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1-in-5 businesses owed overdue invoices – R3

One-in-five (21%) businesses are owed payment on invoices that are over 30 days past due, according to new research by insolvency trade body R3.

Manufacturing (27%) had the highest rate of businesses that were owed late payments, followed by Services (22%), and Retail and Distribution (13%).
Phillip Sykes, President of R3, says: “The UK’s late payment problem is a persistent one, and puts unnecessary strain on the finances of businesses. Businesses having to wait too long to receive money owed can have a harmful knock-on effect not only on their own business but further down their supply chain too.”
The finding is from R3’s latest Business Distress Index, a long-running survey of business concerns and growth prospects carried out by BDRC Continental.
The latest survey also reveals 30% of businesses are experiencing business expansion, up from 20% in April of this year.
Phillip Sykes continues: “The rise in the proportion of businesses in a position to expand is a positive indicator. However, with businesses looking to expand, cash-flow becomes increasingly important and late payment can needlessly jeopardise access to cash. Being paid late and being paid inconsistently prevents businesses from being able to plan ahead with confidence.”
Business distress remains near record lows, with only 28% of businesses  experiencing any of the key signs of business distress – including decreasing profits, sales volumes, or market shares, the regular use of maximum overdraft facilities, and new redundancies (record low: 24% in April 2015).
At the same time, indicators of business growth also remain near record highs (68%), with 67% of businesses showing at least one indicator of growth. A record high number of businesses are experiencing increased sales volumes (43%).
Larger businesses continue to show more positive signs of growth compared to smaller firms. 83% of larger businesses (250+ employees) are experiencing one or more indicators of growth, compared to 58% of sole traders. 
Share of UK businesses experiencing an indicator of distress
Share of UK businesses experiencing an indicator of growth
  • Research undertaken by BDRC Continental, an award-winning insight agency. Questions were put to 500 UK businesses via BDRC Continental’s monthly Business Opinion Omnibus. Telephone-based interviews with a nationally representative sample of senior financial decision makers across the UK, weighted by size, region and sector. Fieldwork dates 7th to 17th September 2015. 

Notes to editors:

  • R3 is the trade body for Insolvency Professionals and represents the UK’s Insolvency Practitioners.

  • R3 comments on a wide variety of personal and corporate insolvency issues. Contact the press office, or see for further information.

  • R3 promotes best practice for professionals working with financially troubled individuals and businesses; all R3 members are regulated by recognised professional bodies
  • R3 stands for 'Rescue, Recovery, and Renewal' and is also known as the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.