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Businesses want late payers named and shamed

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Cash-strapped British businesses have declared their support for business minister Michael Fallon’s proposals to name and shame the members of the FTSE 350 refusing to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

69 per cent of business owners and finance directors questioned in debt collection agency Hilton-Baird Collection Services’ annual Late Payment Survey believed Mr Fallon was doing the right thing in threatening to disclose the names of those ignoring repeated requests to join the code.

This support comes after their businesses had to wait an average of 21 days beyond agreed credit terms to be paid by customers during 2012; an increase of four days from 2011. Late payments are an escalating problems for small and mid-sized businesses.

Some 13 per cent of businesses said they were forced to write off more than five per cent of their turnover over the past 12 months, with 38 per cent classifying over ten per cent of their debtor books as more than 90 days old.

Managing director of Hilton-Baird Collection Services, Alex Hilton-Baird, commented: “Businesses are firmly behind Michael Fallon’s attempts to encourage the country’s largest firms to improve their payment performance. Whether this will have any effect remains to be seen, however, as it isn’t just large corporates that are culpable. Late payment is occurring right the way through the supply chain.

“These numbers are simply unmanageable for the vast majority of businesses, particularly when you take into consideration the range of other pressures on their cash flows at present. In many cases businesses are having to wait more than 60 days, sometimes more, to be paid after providing goods or services. Given this, it is obvious why the economy is caught in a state of flux.”

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