Belfast Telegraph

Late payers put small firms at risk

More small traders are facing extinction because big business continues to deliberately delay payments, it has been warned.

Four in 10 small and medium-sized firms were forced to wait three months or more to be paid by large companies and government agencies since the start of the year, a poll reveals.

Isme, which represents smaller businesses, said its Spring SME Credit Watch Survey clearly shows the "disastrous predicament" of many vulnerable traders.

The survey of 610 firms shows that average payment period in Ireland remains 71 days, similar to the end of last year and that more than one in 10 are waiting over 120 days. Ulster businesses wait longest to be paid, on average 79 days, compared to 68 days in Dublin, the study adds.

Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive, demanded the Government bring in a fair payment charter and name and shame late payers as smaller firms are being "thrown to the wolves".

"All businesses, and in particular small enterprises, must be allowed to predict their cash flow with some certainty," he said.

"However, because of abusive dominance of big business, cash flow in the entire SME sector is drying up and this, coupled with the lack of available and affordable credit from the bailed out banks, is putting many small businesses at risk, with the resulting threat of closures and job losses."

Mr Fielding added: "Because of this market failure, Government intervention is required and quickly."

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