One in ten small business owners are now owed more than £100,000 in late payments – while more than one in five are owed more than £25,000.
The figures come from a comprehensive survey of more than 1000 UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which was commissioned by insurance company Zurich.
It found that almost two thirds of SMEs now experience regular delays of more than one month on payments which are already more than 30 days overdue.
Additionally, almost half of small businesses quizzed said that they were regularly left waiting up to three months on late payments – while one in ten said that they were used to waiting anywhere up to six months.
Collectively, Zurich estimates that Britain’s SMEs are currently owed a grand total of £44.6 billion in late payments.
Of the businesses and decision-makers quizzed, almost two in five told the insurer that late payments have had a worrying impact on their company’s cash flow.
Meanwhile, two thirds of small businesses agreed that late payments are leading towards an increasing number of SMEs being forced to close down.
A separate study carried out by insolvency trade body R3 towards the end of last year found that late payments ‘played a major part’ in 20 per cent of all business failures in 2015/16.