Deloitte initiative seeks most innovative social firms

20 March 2015 Consultancy.uk

Deloitte recently launched a search for the most innovative social businesses in the UK for its 'Super Pioneers' programme, aimed at supporting them with plans to increase employability and job opportunities in the UK, Middle East and Africa. Super Pioneers is part of the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers initiative.

Social Innovation Pioneers
The Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers programme has been established by Deloitte in 2012 with the aim of supporting socially innovative businesses in the UK to overcome business challenges enabling them to “grow to scale and become investment-ready.” Every year the consulting firm selects businesses, the so-called Pioneers, it will support, offering them access to a broad range of services within Deloitte. This includes support in the form of a relationship team, knowledge sharing, pro bono advice, access to clients & networking opportunities, assistance with implementation of supply chain and procurement opportunities, and PR & promotion.

Since its start three years ago, Deloitte has invested £2.5 million into the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers through 10,000 hours of pro bono and volunteering. The average growth in turnover among the Pioneers was 45% in the first year and 38% in the second year and a total of 160 jobs have been created in the two years.

Deloitte Super Pioneers Programme

Super Pioneers
This year the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers is launching a new initiative, titled the ‘Super Pioneers’. This four year-long programme will support social businesses that improve employability skills and employment opportunities in the UK, Middle East and Africa and have ambitious plans to grow their business and scale their social impact over the next 12-18 months.

Deloitte recently opened its search to find 10-12 Super Pioneers for its programme and has pledged to invest more than £1 million worth of employees’ time and skills in the social innovative businesses that are selected.

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Late payment culture cripples productivity of SMEs

29 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

UK SMEs are seeing their efforts to grow stifled by late payments, causing thousands to enter insolvency proceedings each year. According to experts from Duff & Phelps, this also has a major impact on the UK’s economy, meaning late payment culture must be tackled if the country is to dodge yet more economic stagnation in the shadow of Brexit.

Small and mid-sized enterprises in the UK face a myriad of pressures at present. Brexit anxieties are keenly felt by SMEs, with more than nine in 10 suggesting recently that economic conditions have worsened in the last 12 months. 66% of SME leaders also expect conditions to further worsen in the coming year.

At the same time, firms are keen to see value for money from investing in external expertise. Consulting fees which weight much more heavily on smaller firms, who spend £60 billion per year on professional services, but feel that more than £12 billion of that figure is wasted on unnecessary or bad advice.

Late payment culture cripples productivity of SMEs

Above all, however, SMEs are extremely vulnerable to late payments, and, according to a new study, the situation is only getting worse at present. According to corporate rescue consultancy Duff & Phelps, small businesses in the UK are facing a collective bill of £6.7 billion per annum due to late payments by other companies, while the average value of each late payment now stands at £6,142. This has risen from £2.6 billion in 2017, illustrating the plight of SMEs, particularly with uncertain economic times ahead.

Indeed, the spike in late payments has already caused significant productivity issues for SMEs, which in turn compromises their financial stability. With staff wasting hours chasing down late payments and businesses becoming preoccupied with short-term cash flow problems, they are less able to concentrate on creating new value for the firm, which in many cases gradually slides toward insolvency.

Small businesses across the UK are facing major cash flow pressure, leading to increased financial instability as a direct result of a late payments culture. This is likely a big driver of the UK’s 20% boom in insolvencies over the last three years, especially as it has a knock-on effect on other SMEs within the supply chain of those struggling firms. Approximately 50,000 small businesses fail each year because of late payments, amounting to a shortfall of more than £2.5 billion for the UK economy. 

Commenting on the findings, Paul Williams, Managing Director, Duff & Phelps, said, “In this modern era of technology, which is designed to enable business agility, late payments are particularly galling as there are no excuses. The day of the ‘cheque is in the post’ is long over!... More can be done to avoid businesses reaching this situation in the first place. SMEs underpin the economy, so prioritising timely payments will help allow business owners to focus their time and energy on providing good quality products and services and adding value to the customer experience, rather than chasing outstanding payments.”

The UK Government currently promotes its voluntary Prompt Payment Code to encourage good practice, but late payments by larger companies remain a common pain point for many SMEs. There may be hope for an end to late payments, however, following an announcement in the Spring Statement from Chancellor Philip Hammond. The Government aims to crack down on the practice, with Hammond stating big companies should hire a Non-Executive Director to be responsible for reducing late payments to small suppliers. The statement also advises that organizations publish payment practices in their annual reports.