Small firms face £9k bill to collect late payments Annual research by Bacs Payment Schemes shows that small businesses in the UK face a bill of £6.7bn to collect money they are owed by other companies, up from £2.6bn in 2017. The cost, based on staff time and interest on borrowing, comes to an average of £9,000 for each firm. The report showed that £13bn was outstanding to the country’s 5.7m SMEs, compared with £14bn last year, and more than a third are waiting two months beyond agreed terms for payment, up from a fifth last year. The number of SMEs experiencing late payments overall increased from 37% in 2017 to 43% in 2018. The average amount owed was £17,000. Over a quarter of SME owners surveyed said they in turn had been forced to withhold payments to suppliers, and 28% have had to lower their own salaries to conserve cash.