According to BACS – the not-for-profit, membership-based industry body owned by 16 of the leading banks and building societies in the UK, Europe and US and which is responsible for the schemes behind the clearing and settlement of automated payments in the UK including Direct Debit and BACS Direct Credit – small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now owed a record £33.6bn in late payments.


This represents a rise of 10% over the last year, making it the highest since records began in 2007. Apparently, SMEs are owed an average of £39,000, and are waiting up to two months to get paid.


Comment: This situation is bad enough if you’re considering this issue ‘in theory’ but, if your company happens to be owed money by a ‘bad’ payer (for whatever reason), then the situation is altogether more personal and much more serious.


In aggregate terms, these late payments are stifling the British economy – and some 99 per cent of its private sector firms are SMEs; they provide some 59.1 per cent of private sector employment and 48.6 per cent of private sector turnover, according to UK Government figures.


In personal terms, bad payers are enterprises which have, in effect, stolen your products, services and/or expertise because they haven’t paid for them. Something you care for deeply (your business) and those who work for it (whom you also care about) have been used and abused – and their good natures and generosity imposed upon. Very often there is little opportunity for real recourse, if only because the organisation that owes the money plays the game by a much more devious set of rules.


Thankfully, Bob Little Press & PR doesn’t have many problems of this type at the moment. However, we may be publishing more on this subject – and naming some names – unless we hear very soon from…


Completely coincidentally, another recently revealed statistic – by the UK’s Insolvency Service – is that the number of people being declared insolvent in England and Wales fell slightly in the third quarter of 2011, to 30,219, but company insolvencies rose by 2% to 1,253.