Small firms are struggling to recover as much as £63bn in unpaid bills, according to new figures published today.
A survey from Royal Bank of Scotland suggests that almost three quarters of all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the country have experienced late payment. Wholesalers have suffered particularly badly, with more than 90 per cent contending with long invoice ageing periods.
It is perhaps surprising then that the same research also suggests that less than half of all SMEs have put in place any effective credit control methods, or considered ways that they can reduce invoice ageing.
Around one in ten have hired a member of staff for this purpose. Just 8 per cent have used factoring services to help them deal with the problem.
But the number of firms at immediate risk of collapse as a result of late payment is down, from 32 per cent in 2008 to 16 per cent now. This is more likely to be down to suppliers finally paying invoices of their own volition, than to more effective credit control procedures.