Over three quarters (76%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have written off unpaid debts in the past year, according to new research by Amicus Commercial Finance.
In the last year, the average amount written off by UK SMEs is £11,708, representing just under £50 billion in written off debts, or £134 million every day.
Late payments are a huge issue for many small businesses, and research has shown that Britian's self-employed are losing £8.1billion a year after being forced to give up chasing unpaid payments from customers.
Among the 500 small businesses owners surveyed, medium-sized businesses with between 50 and 249 employees are the worst affected by delayed payments, with a quarter (24%) of invoices remaining unpaid after their debtor day period or not at all. Firms of this size lose an average of £33,750 a year through unpaid debts.
One-in-five (18%) SMEs said they had lost contracts due to cashflow problems. In order to mitigate the impact of late payments, growing numbers of SMEs are turning to invoice finance to secure reliable cashflow. While 8% of firms said they currently use invoice finance an additional 19% of business owners plan to use it in future including 11% in the next 12 months.
John Wilde, managing director of Amicus Commercial Finance, commented: “Our research shows that not only is there a reliance by many UK SMEs on clients’ invoices being paid within the debtor day period, but that despite this, significant amounts of debt are being written off due to non-payment. Given this, it’s understandable that business owners are increasingly turning to invoice finance as a way of converting unpaid debts into instant working capital.”
According to the research, the biggest challenges caused by cashflow shortages included paying suppliers, cited by 41% of business owners, meeting debt repayments (30%), buying inventory (29%) and paying staff (24%).