UK micro-businesses owed £16.9bn in late payments

Slow payments culture "stifling growth" for 96% of all firms in the UK with impact on cash flow and resources

Late payments culture is “stifling the growth” of UK micro-businesses with £16.9bn owed in outstanding payments, research from Intuit Quickbooks has found.

Surveying 250 micro-businesses – companies with one to 10 employees – the research reported that a reluctance from larger firms to pay promptly is having a “major impact” on cash flow with 32% of micro-business owners having had to take loans or credit to pay suppliers and wages.

Slow payments was also found to have impacted upon resources with micro-businesses having to spend an average of 19 working days per year chasing invoices.

Only 36% of respondents said they issued e-invoices via email with many still issuing traditional paper invoices – and some waiting up until a month after completion of work to do so.

With micro-businesses said to account for 96% of all UK firms, Intuit managing director, Rich Preece, has said that late payments is “stopping entrepreneurs focusing on what really matters”:

“When you’re putting out fires and jumping over hurdles on a daily basis, you don’t need the distraction of worrying about whether you’ve been paid in a timely manner for your products or services, so it’s disheartening to see the extent of the issue.

“This isn’t just about late payments, it’s about expecting and facilitating payments much more quickly, and the impact this can have on the millions of very small firms across the UK. There’s major potential to dramatically improve micro businesses’ cash flow and save valuable time by making it easier for their customers to pay – particularly when the vast majority are more than happy to settle up immediately themselves when dealing with small businesses.”

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