A campaign backed by Wigan borough’s Labour MPs has been picked up by party leaders in the build up to next month’s local elections.
In the last six months Lisa Nandy, Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham have all highlighted the “scandal” of larger firms withholding payments to smaller companies.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has this week added his voice to the campaign to crack down on the unsavoury business tactics.
In what is thought to be a bid for support from local business owners in the lead up to May’s local elections, Mr Corbyn said: “Cash is king for any business and big companies are managing their cash by borrowing - interest free - from their suppliers.
“Some of the biggest names in business are holding cash piles that don’t actually belong to them.
“It’s a national scandal. And it’s stopping businesses from growing and causing thousands to go bust every year. It kills jobs and holds back economic growth.”
Mr Burnham has pledged to name and shame offending firms as part of his campaign to become Greater Manchester mayor.
One company boss, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Wigan Post bullying tactics by large firms withholding £200,000 had forced him to make 20 members of staff redundant.
Ms Nandy told the Wigan Post in January she had contacted business secretary Greg Clark and called for the Government to outline how they planned to prevent the practice in the future.
The Wigan MP said: “Small business owners work incredibly hard to build their companies and provide vital jobs for local people. Government must act to ensure there is a level playing field and prevent this kind of bullying.”
Responding to figures claiming the borough’s small businesses are owed upwards of £80m, Makerfield MP Ms Fovargue said: “What’s truly shocking is that an estimated 50,000 businesses fail each year because of these late payments.”
Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, Tory MP Amanda Milling said: “Despite what they’re saying, all Labour can offer small businesses is higher corporation tax, an increased deficit and more economic instability.”
There are no local elections in the borough this year but there are across the country.
• Other candidates for GM mayor are Sean Anstee (Con), Jane Brophy (Lib Dem), Will Patterson (Green), Shneur Odze (Ukip), Mohammed Aslam (Ind), Marcus Farmer (Ind) and Stephen Morris (English Democrats).