ISME calls for action as unpaid bills put pressure on companies
THE Government should force state agencies and big corporations to settle bills on time, ending an unnecessary burden on small business, according the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).
It comes after almost half of 770 small companies said they were subject to delays of three months and more when it came to getting paid.
According to ISME chief executive Mark Fielding, such late payment are the start of a vicious circle that ultimately hits jobs among the smallest, most vulnerable companies.
ISME's latest Credit Watch survey found that companies were being placed under severe pressure by deliberately delayed payments.
"Late payments have always been a problem for small businesses and this has intensified as state bodies and accountancy-led big business take longer and longer to pay," said Mr Fielding.
The survey found that the average payment period for small businesses was 73 days. ISME called on the Government to make it mandatory to pay bills within 60 days, reducing to 30 days over two years.
ISME wants all state agencies and local authorities to introduce a 15-day rule for payment.
In the current climate of high insolvency rates, delayed payments leave creditors vulnerable to losses if customers shut before bills are settled.
The survey found that Ulster counties have the best record for prompt payment, while in Munster and Connacht businesses wait 76 days on average for accounts to be settled.