Getting paid on time remains a challenge

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Late payment could become part of corporate culture, according to a new study by Sheffield-based debt recovery and credit control specialist P&A Receivables Services and Sheffield Hallam University Business School.

The two organisations surveyed credit and finance professionals and found that more than 70 percent of leading international and UK suppliers are being paid late by their customers.

The survey also reveals an increase in the percentage of customers requesting extensions to payment terms over the last 12 months – up from 59 percent to almost 69 per cent.

P&A Receivables Services Laurie Beagle said: “As a double dip recession spreads across Europe getting paid on time remains a challenge.

“The concern is that late payment is now becoming a “new culture”. All of us in credit and finance management need to work towards ensuring that this does not happen.

“We said a year ago that getting paid on time is critical to business survival and while insolvencies have dipped in the UK this is not the same across all European countries.

P&A runs 11 industry and credit forums in the UK and Europe and Laurie Beagle says comments from clients and at forums have shown that late payment, debt collection and fraud top the list of concerns.

Meanwhile, some firms are using requests for extended terms and a slowdown in payments as deliberate tactics to hang on to the cash.

“On a positive note I did feel that there was some optimism in our survey with nearly 46 per cent of the respondents thought that their prospects were good. We hope that this is a growing trend for 2012,” Mr Beagle added.

Survey respondents came from manufacturing, distribution and service companies working across the UK and internationally. They included global household names in IT and new technologies and members of the credit forums chaired by Laurie Beagle.