Unpaid bills stand at £18bn

The survey shows the larger the business the bigger the debt with businesses with turnover topping £1m waiting on average for a huge £258,000 in late payments. The overall average of outstanding debt is £53,000.

Link: Read more on debt recovery

There is now growing concern that measures taken by governement to ease late payments are not working.

Anthony Sherick of BACS said: ‘These findings are worrying, given the efforts being made by the government to reduce levels of late payments within British business. The research confirms the damaging effect that the culture of late payments has on UK businesses and company balance sheets.’

The last part of the government’s Late Payment of Commercial Debt Act – intended to combat lingering unpaid bills – should be in place this week but accoding to BACS 54% have never heard of the legislation and only 3% of those businesses able to use it, have done so.

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