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Late invoice payments ‘critical concern’

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has reacted angrily to new figures that show UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) are spending an average of nearly three hours every week chasing unpaid invoices.

The FPB, which has fought hard against the 'malign' culture of late payment, said independent research, commissioned by corporate funding specialists GMAC Commercial Finance, shows that the UK's four million SMEs spend 11.5 million hours pursuing unpaid invoices every week.

The FPB's chief executive Nick Goulding said late payment is still a matter of critical concern, ranking fourth in the FPB's last quarterly survey.

"The Government - particularly the new minister responsible for small firms, Alun Michael - and the Better Payment Practice Group must not ignore these shocking figures.

“They paint a vivid picture of the time smaller businesses waste on bad debtors. That is precious time that should be being spent running and growing the business,” says Goulding.

Even by the Government's own statistics from the Small Business Service, SMEs are owed £17 billion from debtors at any one time, and approximately 10,000 UK businesses fail each year as a direct result of late payment. The FPB urges all business that suffer from late payment to report the offending bad debtors to the Office of Fair trading and the Department of Trade and Industry.

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