Belfast Telegraph

Small firms hit by delayed payments

Nearly half of small traders in Ireland are struggling to get paid by big business and state agencies, it has been warned.

A survey by representatives, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme), showed 44% of their members were hit with delays of three months or more.

Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive, has demanded the Government takes urgent action to speed up the payments.

"Late payments have always been a problem for small businesses and this has intensified as state bodies and accountancy-led big business take longer and longer to pay," he said.

"When smaller businesses are not being paid on time, they cannot in turn pay their suppliers and the vicious domino effect ends with the smallest and most vulnerable being forced to close down, with the resultant job losses."

The poll of 770 small firms found they wait 73 days on average for payment from their customers.

This was a slight deterioration from the findings of the last report, during the winter, which showed an average 72 day delay.

Isme has demanded a mandatory 60 day payment period on all major transactions, to be halved to 30 days over the next two years. They also want all state agencies and local authorities to be forced to pay up within 15 days, with published reports on their performance.

Mr Fielding claimed delayed payments were deliberate and called for pressure to be brought to bear on big business and state agencies, which he said were the main culprits.

"With the deterioration in late payments across the board, cash flow in the entire small and medium enterprise sector is drying up and this, coupled with the lack of available, affordable credit from the banks, is putting many small businesses at risk, with the resulting threat of closures and job losses," he added.

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