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UK late payment culture creates a dangerous domino effect, burdening businesses, suppliers, and customers

According to research from GoCardless, 38% of UK businesses report that receiving late payments has made them consider delaying payments to their own suppliers
Linda Yang

By Linda YangSep 20212 min read

35% of businesses say that receiving late payments would make them consider raising prices

LONDON, 7 September 2021 - New research suggests that a single late payment doesn't just affect the business immediately involved, but triggers a domino effect that tumbles down the entire payment flow.

A survey of 500 UK business decision makers from GoCardless, a global leader in account-to-account payments, finds that 86% agree that one late payment affects everyone in the supply chain. Indeed, out of the 31% of businesses that have paid a supplier late, almost half (47%) say that it was due to late or failed payments from their customers. Nearly four in ten (38%) report that receiving late payments has made them consider delaying payments to their own suppliers, pushing the problem further downstream. 

Even those outside the flow of funds shoulder the burden. Over a third (35%) of businesses indicate that late payments would make them think about raising the price of their products or services for customers. A quarter (26%) say they would consider postponing their hiring plans, potentially impacting the availability of much-needed jobs.

The findings indicate, however, that businesses would like to turn this vicious cycle into a virtuous one, with 97% of respondents agreeing that every business should be paid on time. And, the first thing one in five businesses (20%) would do if they collected all of their receivables on time is to pay their own suppliers sooner. 

The news comes as GoCardless releases its 2021 Global Payment Timings Index, an analysis of over 40 million payments to establish benchmarks for how long it takes a business to get paid. 

The index finds that businesses using account-to-account payments like bank debit have the shortest wait between charging a customer and receiving funds into their account, with those using bank debit via GoCardless getting paid, on average, in 3.6 days. This is more than five times faster than physical methods such as cheques where merchants are forced to wait 22 days. 

Given the downstream effects of a single late payment, the index and related research highlight the impact that one company’s payment strategy could have on a wider ecosystem. 

Pranav Sood, VP Small Business at GoCardless says: “Slow and late payments present a challenge to businesses of all sizes, but what is often ignored is the trickle-down effect this has on both suppliers and customers. Prompt payments power change that can boost the entire economy. This is why GoCardless is pushing for improvement, not only for the businesses we support but also for the suppliers and customers implicated in the wider chain.” 

To further address the issue of late payments, GoCardless has partnered with Good Business Pays, a movement backed by the UK’s largest business groups which aims to bring an end to slow and late payments. 

Responding to the research, Dr Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors -- a member organisation of Good Business Pays -- says: “These findings indicate that paying on time is not something that benefits a single organisation. It has a positive impact up and down the supply chain, and beyond. All businesses must play their part to better this issue for the good of the broader economy, especially as we rebuild in this post-Covid world.” 

For more information, contact: Linda Yang, Head of PR, GoCardless lyang@gocardless.com +44 7533575155

The research cited in this release was conducted by Attest in August 2021. The survey was conducted online, interviewing a nationally representative sample of 500 UK decision makers in small, medium, and large businesses.

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