A Greater Manchester MP who champions small businesses received the first ever national Grassroot Diplomat Business Driver award in a Westminster ceremony last night.
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams launched the ‘Be Fair – Pay on Time’ campaign in July 2012 challenging the top 100 FTSE companies to pay bills on time to help keep smaller companies afloat.
Receiving the accolade, Mrs Abrahams praised her constituents’ help in revealing and fighting the problems small and medium-sized businesses face.
“It’s such an honour to have been awarded the Grassroot Diplomat Business Driver award,” said Mrs Abrahams.
“I have to thank my partner organisations the Institute of Credit Management, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Forum of Private Business for their support.
“But special mention should go to my constituents Ann and Harry Long, and their daughter Janine, who were the only business people who felt able to waive anonymity to help us illustrate the devastating impact late payments can have on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“If you imagine how many thousands of SMEs are affected by late payment, the fact that only the Longs were able to ‘go public’ makes you realise the level of fear and control there is around this issue.”
The campaign asks companies to sign the Prompt Payment Code and reduce late payments, with 25 agreeing so far as a result of the ‘Be Fair – Pay on Time’ campaign.
Vodafone, Burberry and Royal Dutch Shell are among those who have signed up, bringing the total to 50, as Mrs Abrahams continues to push for all the top 100 to sign.
“’Be Fair – Pay on Time’ isn’t about demonising big businesses,” she added.
“It is about trying to create a level playing field in the business world where SMEs right along the supply chain, get treated fairly, are paid on time for the work they do and don’t have their payment terms changed once they are agreed.”
The Business Driver award recognises people in public office who have ‘actively participated in supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and young people as one of the measures to recover from the economic downturn’.
Social Driver and Policy Driver awards were also presented to celebrate the first year anniversary of consultancy group Grassroot Diplomat.
More than 50 high-level government officials were nominated across the three categories, with the honours presented to six outstanding diplomats and politicians.