a culture of responsible business.
We are asking companies to join up to the North East Institute of Business Ethics (NIBE) and sign its Business Ethics Pledge, thereby agreeing to join with others to discuss the value of business ethics and work with each other to transform their working environments for the better.
To support the campaign and sign the pledge, visit http://www.nibe.org.uk/