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High cost of late payment uncovered

Monday 4th July 2011
Almost three-quarters of businesses have been paid late in the last 12 months, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

And for the majority (77%), it is by other businesses.

Small firms do not have the same cash-flow buffers as larger businesses and so being paid late causes a vicious circle, meaning that 38% of members that are paid late say they then pay their suppliers late.

The survey showed that 43% of members are currently waiting for between £1 and £4999.

And in the past 12 months, 56% of members have written-off invoices worth between £1 and £9999 because of non-payment and 6% of members in the construction sector have written off £35,000 or more.

The Government's commitment to pay all invoices to small firms within 10 days has improved payment times.

However, the latest "Voice of Small Busines"' panel survey has shown that 18% of respondents are still being paid late by the public sector.

The FSB is calling on the Government to ensure that all public agencies follow the lead of central Government and pay all invoices to small firms within 10 days; that all contractors that the public sector uses pay their sub-contractors within the same time; and that all private sector companies used by the public sector sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

With 53% of small business owners saying that they spend between one and six hours per week chasing late payments, firms can take control by:
* Making sure there is a contract in place which confirms payment times and then penalties if payment is late - such as interest charges;
* Offering a discount for prompt payment, dependent on the relationship with the purchaser;
* Asking for payment up-front, or a deposit before work begins;
Talking to the purchaser before shipment to make sure that all sides know payment terms.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "There are always going to be companies that pay late, but there are steps that businesses can put in place to make sure that they don't fall foul of the issue.  We are pleased that the Government has stepped-up to the Prompt Payment Code - but there is more work to be done.

"In the current economic climate, every penny counts and for small businesses a late invoice can mean not being able to pay their staff. We need to see all businesses ensuring that they make payments on time if the private sector is to get on with the job in hand of strengthening the recovery."

Have your say on this story using the comment section below

Mike Jones

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Added by jamie moodie on 2011-07-04 23:14:11

I too suffered with being financially bullied by all manner of big companies UNTIL I discovered a super service in The Credit Protection Association, they get us SME@s and other businesses paid on time. The recovered 90% of my outstanding debt within 20 days of the engagement and now am able to monitor who I deal with and the terms with which I engage companies. Amazingly I haven't lost a single customer!! Go get them its so simple and effective. My contact there is Alison Oxlade office 02088460000 Amazing!
Added by margaret white on 2011-07-04 16:02:36

Late payments have almost put me out of business - and I seem to be keeping Barclays Bank afloat with the fine for overstepping my overdraft limit every month. It is not JUST
Government that keeps their contractors waiting, it is solicitors, accountants and large commercial businesses. They all expect immediate service from me - but are unprepared to meet my terms of business.

Small businesses are at a massive disadvantage with regard to payment - they do not have the clout or the where-with-all to fight their corner.
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Editorial Contact Details - Conor Shilling
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