The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is to partner with leading law firm Ascent in order to provide a new dedicated debt recovery service for its members.

Ascent will offer the FSB’s 170,000 strong membership a range of debt recovery services aimed at helping them tackle the issue of late payments, including free solicitors, demand letters and discounted legal fees.

The service, which launches today, will be delivered through DebtGuard, Ascent’s innovative self-serve online service and will be fully integrated into the FSB’s member website. 

Mark Higgins, the Chairman of the Ascent, said: “Ascent is delighted to be partnering with the leading member organisation for small businesses. “We already act for thousands of SMEs across the UK, some of which are FSB members, and we know that late payments can threaten their survival. Together we want to give back businesses all the time they spend chasing a payment, allowing them to concentrate on the core activities.”

Dave Stallon, commercial director at FSB, says: “Late payment has been a huge and debilitating problem for smaller businesses for too long. Whilst we persist in asking the Government to tackle the worst payment practices, we’ve now introduced this new product to empower small businesses to recover their debts in the most simple and effective way possible so they can focus on running their businesses.”

A recent report into late payments by the FSB found that 37% of small businesses have run into difficulties and 30% have been forced to use an overdraft as a result. It found the impact of paying small companies on time would lead to a £2.5 billion boost to the UK economy with 50,000 more businesses staying open.