UK SMEs owed £67.4 billion in unpaid invoices


British SMEs are owed £67.4 billion in unpaid invoices with manufacturing and construction among the sectors owed the most, according to new figures.

Research by the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) found that outstanding invoices from construction SMEs currently stand at £7bn, amounting to 16 per cent of annual turnover in the sector.

Separate research by the ABFA recently showed that construction businesses wait an average of 107 days for payment of invoices, while manufacturers must wait 61 days on average.

The overall figure of outstanding invoices is up 8 per cent from £62.5bn in the last year alone, and 36 per cent from £49.5bn in 2011 as the extent of overdue payments and extended payment times grows.

Jeff Longhurst, chief executive of the ABFA, said: “The scale of unpaid invoices to Britain’s SMEs has become enormous, but there is no reason for it to become a barrier to investment and growth.”

“Businesses need to recognise that their unpaid invoices are an asset. In many cases, they are the most valuable asset an SME has, and they can be the key to unlocking critical and affordable funding.”

“Invoice finance is playing a bigger role than ever in funding British and Irish businesses’ growth, and it is now an established part of the funding mix for a huge number of SMEs. But it can also help many more businesses.”

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