Night of the Living Debt as 'Zombie Businesses' take over the UK!

Watch your backs people - there's a zombie revolution taking place, and the bloodthirsty brutes have got a taste for your money.

R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, says there are already 146,000 'zombie businesses' out there, including much of the retail sector, leaving Britain's high streets looking like something out of a horror movie, financially speaking.

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When late payment goes beyond the limits of amicable pursuit, and it becomes apparent that the funds will never be willingly forthcoming, the remaining option is to go to court, in order to force the debtor to pay.

Depending on how much you are owed, you may be able to do this in small claims court, or you might have to launch more formal legal proceedings, which are likely to prove more expensive.

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Gloomy news from the Forum of Private Business in recent weeks, as FTSE 100 companies are again being urged to abolish the late payments culture by settling their invoices on time, and banks are again being urged to lend more to cash-strapped small businesses.

In an ongoing climate of tight availability of finance in all its forms, and with outstanding invoices totaling tens of billions of pounds, it can be easy to wonder what's the point in chasing payments?

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A failure to follow the 'golden rules' of credit control is leaving many SMEs facing a significant burden of payment chasing this summer, says RBS Invoice Finance.

The bank's specialist team has compiled figures showing that small firms are currently receiving payments an average of 30 days beyond the agreed deadline.

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Many businesses that work with local authorities are facing a 'postcode lottery' to determine whether their accounts are settled on time, or whether they must deal with late payments from their council customers, says the Forum of Private Business.

The claim is significant because, back in 2008, the government called for councils to pay their suppliers' invoices in no more than ten days - a way to keep small businesses' cashflow healthy, as well as to ensure liquidity within the wider economy as a whole.

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Following on from the news that UK PLC's are sitting on a staggering £64 billion excess of capital the latest figures from Bacs Payment Schemes show overdue payments to UK SMEs are now at a record breaking all-time high of £35.3 billion.

The data was compiled at the end of 2011, and showed a £2 billion increase in late payments in the space of just six months.

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Late payments to creditors by UK PLC’s are being used to add to the working capital companies have at their disposal, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The professional services provider has analysed the working capital performance of 20,800 companies with global operations over the past five years, enabling it to compile a £64 billion estimate of excess working capital in the UK - a rise of £3 billion since 2010.

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A headline-grabbing report from the Forum of Private Business and Graydon reveals that formal credit control processes are in place at fewer than half of the UK's small businesses.

The survey looked at 500 companies across the UK, and just 44% said they had formal credit control procedures to fall back on if they are not paid promptly by debtors.  However, many others admitted to making use of a spur-of-the-moment approach to payments, with 16% juggling payments as they go along and 38% mixing formal credit control processes with informal payment-chasing.

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Ireland has announced the wording of its Code of Conduct on Prompt Payments, a voluntary charter similar to that in place in the UK.

Small business minister John Perry announced the Code on July 1st; it is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Late payments are a pain for all of us, clapping the irons on our cashflow, disrupting client relationships and generally causing a world of stress until they're resolved either directly or through the intervention of a debt collections specialist like Safe Collections.

But on an international scale, late payments cause even bigger headaches for economies across the EU, leading to an annual debt of €23.6 billion (£19 billion) according to European Commission figures.