When a client starts to miss payment deadlines and debts mount up, it is natural to start to wonder - do they have the means to pay?

When companies get into financial difficulties, it can leave suppliers who are owed money in a tricky situation. As the saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a stone. If a business does not have any ready money available, debts will go unpaid.

The Scottish government has been forced into an embarrassing admission after it was revealed that it fails to pay a fifth of invoices on time. After the late payments figures were made public by the Scottish Labour party, the ruling SNP’s Finance Secretary Derek MacKay had to confirm they were correct during a Parliamentary session at Holyrood.

The government has ordered all large businesses to disclose information on payment practices as it seeks to crackdown on late payment culture. From April, all enterprises which meet the qualifying criteria face a statutory Duty to Report information including the average time taken to pay invoices and details of payment dispute protocols.

The reports, which must be submitted twice a year, will be published online, giving suppliers access to critical information on the payment practices of potential larger clients.

In today’s economic climate, business customers and clients are increasingly asking for - and in many cases expecting - credit from their suppliers.

There are obviously many benefits to offering credit. It shows a willingness to be flexible which fosters stronger business relationships, and it helps to secure or keep important contracts. Used properly, extending credit for goods and services can give your business a competitive advantage and boost income.

In the B2B world, practically every enterprise will extend credit to a client or customer at some point or another.

For vendors and resellers, credit facilities are a familiar part of payment terms. But even service providers will regularly be in the habit of extending credit to clients - remember, time is money, and any work you do before the first payment date can be considered as credit.

Irish courts are experiencing sharp spike in the number of cases linked to international debt collection. A recent flurry of media coverage has brought attention to the operations of so-called ‘vulture funds’ as they apparently step up debt recovery in Ireland.

Vulture funds are financial organisations such as investment trusts, private equity firms and hedge funds which look for opportunities to make a profit from debt collection. They buy up debts at a discounted rate from organisations which no longer wish to be liable for them and then seek to recover more than they paid.

The scourge of unpaid invoices threatening the survival of small and medium sized businesses is an international problem. In Australia, things have got so bad that some companies are turning to desperate debt collection methods to try to recover money owed to them.

As a new report revealed that the average Australian business is typically owed £23,000 in outstanding invoices, one industry spokesman suggested hard pressed firms are ready to return to an old and infamous solution - biker gangs.

Consider the following scenario. You are a small, up and coming web design company contracted to create a brand new site for a consumer-facing business. They want the works, attention grabbing graphic design, cutting edge multimedia content, intuitive and interactive navigation, and quality text content. Your small team spends weeks painstakingly programming the source code and curating the content to the client’s specifications. Finally, the site is ready to go live. You are rightly very proud of what you have created.

At this point, the client suddenly goes quiet. Won’t answer the phone, won’t return emails. The payment period on your invoice lapses. You offer to negotiate, still nothing. What do you do?

A new report has confirmed the shocking impact that unpaid B2B debts have on the UK economy.

A survey of SMEs by Amicus Commercial Finance found that the average small business in the UK writes off a staggering £12,000 each year in unpaid invoices, mainly from larger customers and clients.

Taken across the entire economy, that adds up to an unbelievable £50bn a year in lost revenue - or £134 million lost to bad debt every single day.

Three quarters of the businesses surveyed said they had written off debts entirely in the past year. Amongst the worst affected group, businesses with 50 to 249 employees, a quarter of all invoices are not being paid on time, if at all.

 

The only thing anyone can be certain about at this stage following June’s vote for the UK to leave the EU is that no one is going to be certain about anything else very quickly. Brexit has understandably created huge interest and nervousness in the business community as companies try to work out how the break from Britain’s largest trading partner will impact on them.

Hitting the Headlines: Safe Collections in the Guardian

in About Safe Collections by Adam Home
If you're a Guardian reader, you may have seen Safe Collections' collections and partnerships manager Adam Home quoted in a Guardian Professional article on May 12th. Tim Aldred's piece looked at the case for credit control teams as a way for businesses to…

Hitting The Headlines: The Independent on Sunday

in About Safe Collections by Adam Home
In 2009 our founder and Managing Director was interviewed for a piece in The Independent On Sunday, this article is reproduced below with their kind permission. in 2009 we still went by our original name of Creditsafe Ltd, whilst our name may have changed our…