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Brit businesses worst payers

British businesses are considered to be some of the worst payers in Europe, suffering a poor reputation with customers at home and abroad, according to research amongst 1,200 European companies carried out by credit insurer, Atradius.

The Atradius Payment Practices Barometer reveals that 42 per cent of European companies believe that payment practices in the UK are ‘poor’ or ‘average’, the second lowest score of the 12 countries rated. Only Italy has a lower rating.

In addition, 33 per cent of European businesses say they experience frequent payment delays from British customers, who take an average of 63 days to settle their debts. Again, only Italy has a worse rating.

According to the Atradius Barometer, 15 per cent of the European companies surveyed say the UK’s payment practices have worsened over the last six months.

“Poor payment practices seem to be a cultural issue for British businesses where the domestic view is consistent with international perception,” says Will Clark, Atradius’ Regional Director for the UK and Ireland.

“If UK firms want better cash flow they need to improve their entire payment practices - that means chasing up their customers and settling their own bills more quickly.”

The research says that Germany and the Netherlands have some of the best payment reputations in Europe and are more proactive than the UK in protecting themselves from payment risks. Atradius found that 79 per cent of companies in both countries take steps to reduce the risk of bad debts, compared with 70 per cent of British companies.

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