An open VAT register could help you make better credit decisions

Making the HMRC VAT Register public would help SME’s, Banks, Insurance firms, Telcos and many other businesses make more informed credit decisions.

When you get a moment, take a look at this link. It’s a proposal from the Open Data User Group to make available a range of data from the Vat Register, which will enhance company datasets and  could play a crucial role in the business decisions you make when assessing new suppliers or taking on new customers.

An open VAT register will allow Credit Reference Agencies like Experian to have an even better view of those small (more often non-limited) businesses that sometimes fall under the radar because there is not enough information available on them. This will in turn give other businesses and lenders greater visibility of the risk associated with these businesses and enable them to make credit decisions with more confidence.

The long term impact will be positive, supporting the Government in its aims to stimulate economic growth, whilst aiding the banks to hit their lending targets.  It will also help  improve trade credit between businesses, as there would be an increase in credit offered to SME businesses that fall within the VAT Register. Without the release of this data, many SMEs will continue to fall under the radar and may find themselves restricted by the level of credit available to them. 

Here are the key points of the proposal:

● BIPA, the Business Information Providers Association, estimates that trade credit in the UK is worth £500 billion – a whopping 30 per cent of our GDP.

● Making the VAT Register public would result in an estimated further £50 billion of trade credit, thanks to the better visibility companies will have when making credit risk assessments.

● Boost growth – more data = more business credit = increased business funding for thousands more businesses. Better for companies, better for the economy.

● Provide data about thousands of unincorporated businesses – thought to be 750,000 in the UK – that struggle to secure trade credit simply because of the scarcity of data about them.

As you will know, when making credit decisions you need to be furnished with as much business information as possible – to help you make informed decisions, savvy risk assessments and sound judgments over whom to extend credit to.

It all makes lots of sense, and, here at Experian, we’re keen to see this approved, within the current legislative framework.

Let us know what you think. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on this and look forward to seeing it develop