By Inna Kaushan, co-founder of Solna.
Using the data of over 3million SMEs up and down the country research has been undertaken to discover which regions are the highest and lowest risk for small businesses and freelancers when it comes to getting invoices paid on time. 121 areas of the UK were scored and ranked based on how quickly businesses make their payments.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 58% of their members are owed up to £10,000 in late payments from their clients. 15% are owed between £10,000 and £20,000, and an incredible 27% are owed over £20,000 from their late paying clients.
Invoicing platform Solna, which undertook the new research on late payments, scored businesses from 1 to 5, based on their creditworthiness and ability to pay invoices on time. Businesses scoring 5 have the best credit rating and consistently pay on time, businesses scoring 1 have lower credit ratings and regularly pay late.
All scores were ranked to reveal the highest and lowest risk areas in the UK for late payments.
Late payments: Highest risk areas in the UK
- West Central London
- East Central London
- North London
Late payments: Lowest risk areas in the UK
4. Hemel Hempstead
6. Outer Hebrides
Most reliable payers: in the Scottish Islands
Some of the most northerly parts of Scotland come out on top, dominating the top 4 low risk positions. Towns in Surrey, Dumfries and Galloway, Hertfordshire, and Dorset make up the rest of the top 10.
Interestingly, the best freelance and business clients might be found off the mainland. Remote Scottish islands, including Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, and Shetland, are the most reliable for fast payments.
Orkney SMEs represent 81.8% of private sector employment across its inhabited islands. Invoice payments are clearly unaffected by their remoteness. Small businesses in Kirkwall and Lerwick – Orkney and Shetland’s largest settlements – are some of the most reliable payers in the UK. It’s no wonder a 2016 survey found 56% of Shetland startups have a lifespan of at least 5 years, making it the best location in the UK for startup survival.
Late payment common across central London, the Midlands, the North
Areas of central London, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, and the Midlands made the list of least reliable areas. These towns and cities tend to be more densely populated with startups and SMEs, meaning more competition, more costly overheads, and possibly more reasons to delay payments to protect cash flow.
There is a combination of cultural, geographical, and economic reasons why people in more rural areas have better scores than businesses based in London and other urban areas. Businesses in a smaller community are more likely to pay their suppliers on time because they’re more likely to know them and becoming known for unreliability could be really damaging to their business in such a small world.
For small businesses and sole traders in the ten highest risk locations, dealing with late payers can be time-consuming and frustrating. Late payments can damage their cash flow and prevent growth, making it harder to win new business, and pay for essential resources. Financial stress can be emotionally draining for business owners and freelancers, affecting their ability to pay their business’ bills as well as their own. They also might be forced to let staff go, or even shut down for good.
When a business delays payment because of cash flow issues, they create cash flow issues for their suppliers too. Those suppliers might then delay paying their own invoices, and on and on it goes.
Brexit uncertainty is having impact on small businesses across Britain. While negotiations continue, every businesses need to make sure it’s doing everything possible to manage cash flow, prevent late payments, and stay prosperous in order to cope with whatever the deal or no deal delivers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Inna Kaushan is co-founder of Solna, a smart invoicing platform powered by credit score data. Solna speeds up the invoicing and payment process for freelancers and small businesses. Through leveraged credit data that is overlaid on the platform’s invoicing and reporting functionality, users get a clear picture of their customer’s financial health and their overall exposure to risk. The system’s automated credit control functionality automatically chases overdue invoices – freeing up time and ensuring faster payment. www.solna.io