In 2004 a letter was written to MEP Liz Lynne about the problem of late payment facing the self-employed and small businesses, which is always stressful and sometimes leads to bankruptcy.

The letter cited a Dutch precedent: in that country’s engineering industry 30% of the full amount due is paid immediately, and then 30% is paid on completion of the job. The final amount is deemed to be the profit and follows later within a stipulated time frame. This helps to avoid the cash-flow problems afflicting those in this country who often have to wait for three months before any payment is made.

It did not get a cheering answer, she merely repeated that Dutch practice was due to an industry agreement, not legislation.

Quite: but we need a just system that works: self regulation and current legislation has seriously failed the country’s SMEs.

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