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Late payments among the main barriers to SME growth, survey reveals

Late payments remain one of the main challenges facing SMEs, a new poll by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has revealed. To what extent do delayed payments continue to hamper commercial success, and can anything be done to prevent them?

Late payments remain one of SMEs’ ‘main challenges’

One third of SMEs that responded to the BIS survey said late payments were among the biggest challenges they face. Other barriers to success were competition (49%), red tape (49%), taxation (43%) and employee recruitment and improving staff skill sets (32%).

Meanwhile, more than two thirds (69%) of respondents said they expected sales figures to grow during the following three years, and a further 26% said they’re planning to increase staff numbers in 2017. If late payments were less of a problem, these figures may well have been higher.

These findings come just a month after market research company YouGov and payment systems firm ACI Worldwide, in a separate poll, discovered that almost half (48%) of SMEs are irritated by the length of time it takes for delayed payments to settle. A further third said that late transactions affected their ability to fulfill their cash flow obligations.

Calls for the government to do more

Mike Cherry, the Federation of Small Businesses’ National Chairman, believes the buck stops with the government in terms of who can improve the SME trading environment. Responding to the BIS’s findings, Mr Cherry expressed concern about the “all-too-familiar barriers” that limit commercial growth.

“Key obstacles include regulation, taxation, late payment and finding staff with the right skills”, Mr Cherry commented. These issues, Cherry added, “come up time and time again in our own surveys, and [they] must be prioritised by Government if smaller firms are to achieve their full economic potential.”

Ethical Enforcement Agents like Dukes Bailiffs specialise in providing solutions to the culture of late payments that so many SMEs experience. If you’re the owner of a small firm that’s struggling with cash flow problems, contact us to find out how our experts can help improve your business’s liquidity.

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