Late payments to small firms hit record highs

Small and medium-sized businesses are owed £33.6 billion in late payments - a record high - according to Bacs.

The data shows that half of all SMEs are burdened by late payments from debtors, the biggest culprits being larger companies, accounting for 48 per cent of tardy payers.

Government and not-for-profit are the best payers according to the data, while retail and distribution sectors are being hit the hardest, with £16.6 billion outstanding.

The delays are causing unnecessary worry for the businesses affected that are relying on good cash flow to keep them going during this fragile economic period.

Commenting, Mike Hutchinson, head of marketing at Bacs said that the issue of late payments is continuing to get worse for SMEs in the UK at a time when they need to be able to plan ahead for growth and ensure a strong cash flow, but instead they are hanging on for payments which could have a serious impact on their business if they are continually late.

"As our research shows this issue not only hits the business but owners are reporting how it puts them under great stress personally, which has further negative repercussions.

"We urge SMEs to look at how many of the payments they are waiting for can be automated to help them assert more control over their cash flow, and hopefully alleviate some of that stress on the business and its owner."