Credit Control

Thursday, 25 November 2021 13:54

Let Your Voice Be Heard on Late Payments

Fed up of clients who refuse to stick to agreed payment terms? Feel like you're being held to ransom by large customers who insist on making suppliers wait two or three months before they pay for goods or services received?

The government’s Small Business Commissioner (SBC) wants to hear from you. The Commissioner’s office, which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is holding a consultation on SME’s experiences of late payments that closes on 15th December.

As the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep through the economy, latest figures show that SMEs have been hit by a 20% surge in late payments over the past 12 months.

According to research from cloud-based credit management platform Know-It, the total value of overdue invoices UK-based small businesses are now waiting on has leapt to £61 billion, a sharp rise from the no less eye watering figure of £50bn reported in 2020.

In our last blog, we highlighted some of the dangers businesses face from fraudulent operators posing as legit companies, but whose real intention is just to rip you off.

So what can you do to avoid these risks? The answer is all about due diligence and knowing exactly who you are dealing with before you make a payment or sign a contract. Nowadays, formal ‘Know Your Customer’ or KYC background check services are available as byproducts of strict anti-fraud regulations in the financial industry.

But as useful as such services are, there are simple things every business can do directly for themselves to check out the credentials of any potential new client or supplier. Here are three simple steps to take to avoid being ripped off.

With incidents of fraud on the rise over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all having to be even more vigilant in our dealings, especially online.

But while the risks of phishing scams and lax digital security are well known, companies are still very much at risk from a more traditional approach to con artistry - doing business with cowboy operators whose primary aim is to rip you off.

It’s a sad but well-documented fact that the most unscrupulous individuals will happily try to exploit any crisis for their own gain.

So it was in spring 2020, almost as soon as the first COVID-19 lockdown kicked into gear, that there was a wave of reports of pandemic-related email and phone scams, trying on everything from fraudulent PPE sales to ‘phishing’ for personal information through bogus medical registrations. 

At Safe Collections, we’ve been banging the drum on the UK’s late payment culture for years, making the case over and over again that without the stick of meaningful enforcement, there is little incentive for large companies to stop holding smaller suppliers over a barrel when it comes to payments.

Finally, it seems like the message may have gotten through to the government, although on account of the time it has taken, we can only conclude they are listening reluctantly.

You couldn’t accuse the UK government of wishing a second national lockdown. In fact, according to critics, the Johnson-led administration is guilty of trying to fend off the inevitable for too long, failing to take the decisive action that just might have nipped the ‘second wave’ in the bud back in September when it was clear cases were rising again.

The government’s reasoning is no secret. It wanted to do everything it possibly could to keep the already battered economy open, fearing the long-term consequences of another significant shut down in trade and commerce.

And yet here we are. After it became clear last week that the regional approach to COVID-19 restrictions wasn’t going to be enough, that transmission had galloped past the worst-case working assumptions, and that the NHS was already close to being overwhelmed in some areas, No 10 felt it had no other choice. Another U-turn, another lockdown, another month (we hope) of all but essential customer-facing businesses being shut.

Thursday, 29 October 2020 10:55

Handling Late Payments in a Pandemic

It is not likely to be news to any business owner that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen late payments soar.

The fallout from the crisis has seen revenues across the economy plummet, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting a 20.4% slump in GDP in Q2 of this year while the country was in full lockdown.

Creative agencies and freelancers are being stung by an average 27-day wait for settlement of overdue invoices, according to a new report.

The findings come from a survey of over 5000 invoices issued by organisations such as IT developers, digital marketing consultancies, design specialists, film, TV and photography contractors and more. The study, carried out by business lender MarketFinance, found that clients were routinely paying service providers and suppliers late despite already insisting on lengthy payment terms that averaged out at 45 days.

A new year, a new decade even - but still the damning picture of just how much damage the UK’s late payment culture is doing to the small business economy continues to develop.

The latest depressing statistics, courtesy of digital business banking platform Tide, show that UK SMEs are on average spending a staggering one and a half hours every day chasing unpaid invoices. When you extrapolate that across the economy, that translates into 900,000 working hours being lost every single day.

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