22 January 2010 | Jake Kanter
UK businesses have shortened the time they take to settle bills, according to research.
Last December companies paid suppliers in an average of 20.88 days after agreed terms, an improvement on the 23.54 days recorded in the same period in 2008.
The figures from more than 6,500 businesses showed that those in the South West were the fastest payers, settling bills in an average of 18.01 days beyond terms. Companies in London were the worst performers, making suppliers wait around 26.95 additional days for payment.
Postal and telecoms firms were among the slowest payers, while those in the agriculture and repairs industries scored best.
The overall improvement was described as a “significant turnaround” by
Joe Myers, head of commercial credit at information company Experian, which carried out the research.
But Phil McCabe, spokesman for the Forum of Private Business, disagreed with the findings. He said anecdotal evidence from the organisation’s 25,000 members suggested payment times were getting worse and the amount suppliers were owed was increasing.
His comments follow a claim this week by credit agency Graydon that the government’s 10-day payment pledge has failed. Its survey of 320 public sector suppliers found 98 per cent did not receive payment within the proposed time frame, while over 60 per cent had to wait more than 30 days for invoices to be settled.