Half of small firms suffering as late payments rocket

The SME Confidence Tracker report from Bibby Financial Services has revealed 51% of SMEs wait more than 30 days for payments from suppliers, with the UK's five million smaller firms owed a collective £26.8bn in overdue bills. The proportion is as high as 55% in the construction sector, up 11 percentage points since the same point in 2014. There has also been a 12 percentage point increase in manufacturing to 53%, and a 13 percentage point hike for wholesaling firms to 52%. Companies in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside are suffering the most, with those dealing with late payments in the North East doubling from 25% in the second quarter of 2014 to 50% in 2015. The South-East and South-West have experienced a 15 percentage point increase. The government has made efforts to tackle the problem, but Bibby's UK chief executive David Postings says the latest data shows it is escalating at an 'alarming rate'. New legislation will be introduced in April naming and shaming businesses with the worst record on payment delays, but Postings would like to see a culture change earlier.


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