The rhetoric surrounding the UK’s late payments culture was ramped up another notch this week as an influential Parliamentary committee recommended a mandatory 30-day payment term to stamp out the problem.

Publishing its Small Business and Productivity report, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee concluded that ‘disgraceful’ behaviour by big firms in particular on payments was seriously hampering output and growth amongst SME suppliers.

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It feels like we have been here before somehow. Lots of well-meaning words, a tough-sounding stance… and then what? Rinse and repeat.

The latest announcement from the government on the subject of late payment culture has come in the form of a “call for evidence” from Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst specifically on how to end the abuse of SMEs by large corporate clients.

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It's not often a company like ours faces problems with payments, after all most of our customers are more than happy to be charged by us as this usually means we have recovered what they are owed. But like all businesses we occasionally encounter issues with clients that don't like to pay on time, or in fact at all. That's why we've chosen to open our "2018 Safe Collections - Late Payment Hall of Shame" featuring companies that have failed to honour their agreements with us.

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Just under half of large businesses admit to paying suppliers late to protect their own cash flow, according to a new report.

In the UK Business Payments Barometer 2018 survey carried out by Bottomline, 44% of businesses with between 250 and 10,000 employees said they pay invoices late in order to protect liquidity or prioritise other payments.

This comes just a year after the government introduced its Duty to Report (DTR) regulation requiring qualifying large businesses to publish information on payment practices, including average time taken to settle invoices.

Applicable to any company with more than 250 employees, £36m turnover or £18m on the balance sheet, the government hoped DTR would help to tackle late payment culture by bringing the worst excesses out into the open. If these latest survey figures are taken as a gauge, it is yet to work.

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The government’s much-vaunted ‘Northern Powerhouse’ may have turned out to be little more than a catchy phrase scribbled down on the back of a Chancellor’s fag packet. But at least contractors and small suppliers operating in the North of England’s biggest cities are more likely than most to get paid on time.

In a survey carried out by FreeAgent, small traders in Manchester reported the lowest rate of late payments nationwide. According to the findings, 86% of invoices issued by freelancers and microbusinesses in the city are paid by the due date - which compares very favourably to the national average of 52%.

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The total value of overdue payments owed to UK small businesses has rocketed by an astonishing £1bn in just six months, according to a new report.

The survey by small business financiers Liberis found that the average SME was waiting on £11,000 in outstanding payments. When extrapolated across the country’s 5.5 million small businesses, that generates a total figure of £14.9bn - up by a billion on findings from just six months ago.

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The Government’s flagship initiative for helping small businesses when they face unpaid invoices has been dealt something of a PR blow - by the man they appointed to lead the scheme.

Speaking to The Times, Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal, who ran a construction business for 20 years before becoming a Conservative MP, insisted he understood from experience “the real anguish” not being paid on time creates for SME owners.

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The Parliamentary report into the collapse of disgraced outsourcing giant Carillion has certainly pulled no punches.

Amongst the tastiest soundbites, MPs have accused bosses of ‘stuffing their mouths with gold’ while the company’s finances floundered, summing up their behaviour as ‘recklessness, hubris and greed’.

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Small business owners want the UK government to outlaw late payments as new figures reveal that half of SMEs face financial stress due to not being paid on time.

In a new survey carried out by YouGov and reported by The Sunday Times, 61 per cent of small business owners strongly support the suggestion that the government should legislate to force companies to pay suppliers on time.

The idea put forward in the survey was to create a mandatory 45-day payment term for all invoices. Not only would such a move strengthen the hand of small suppliers and contractors when payments become late, it would also curb the practice of big businesses imposing punitive conditions, such as the notorious 120-day terms collapsed outsourcing giant Carillion insisted on.

Just 11 per cent of firms with fewer than 250 employees are opposed to the idea of legislation.

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The UK’s supermarket watchdog has published its annual grocery code compliance list, naming and shaming supermarkets for poor treatment of suppliers and other breaches of the industry code of practice.The UK’s supermarket watchdog has published its annual grocery code compliance list, naming and shaming supermarkets for poor treatment of suppliers and other breaches of the industry code of practice.

This year, Asda has secured the dubious honour of having the poorest relationship with its suppliers, leapfrogging its West Yorkshire rival Morrisons which topped the shame list last year. Iceland, meanwhile, was ranked worst for overall compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice in the past year.

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