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Late payments ‘soar’ as pressure grows on suppliers

Businesses may struggle to access credit as operating costs hit their highest levels since 2008 and as late payments soar, a leading insurer has warned.

Credit is set to become more expensive and in shorter supply as companies become slower in making payments, according to Allianz, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies.

Its analysts warned that suppliers increasingly were operating as de facto banks to their clients, which raised liquidity risks and pushed more companies into problems with cashflow.

Operational costs as a proportion of turnover have hit their highest level since the financial crisis and late payments continued to rise last year, with nearly a fifth of businesses worldwide reporting that typically they were paid for their services after 90 or more days.

The rise in late payments is one of many factors that have led to the rising cost of running a business, Maxime Lemerle, lead analyst for insolvency research at Allianz, said, adding that “lower growth, higher inflation, the higher cost of financing and more non-payments have all contributed”.

Interest rates have risen worldwide as central banks race to tackle inflation driven by the jump in wholesale energy prices after the pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine. The rise in the cost of running a business has slowed the pace of the post-pandemic recovery for many countries. Britain now faces a liquidity gap of £570 million, with a global liquidity gap of £24.2 trillion, according to the report.

Figures published by Bibby Financial Services, which provides financial services to small and mid-sized businesses, found the average level of “bad debt”, whereby a company suffers because clients fail to pay the full sum invoiced, had risen by 61 per cent in the past year. Smaller companies have £16,641 of bad debt on average, up from £10,329 last spring. Six in ten businesses said it was taking longer for customers to pay invoices in full.

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Late payments ‘soar’ as pressure grows on suppliers

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