SIR; There is a growing trend for large retailers to pass the cost of difficult trading periods or expansion on to their suppliers. There is no protection for companies who live in fear of large customers taking away their trade should they refuse to comply.

The FPB is currently representing suppliers in disputes over payment terms. It is unacceptable that these unfair practices go unchecked; they are abuses of buying power.

The FPB is calling on the government to do more to help small firms understand their rights on late payment. Under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act, firms are entitled to a Statutory Right to Interest (SRI) at 8% above the base rate for late payment of commercial debt. However, under current legislation, applying SRI is optional, something that the FPB would like reviewed.

This would remove the fear of small firms imposing interest on late payers. While we recognise some are slow to pay, often it is because they are passing delays in cash flow on to their suppliers.

The FPB is calling for more power to the Better Payment Practice Group (BPPG) - a cooperative forum of representatives of the business community, banks and payment systems professionals. It was established to improve payment culture among organisations trading in the UK. The BPPG should be an excellent vehicle for change but lacks influence. It has been left in limbo after the responsibility for administering it was reviewed by the Department of Trade and Industry without consulting the members. As a result, the BPPG's future remains uncertain and its role has been undermined.