Action to help with late payment

Late payment is bad business practice that has been an issue for small businesses for a long time.

Over 24% of SMEs now regard late payments as a problem for their business and it does mean that one in four SMEs are still struggling to cope, despite a series of government initiatives designed to get on top of the problem.

Late payment culture that exists between businesses in the UK means that:

  • A third of payments to small businesses are late which is around 1 in 4 SME’s face a late payment problem.
  • The average value of each payment is £6,142 with the average debt being £40,000. 20% of small businesses have run in to cash flow problems due to late payments.
  • If small businesses were paid on time, this could boost the economy by an estimated £2.5 billion annually.
  • Almost half of SMEs now using or considering invoice finance products.

Small and medium-sized enterprises continue to suffer from late payments from customers in huge numbers, whilst the number of firms experiencing significant problems has fallen over the past three years, almost a quarter are still suffering at the hands of customers who do not pay their bills on time.

The Forum of Private Business want to highlight these bad businesses practices in our wall of shame (link to wall of shame page), and campaign to make 30-day payment terms a legal requirement.

But there are some actions you can implement yourself within your business to try to prevent late payment.

Actions you can take in your own business.


Get a PO number where appropriate.


Include your supplier address and payment details on your invoice.


Build a relationship with the big companies’ finance team, rather than just chasing late payments.


Make sure you send the invoice on time.


Is the invoice in a format that the customer requires.

We have also produced a credit control guide full of useful hints and tips that you can apply within your business.

If you are experiencing any late payment issues please contact our helpdesk team 01565 626001 or email They will try to help resolve your issues and escalate through our various channels if needed.