A cross-party group of MPs met at Parliament on Tuesday 20 January to discuss payment practices in the UK supply chain. The meeting followed a number of recent news stories which have criticised the behaviour of certain major retailers and FMCG producers, and reflects increasing political focus on supply terms in the UK consumer sector. This focus mirros ongoing consideration of the food supply chain by the European Commission.

The meeting was convened by the Federation of Small Businesses ("FSB"), chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP, and attended by Anne Marie Morris MP (Chair of the Small Business All Party Parliamentary Group) and Tessa Munt MP (Parliamentary Private Sectary to Vince Cable), amongst others.

The FSB's agenda included discussion of:

  • "pay to stay" terms, also known as "supplier assessment charges" or "supplier investment payments";
  • long payment terms;
  • the consequences of late payment;
  • discounts for early payment; and
  • retrospective discounting.

Some of these issues have been considered by competition authorities in the UK and Europe, and it remains to be seen whether the debate will result in a legislative proposal in the near term, with a general election fast approaching in the UK.