Micro businesses cap late payment times

One-person businesses and the IT sector have emerged as two relative bright spots in an otherwise gloomy snapshot of late commercial payment, which increased by almost a day during the third quarter.

Releasing figures for July, August and September, Experian showed that IT businesses were paid on average 22 days late – significantly longer than the 18 days they waited for payment in the same period last year.

But the current waiting time for technology firms to receive payment beyond their due date is still better than the average, 26 days, and, since January, has only increased marginally - by less than 24 hours. 

That means bills from IT companies are generally being settled quicker than those from general business services suppliers, telecommunications providers, leisure operators and building/construction firms.

For the slowest-to-be-paid firms, such as food retailers and oil companies, the waiting time notched up by two full working days – although generally, and regardless of sector, the smaller the business; the greater its resilience.

In fact, the UK’s micro firms (with between one and two employees) managed to limit the increase in their payment terms to half a day - the smallest increase recorded over the quarter.

Yet heading off room for complacency, Experian said: “With the average time it takes to settle bills worsening in the last three months, it underlines why it pays to keep a close eye on suppliers’ and customers’ payment performance.”

Oct 25, 2011