Back in May last year I did some PR for the Prompt payment Directory and as part of that I ran a survey which looked at the human cost of late payment. The results were pretty startling with 29% of business owners saying they had suffered from some form of mental illness such as stress or anxiety.
Not only that but 36% had forgone their salary at one point or another while 21% had been unable to pay their mortgage or had to sell their home.
Losing something as fundamental as your home or having to take your children out of a school because a customer hasn’t paid your invoices is about as rough as it can get and yet this is happening all the time to a large number of business owners throughout the country.
Around the same time as I did my research study the fsb also published some research of their own basically saying that late payment was responsible for the closure of 50,000 businesses a year and cost the U.K. economy £2.5bn
Those too are pretty sobering numbers and yet still they didn’t really make national news.
Now Carillion has imploded and all of a sudden the nation is very aware of the cost of late or non payment and how it can affect small businesses, and yet this has been going on for years.
The first thing that comes to mind is that as a result of Carillion’s mess there will be some parents that will have some some very worrying times ahead of them and their children shouldn’t have to suffer for the crap job that Carillion’s top brass did in running that company.
The second thing that comes to mind is whether or not the chronic issue of late payment will move up a notch on the ladder of public and political consciousness and stay there or whether it will quietly slip back down again and continue life as the iceberg issue I wrote about in this post a couple of years ago.
We are having our “Titanic” moment in the context of late payment and as a very sad result there will be some families (hopefully not many) that will be devastated by it. We’ll need to remember this moment and redouble our efforts in terms of corporate governance and supplier due diligence to make sure it doesn’t happen again and keep the self employment dreams of millions of talented people alive for many years to come.