Late payments: SME voice


“When I was working freelance as a social media consultant I would work with up to 20 clients at any one time. Due to the nature of the business, I also used other freelancers to support me in times when I was busy. I operated on a 30-day payment term, so expected to be paid within the next month.

“I had very bad experiences where I had to chase clients for up to six months to pay an invoice. It was embarrassing, awkward, and sometimes ruined relationships. In that line of work it was important for me to make a good impression with clients so that they can recommend me, so chasing payment is not something I liked doing.

“Clients that don’t pay on time also make me not want to work with them again. When I was not paid on time, it put pressure on me as I had other freelancers to pay and business costs such as desk space, internet, stationery and travel. Luckily my business was run at a relatively low cost, but the stress of not being paid on time and how long it takes to chase late payments is not practical to deal with.”

Alison Battisby, social media consultant

“As a company that deals with the consequences of late payment every day we are always pleased to see the government taking the problem seriously, but we do have some reservations over the latest plans for a ‘Late Payment Tsar’.

“Firstly and perhaps most importantly, will this new Tsar have the legislative backing to give it the authority it will need to take on the worst of the worst, or will it be a toothless service relying on the negotiation skills of civil servants for its effectiveness?

“Given that devolution remains high on the political agenda will the Tsar cover just England, or will its reach stretch across the border into Scotland and Wales?

“Our concern is that unless this new service is backed by UK-wide legislation and a significant budget, it may just end up as yet another governmental white elephant, a soundbite scheme that lacks the means or the money to pursue its stated goal.”

Adam Home, Collections & Partnerships Manager, Safe collection