A new survey shows that small businesses are spending on average more than one working week chasing late payments. SMEs spend a total of 56.4 million hours looking for overdue payments, most of which are done after hours.

According to a report commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks, 56.4 million hours a year were used to look for overdue and late payments. The study which looked at 500 small businesses found that 56% chased these late payments outside of their regular work hours, eating into their personal and family time.

More than one in five are chasing late payments before the start of the working day. However, when given the choice only 15% of small business owners would use the time saved on spending it with their friends and family.

The report estimated that the time wasted on chasing these late payments were worth £6.3 billion. On average, at any given time an SME is waiting on nine outstanding payments and 11% of these outstanding payments are more than 200 days late.

Chris Evans, VP and UK Country Manager at Intuit QuickBooks said “Cash is oxygen for small businesses and without it they cannot breathe. The combination of chasing invoices and bad payment practices means small businesses can run out of accessible cash. This has a real impact on their ability to take on new work, pay suppliers, their employees or themselves on time and can add unnecessary extra stress into their lives.”