Sheffield crowned 'outstanding invoice capital'

Sheffield has been pinpointed on the UK map as the most affected area for freelancers saddled with late-paying clients.

Only 29% of invoices sent by the city’s freelancers and other micro-businesses in the last year got paid on time, found accounting platform FreeAgent.

This compares poorly to the platform’s supporting finding that across the whole of the UK, 51% of invoices sent by such one-person traders get paid on time.

But this quite low national average is put to shame by Manchester and Leeds, where 79% and 76% of business soloists get their invoices settled on or around the payment deadline.

“Even in Manchester, where late payment is least prevalent, there are still many businesses who aren’t being paid on time,” reflected FreeAgent’s Ed Molyneux.

“And we’re not just talking about clients taking an extra week or two to pay -- this includes chronic late payers who sit on invoices for months, as well as those who just don’t pay at all.”

A former freelancer, Molyneux is therefore pleased that the government is recruiting a Small Business Commissioner (or ‘late payment tsar’) to tackle the problem.

“[But] this process has dragged on for a considerable amount of time”, he said.

“I fear that whoever is appointed will have limited power to actually punish companies who routinely pay late, aside from just naming and shaming them.”

To come up with its invoice findings, FreeAgent said it reviewed data from a sample of its users and analysed hundreds of thousands of invoices that they sent to clients in 2016.

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