Data shows more than 306,000 overdue invoices in Northern Ireland


LATE-payers may force hundreds of already struggling and cash-strapped small businesses in the north to collapse, according to insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.

It says analysis by Creditsafe shows that 306,078 invoices were overdue in Northern Ireland in the third quarter of this year – an increase of 6.9 per cent from the quarter two total of 286,357.

And the debt burden of businesses in the north has been increasing steadily since the beginning of the year, rising from 100,247 unpaid bills in July to 101,995 in August and 103,836 in September.

More than 27,400 Northern Irish firms reported that they had outstanding invoices on their books in Q3 – a figure that peaked at 9,273 in September.

James Neill, regional chair of R3, said: “Late payment is a growing issue in Northern Ireland. Headwinds such as material and energy cost inflation, interest rates and supply issues are heightening the pressure on working capital for many corporates and cash-flow challenges are beginning to surface.

“For small businesses that rely on regular income, even if just one client fails to pay, or there is a delay in payment, that can have a serious effect – and in some cases, may mean they become financially distressed.”

Mr Neill, who heads up advisory services at HNH, added: “I would urge any firms in Northern Ireland worried about the impact of late payments or are worried about their ability to pay their invoices to seek professional advice.

“There are many steps that can be taken to support businesses, but they can only be taken if you move quickly and act before the issue spirals.”