Reporter 431, 15 February 1999

Credit crew puts Government on late payment black list

Award-winning research in the Leeds University Business School has revealed that the Government pays its bills later than almost every other UK business surveyed. Small businesses and very large businesses were also tardy with invoices.

Professor Nick Wilson began the in-depth study of the credit management of 500 companies last year within the new Credit Management Research Centre.

The companies are surveyed every three months and the latest results suggest that developing a long-term, friendly relationship with customers is the best way of getting bills paid on time.

Many of the businesses questioned believed the customers own cash flow problems were responsible for late payments. The issue of late payments caused a storm recently with nearly 80 per cent of small business leaders polled calling for the resignation of CBI president Sir Clive Thompson, over his company Rentokil's approach to payments.

Professor Wilson presented the results in a report judged 'Best Paper' to the recent Institute of Small Business Affairs conference at the University of Durham.

The companies were also questioned about the impact they expect the 'Millennium bug' to have. They spent an average £519,000 modifying their systems.

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