UK’s micro businesses show greatest resilience as late payment times increase

Businesses in South-West take over half the time to pay, compared to North West counterparts

Experian®, the global information services company, has revealed that late payment among UK firms increased by almost a day during the third quarter of the year. UK firms settled bills an average of 26.13 days late in July, August and September, compared to 25.26 days during April to June.

Despite the overall increase, the UK’s smallest firms (1 to 2 employees) still managed to limit the increase in their payment performance to half a day, the smallest increase recorded during the period.

The largest increase came from the biggest firms (over 501 employees) from 32.79 days late in Q2 to 34.89 days late in Q3.

Jason Mills, Head of Payment Performance at Experian UK & Ireland, said: “With the average time it takes to settle bills worsening in the last three months, it underlines why it pays to keep a close eye on suppliers’ and customers’ payment performance. Nowhere is this more evident than in the North West of England, where our analysis shows that businesses are paying suppliers nearly 37 days late, taking 8 days longer than the second worst late paying region.”

Regional performance
Businesses in the North West, which were already the slowest payers in the country, saw the biggest deterioration in payment performance by over two days from 34.60 days late in Q2 to 36.72 days late in Q3. Experian’s analysis also shows that this region has also experienced increased insolvencies since Q4 2010 and is now the region with the second highest insolvency rate in the UK.

Industry trends
Businesses operating in the extractive, utilities and building/construction industries were the only ones to see small improvements in payment performance during Q3 this year.

The industries to see the highest increases were the oil, pharmaceuticals, food retailing and leisure/hotels sectors, which all increased by more than two days.