Better late than never is of course a long established and well-known saying. However, in relation to businesses – and being paid for goods and services they have supplied, it holds less water.

Poor payment culture is still endemic in the UK – causing problems for all businesses but especially smaller ones, which have less capacity to absorb the related cash flow consequences. In fact, our research has shown that 37 per cent of small businesses have run into cash flow difficulties, 30 per cent have been forced to use an overdraft and 20 per cent say late payment has hit profits. At the extreme end, late payments and resulting cash flow difficulties have caused businesses to fail – with up to 50,000 business deaths in a year, as a direct consequence.

READ MORE: Victory for small businesses over late payments

Our recent Fair Pay, Fair Play campaign highlighted this issue and called on Government to: enlist the help of non-executive directors; strengthen payment enforcement; and to adopt Project Bank Accounts in public procurement. These three key reforms would go a long way to help end the poor payment crisis in the UK.

So, while more remains to be done, we have welcomed recent Government announcements about measures aimed at stemming the problem. These measures include proposed new powers for the Small Business Commissioner to tackle late payments through fines and binding payment plans, making company boards accountable for supply chain payment practices and a new fund to encourage businesses to use technology to simplify invoicing, payment and credit management.

Most recently, new prompt payment rules were introduced by the Government on Sunday, September 1. These will exclude big businesses with poor payment practices from being awarded lucrative, taxpayer-funded contracts. This crucial step sends a clear message that late payments will not be tolerated within government contracts.

This is a welcome announcement. It is another step that will help to make prompt payment the default commercial and moral approach, in favour of the alternative shoddy and unacceptable business practice.