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.
It’s a billion-dollar industry that, unless you take your video gaming seriously, you might not even know exists. But the world of esports - competitive cash-prize and professional video gaming - has become big business, with live events attracting audiences of millions online and in person, not to mention highly lucrative corporate sponsorship deals.
Figures taken from a government consultation into tackling late payment culture reveal that just one in 10 businesses paid late by clients take up the option of adding permissible charges.
The report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy further confirms the shocking extent of late payments across the UK economy, with 97% of participants in the consultation saying they had experience of not being paid on time. More than a third of the businesses asked (36%) said more than half of their invoices were settled after the agreed deadline.
An initial review of payment practices under the government’s Prompt Payment Code has found 17 signatories in breach of the code’s commitments.
A total of five companies - BHP Billiton, DHL, GKN Plc, John Sisk & Son Ltd and Twinings - have been kicked out of the scheme completely for non-compliance and for failing to produce an action plan for how they intend to bring their payment practices in line with the stipulations.
New figures exposing the extent of the UK’s late payment culture have revealed that more than 100,000 companies waited an average of 57 days for payment from clients last year - almost double the government’s statutory payment terms.
The research, carried out by insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor, found that one in 10 of these contractors and suppliers went out of business - 1000 firms in total.
So it is that time of year again, businesses are scrambling to get things finished for the big Christmas shut down and, for a few days at least, you can leave your problems in the office - no chasing invoices, no worrying about cash flow, no playing the diplomat with awkward suppliers or clients.
But at the risk of dampening the festive spirits, it is only a temporary respite. Those payments you are struggling to get finalised will still be outstanding come January. But on the other hand, the New Year is always a great time to make a fresh start. So as our Christmas present to you, here is our 12-step guide to what you can do to maximise your chances of getting paid on time in 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.