Late Payment of Debts Stifle SMEs

It has recently been reported – following a poll of 1,000 business – that almost 23% of the UK’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) had suffered a potential financial crisis due to late payment of debts, which put them at risk of closure. The data suggested that the average SME was owed around £40,000 in unpaid invoices, with nearly £21,000 of the total being overdue. The technology industry appeared to be hit the hardest, where almost one-third of businesses in this sector had had their finances seriously affected by customer late payments. To underline the scale of the problem, the Federation of Small Businesses has stated that late payment will be one of the top 10 issues faced by small firms in the next five years.

A quarter of those surveyed indicated that most of the late payments were caused by large businesses, and late-paying companies have been criticised for potentially stunting the growth of the UK’s small businesses and putting them at risk of insolvency. There are, of course, many reasons for delayed payments; but a common complaint is that customers often wait until the invoice is finally due before raising queries with the supplier, which creates frustrating delays. To help combat such problems, the recently introduced Enterprise Bill saw the creation of a Small Business Commissioner that will, it is hoped, address the issue of small firms settling disputes with larger companies over late payment.

If your SME is suffering as result of the late payment of debts then a confidential discussion – at an early stage – with an experienced and qualified specialist to talk through the range of options available may well be an appropriate course of action. Please contact us if you would like an initial consultation, free of charge.