Customers taking longer to pay bills

More than a third of businesses are finding customers taking longer to pay invoices than a year ago, according to a report out today.

Edward Rimmer, Bibby Financial Services' UK chief executive, said: "Across this nation, businesses are fighting for survival, with sustaining a healthy cashflow one of the biggest challenges.

"We need to support one another and do everything possible not to succumb to the easy route of late payment as it can become a vicious circle which halts the purchasing cycle and ultimately can disrupt the supply chain, not to mention the impact on the goodwill and trust of other customers and suppliers."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "The government wholeheartedly agrees on the importance of prompt payment - late payment can undermine supply chain relations and confidence in the economy.

"However, recent Experian data shows the situation is improving. UK payment times have returned to pre-downturn levels, and are now comparable to the level recorded in April 2008.

"The public sector is also stepping up to the challenge - 19 out of every 20 invoices are now paid by central department within 10 days, and in last week's Budget the government announced its intention to pay the majority of invoices within five days, whilst government contractors will also be required to pay their suppliers within 30 days."

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