New research from Dun & Bradstreet has revealed that UK businesses prompt payments deteriorated in the three months to June (Q2). On average, less than a third (31.5%) of payments were made on time compared to 31.3% in the previous quarter. The average payment delay in the UK is around 15 days, two days higher than the European average.
Dun & Bradstreet’s UK Quarterly Industry Report shows a clear split by sector, with ‘Health/Education/Social’ and ‘Finance/Industry/Property’ recording the sharpest deterioration in payment performance (down by 1.7% and by 1.4% respectively quarter-to-quarter). However, more positive results were recorded for the Consumer Manufacturing sector which demonstrated the largest improvement, followed by the ‘Eating and Drinking’ (0.8%) and ‘Materials Processing/Mining’ (0.6%) sectors.
Late payments remain a significant problem for UK-based small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). On average, larger companies of 251 employees or more only paid 8.1% of their payments promptly, compared with smaller companies of 250 employees or less, which averaged at 25.7% for paying their suppliers on time.
Commenting on the results, Markus Kuger, Senior Economist at Dun and Bradstreet said: “What is perhaps most worrying from the data is the sheer volume of late payments UK-based companies are having to contend with, not least as a result of weaker retail sales and the uncertainty of the impact of Brexit on businesses. Although there is legislation in place to assist small businesses with their struggle against late payments, the majority of the time they take no action for fear of alienating their larger customers. Late payments affect businesses across the sectors and of all sizes and give rise to tighter financial conditions and higher administrative, transaction and financial. With continued uncertainty for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will see further deterioration in prompt payments due to rising headwinds triggered by the Brexit vote.”