Research by Bacs Payment Schemes has found that more than half (58%) of all small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK say their business has already been affected by the much publicised economic downturn. However, northern-based businesses appear to be bucking the national trend and fairing better than their counterparts in the rest of the country. When questioned in June as part of Bacs’ regular omnibus into the habits of UK corporates, almost half (45%) of SMEs in the north of the UK said they had experienced no visible indicators of the economic slow down that has been so widely reported. Of the UK companies that did say they’re seeing the effects of a pinch, 37% of SME owners claimed projects were taking longer to come to fruition and reported that they had cut spending on areas such as business travel. Almost a third of SMEs (30%) polled confirmed the late payments problem is being exacerbated, with payments overdue coming in even later, indicating that cash flow has become more difficult to manage as the financial climate has tightened in recent months. As a result, over a quarter (28%) said they are now spending more time than ever chasing late payments. At a national level, the culprits for this were found to be other SMEs (41%) and individuals (44%). In comparison, just 34% per cent lay blame at the door of large corporates.
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