A NATIONAL award has been presented toOldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams for her late payment campaign Be Fair – Pay on Time.
Mrs Abrahams received the special Gold Award at the construction industry’s H&V News Awards,hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull and attended by 1,300 people at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
She said: “My campaign started when a Saddleworth constituent told me how a household-name company was driving his business to the wall by consistently paying him late.
“After a little research it was obvious the issue wasn’t just a local one and it was costing small and medium enterprises £36bn a year across the UK. Shockingly that has risen to £41bn.
“That’s why I decided to launch Be Fair – Pay on Time but our first problem was we couldn’t find a local business who’d talk openly for fear of upsetting their larger clients.
“Only Ann and Harry, of Harry Long Ltd, a small Oldham-based plumbing business, felt able to waive anonymity and I owe them my thanks for having the courage to step forward.
“I believe it’s time we viewed paying late, finding ways to pay late, or changing the pre-agreed payment terms of supply chain businesses to be as unethical as tax evasion.”
Debbie went on to say that late payments was a ‘leadership issue’ with the ‘payment culture’ of a company set by owners, CEOs and executive board members.
She added: “I’m honoured to accept this wonderful H&V Gold Award and I’d like to thank the judges and the sponsors, B&ES, for choosing me.
“In accepting the award I do so on behalf of many other individuals and organisations who have backed my campaign over the last four years.”
Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group and a supporter of the Be Fair – Pay on Time campaign, nominated Mrs Abrahams for the award.
He said: “Debbie thoroughly deserves this award since she is a lone campaigner helping small businesses faced with payment abuse by large companies.
“The problem is greater in construction than in many other sectors. This award shows that the construction industry fully appreciates the work she has done.”
Ann Long added: “I’m really delighted for Debbie as she thoroughly deserves this award after all the hard work she’s put into her campaign to protect small business owners in Oldham, Saddleworth, and beyond.
“We need politicians like Debbie who are prepared to take on these large companies and tell them it’s not right to treat smaller companies as disposable.
“It’s astonishing what small companies have to put up with. Late payments are immoral, it’s as simple as that!”
Jim Marner,president-elect of the Building and Engineering Serviceswho sponsor the Gold Award, presented the award to Mrs Abrahams.
He said: “In the 20 years during which the B&ES has been sponsoring the Gold Award, there has never been a more worthy winner than Debbie Abrahams.
“The recommendations of Debbie’s all-party inquiry into late payments are exactly what the industry needs and Ms Abrahams deserves our deep gratitude for her enlightened initiative.”