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UK SMBs are owed £55bn in outstanding invoices

 The average SMB in the UK is owed £11,000.


A study by Sage Pay has found that small and mid-sized businesses in the UK are currently owed more than £55 billion in unpaid or outstanding invoices. The average business is owed £11,358, with one in five owed more than £30,000.

With 67 per cent of SMB businesses saying they still use paper invoices, the study also discovered that they spend the equivalent of two weeks each year chasing unpaid invoices. For one in ten companies, a third (33 per cent) of invoices are paid late.

“The majority of invoicing is still done via paper and post,” said Simon Black, CEO at Sage Pay. “Given the environment we’re now living in, this process is not only antiquated, it’s actually depriving small and medium businesses of critical revenue. For the smaller businesses in particular, this delay in payment can cause significant problems and can affect the overall performance of the company.”

When it comes to new invoicing methods, mid-sized companies are leading way, with 85% saying they have adopted e-invoicing. 

“Businesses of all size need to look at a more seamless, automated invoicing process so they can focus on running and growing their business – rather chasing money owed or spending their time on book keeping and administration,” said Black.  

In line with the findings of this report, Sage Pay recently announced a new and improved integration with Sage One - Sage’s online accounts service for small and medium-sized businesses.  The full integration allows merchants to send e-invoices to their customers including a ‘Pay Now’ button to ensure a quick and easy payment, with no time wasted chasing unpaid invoices and ultimately improving SMB cashflow.

Online payment data from Sage Pay can also be synced directly into Sage One - the online accounting solution from Sage, instead of manually inputting the information. This automation will help save time for the user, remove the risk of manual errors, ensure that their books are accurate, compliant and up-to-date and provide them with a more accurate appraisal of their financial situation. 

Once connected, the Sage One system will automatically inform the user if there are any new Sage Pay transactions to import into the system every day, saving merchants time and easing the process of accounts reconciliation.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 112 Senior managers with financial responsibility from SMEs (Businesses with less than 250 employees).  The survey was carried out online.

Key Stat:
The average amount of money that senior managers from SMBs stated that are owed to their business is £11,358. According to the Federation of Small Businesses there are 4.95m SMBs in the UK. £11,358 x 4,950,000 = £56.2bn.


About Sage Pay
Sage Pay is Europe’s leading independent payment service provider (PSP) and is one of the most trusted payment brands.  Every year Sage Pay processes billions of pounds worth of secure payments for its 50,000 customers and makes the process of accepting payments online, over the phone, or in person simpler, faster, safer and more profitable for businesses. 

Sage Pay is a subsidiary of FTSE 100 business management software and services company The Sage Group plc. For further information please visit: 

About Sage One
Sage One is the online accounts and payroll service from Sage, the UK’s leading business software provider. Created with start-ups and small business owners in mind, it’s designed to be jargon free, quick and easy-to-use. 24hr telephone and email support from Sage’s award-winning contact centre is also included in the low-cost monthly subscription price:
•    Sage One Cashbook– just £5 per month + VAT
•    Sage One Accounts– just £10 per month + VAT
•    Sage One Accounts Extra– just £25 per month + VAT
•    Sage One Payroll– just £5, £10 or £15 per month + VAT (for 5, 10 or 15 employees).