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The cash flow difficulties that late payments cause small businesses are well known. However, the cost of recovering late payments is less well publicised, despite being a major and growing expense – coming in at around £9,000 last year for an average business.
Research by Bacs Payment Schemes found that the cost of recovering late payments has increased considerably in recent months. Collecting money owed to them collectively cost small businesses £6.7 billion in 2018, having risen from £2.6 billion in 2017. The figures comprise costs such as staff time and interest on borrowing taken out to make up for the shortfall caused by late payments.
Small businesses’ efforts to tackle the problem could be beginning to pay off – with the total value of late payments falling from £14 billion in 2017 to £13 billion in 2018.
Paul Horlock, Chief Executive of Pay.UK of which Bacs is a part, said: “When smaller companies do well, so does UK plc; as the backbone of the whole economy, the significance of SMEs cannot be overstated.”