Exposed: Scotland's 'chronic' late payment culture

Small business owners in Scotland are suffering from “chronic” late payments from clients, new research suggests.

Ed Molyneux - issue plagues the entire small business sector. Picture: Contributed

Glasgow was found to be the worst Scottish city for late payment, with just under half (49 per cent) of invoices paid on time, followed by Edinburgh (45 per cent) and Aberdeen (43 per cent).

Accountancy software firm FreeAgent, which conducted the research, said that across the UK as a whole 58 per cent of invoices sent during the 2018 calendar year were paid on time or within three days of their payment deadlines.

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While this is up from 52 per cent the year before, late payment remains a highly disruptive issue for UK businesses, the firm added.

FreeAgent reviewed data from a sample of its 50,000-plus customer-base and analysed hundreds of thousands of invoices that were sent in the last year to create a late payment overview of the nation.

Ed Molyneux, chief executive and co-founder of Edinburgh-based FreeAgent, said: “Nearly half of Scotland’s small business owners have experienced late payments, some of which go way beyond a week or two, with some taking months to settle invoices, or even not paying at all.

“Small businesses don’t have the luxury of being able to absorb late payments into their accounts – they need to get paid promptly to keep their cash flow healthy.

“Late and non-payment is a chronic condition that plagues the entire small business sector – regardless of business type, size, location or experience – so it is imperative that everyone is shielded from it,” he added.

In 2018, FreeAgent was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group where it is run as an operationally independent entity.