SMALL suppliers in Huddersfield have been urged to “name and shame” late paying customers.

The Forum of Private Business wants supplier firms to identify tardy payers through its Late Payment Hall of Shame.

Jane Bennett, head of campaigns for the FPB, said: “Many suppliers fear that speaking out individually will lead to unwelcome reprisals and cost them business, but via its Late Payment Hall of Shame, the forum provides a way for them to identify late payers yet still protect their identities.”

The call follows Government proposals to establish a “supermarket ombudsman” to protect suppliers.

The move was recommended by the Competition Commission in 2008 following an extensive inquiry into alleged abuses in the groceries market. However, the Forum fears that new body will lack real teeth.

Figures from payment body Bacs, show that more than £24bn in outstanding invoice payments is owed to small firms.

The Forum claimed there was a “climate of fear” about identifying large retailers who “routinely squeeze their suppliers”.

Ms Bennett said: “We are urging all small suppliers who have suffered to come forward and provide us with evidence that they have been squeezed, and we can absolutely guarantee their anonymity.

“Late payment destroys companies, yet it is often seen as normal practice by many big supermarkets and other companies.

“By standing together as a collective, we can give small businesses a powerful voice they would not otherwise have.”