Norman Arnold of the Isle of Wight Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Picture by Peter Boam.
BUSINESSES could be left counting the cost of an Isle of Wight Council plan to cut staff, the Federation of Small Businesses has warned.
The organisation, which represents more than 900 companies on the Island, said it feared a council plan to save £40,000 a year by cutting staff responsible for processing invoices posed a potential risk to the local economy.
Norman Arnold, FSB Isle of Wight vice chairman, said: "Everyone knows that the council is facing severe financial challenges but they are not alone.
"There are businesses on the Island who are also experiencing tough times and it is essential to their survival that they are able to be paid promptly. There will be many businesses across the Island who will be very concerned at this proposal unless it can be clearly shown that the planned cuts will not affect the length of time it will take the council to pay its bills to local companies."
The proposal is due to be discussed by the Isle of Wight Council when it meets next Wednesday to set a budget for 2016/17.
A report due to be presented at the meeting acknowledges the move could reduce performance levels and reveals the risk it could leave the authority open for compensation claims for non-payment within 30 days.
Currently 98 per cent of invoices are paid within that time, the FSB said.
"We would seek this assurance from the Isle of Wight Council alongside a stated commitment to ensuring that local companies are prioritised when it comes to paying invoices.
"We do not want to criticise the council as we know they are being forced to take some tough decisions.
"However, this move will be viewed with great trepidation by many local businesses and we must be sure that the authority has fully considered all the implications of this proposed step," said Mr Arnold.