The UK's small businesses are facing even longer overdue invoices than at the worst point of the recession, according to figures from ABFA.
In a report published earlier this month, the Asset Based Finance Association revealed that, in 2009 when the recession peaked, firms with turnover of less than £1 million per year were waiting on average 61 days for invoices to be paid.
At only just outside 60-day payment terms, that might not sound so bad - but since then the wait on overdue invoices has lengthened by an alarming 11 days, to reach 72 days.
The big boys, with turnover in excess of £500 million, are of course not waiting as long - just 47 days at present, an improvement of one day since last year and the exact opposite of the one-day increase in small businesses' waiting times.
Jeff Longhurst, chief executive of ABFA, said: "Despite the economic recovery gathering pace, payment delays are getting worse, not better, for small businesses.
"Delays to payments put enormous pressure on small businesses' cash flow - they have to meet overheads, tax bills, and their own supplier invoices, whether they've been paid or not."
Sole trader troubles
The end of July is of course a major tax deadline day for self-assessed sole traders, many of whom will be paying six months' worth of tax to HMRC 'on account', and at this time of year cash flow is an even greater concern.
But research from Paym, the Payments Council's mobile payments app, reveals a hypocritical approach to paying sole traders from many consumers.
The study found 86% of people think it is important to pay small businesses promptly and 57% prefer to pay in cash - yet when it comes to the crunch, 17% of people pay late and 44% have to run out to the cash machine to withdraw some money.
On average, sole traders are left to chase £208 in outstanding and overdue payments at the end of a normal month, 30% have cut off a customer due to non-payment, and 23% have given up all hope of recovering at least one payment in the past.
Supporting sole traders
Sole traders and small businesses work hard - we all know that, especially those of us who have ever been in business for ourselves.
It's only right for this hard work to be rewarded with prompt payment at the agreed rate, yet even the most well-meaning of consumers are quite capable of overlooking an invoice when it comes to the crunch.
That leaves it down to the creditor, not the debtor, to send out a clear message that non-payment will not be accepted - and now you can recover reasonable costs from the debtor too, even small amounts are worth chasing without ending up out of pocket.
Make sure you're adding statutory interest, permitted penalty costs, and reasonable recovery fees to the original invoice, and debtors will soon sit up and take notice when the amount they owe you starts to climb.
Over 150 Years Of Industry Experience
Our modest but highly skilled team has a combined total of over 150 years of experience in commercial credit management and B2B debt collection. From independent IT contractors to major film and TV publishers, Safe Collections has the knowledge and experience you need to get paid quickly and cost effectively.
Business Monkey by the very talented "Pascal" used under CC BY