New research from Sage found that more than two thirds of firms (68 per cent) were waiting 60 days for payment, and over half were waiting longer than 90 days. This follows the government’s announcement of a small business commissioner in an effort to help address the issue of late payments.
Of 368 surveyed, 70 per cent of small firm owners believe that making bigger companies commit to 30 day payments could help and would have a positive impact on their success. Some 28 per cent believe it would have a significant transformative effect on their business.
Sage has launched a Late Payments Manifesto and e-petition aiming to “serve as a rallying call to business owners” and “give a voice to the millions of firms” that are impacted by late payments each year. The government has invited businesses to have their say on the role of the commissioner and voice what they’ve found the most significant problems so far.
The software company’s campaign centres around the belief that businesses should adhere to 30 day payment terms, which Sage has introduced for all suppliers in the UK.
Brendan Flattery, president, Europe at Sage, said: “We welcome the news that the government has appointed a small business commissioner. The UK small business sector is vibrant, but always under pressure. One of the biggest threats is late payments.”
He added that “this not only puts a business’ survival in doubt – it impedes growth by making it difficult to take advantage when things pick up”. Productivity also takes a hit as firms are forced to “spend hundreds of hours every year chasing late payments”.
If successful at tackling the late payment culture, the new commissioner “will do some real good for the cash flow of the UK’s 5.2m small businesses, and in turn, the wider economy,” Flattery believes.
Previous research from Sage indicated that £55bn is owed in unpaid invoices across the UK – more than double the number initially estimated by the government.
The new study suggested a significant problem lay with the way bigger companies treat smaller suppliers. Some 67 per cent of business owners said larger firms were the worst offenders regarding late payments, as opposed to 15 per cent of small and medium businesses.
Flattery hopes the Sage campaign will “create an avalanche of signatures that no-one can ignore”.
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