Sunday 17 December 2017

Call for late payment action as number of SMEs forced to wait two months hits 80pc

Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell. Photo: ISME
Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell. Photo: ISME
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Almost eight in ten small and medium-sized businesses are waiting more than two months to get paid for work they've done, according to new figures.

That's up from 73pc in the first three months of the year.

About 46pc of firms are waiting longer to be paid now than they were a year ago, and some government departments are also taking longer to make payments to businesses.

The average payment period for SMEs has now worsened to 61 days, the latest credit watch survey from lobby group Isme has found.

Businesses in Dublin and the Border counties are waiting the longest. "It is unacceptable for 77pc of businesses to experience delays of two months or more," said Isme CEO Neil McDonnell.

"These delays impact cash flow, employment, and investment in businesses."

Some 532 businesses were quizzed for the survey, which found that 77pc are of SMEs are experiencing delays of two months or more in getting paid.

More than 80pc don't charge interest on late payments, with 14pc stating that they're afraid that they will lose the business.

Around 73pc of SMEs favour a statutory 30-day payments regime, with no opt-out.

"[The] results are disappointing," Mr McDonnell added.

"Late payments are big issue for SMEs; it is vital that big businesses, government agencies and other SMEs pay each other on time." Distribution firms are waiting longest on payment at 67 days, while those in the hospitality sector wait 40 days.

Dublin and Ulster businesses wait longest on payment at 63 days and 72 days respectively.

Businesses in Connaught wait the shortest time at 49 days.

Isme is calling on the Government to publicise, promote and champion the Fair Payment Code for all businesses, as well as insist that all state agencies, including the HSE, adhere to the 15-day rule.

"This increase in payment delays is at odds with good business practice; government needs to introduce measures that will help tackle the issue of late payments," Mr McDonnell added.

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