The latest late payment data from Experian, the global information services company, today revealed that the UK's smallest businesses (those with one or two employees) saw a significant improvement in their payment performance during the first quarter of this year, paying their bills more than 4.5 days faster than in 2012.
During January, February and March this year, one and two-people companies were paying their bills an average of 27.9 days after agreed terms compared to 32.5 days during the same period last year.
Overall, the national average remained stable at 24.7 days beyond terms compared to the first quarter of 2012, when it was 24.8.
All other business sizes saw an increase in the time taken to pay invoices, with the UK's largest businesses (those with more than 501 employees) seeing their payment performance slow by more than two days in the first three months of 2013, standing at 33.9 days beyond terms compared to Q1 2012 when they averaged 31.7 days late.
Max Firth of Experian's Business Information Services division, said: "The marked improvement by the smallest firms is encouraging, but the decline among other businesses is a concern. There is still caution among many firms when it comes to offering business lifelines, and this is impacting on the payment performance of businesses across the UK."