Late payment debts owed to the UK's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) now total £23.4 billion, according to new research from Pay.UK.
A survey conducted by Pay.UK, which runs the BACS direct credit and direct debit payment services, showed that debts due from late payments have soared by over £10 billion from the £13 billion total reported last year.
Over half of SMEs have experienced overdue payments, and the average debt burden per business has increased to £25,000.
Some 78% of SMEs say they are being forced to wait a month beyond agreed payment terms, while another 45% are being kept waiting over two months. In addition, the bill for chasing late payments has now reached £4.4 billion a year.
Commenting on the research, Paul Horlock, CEO of Pay.UK, said: 'It is concerning that so many smaller businesses are struggling because of late payments in 2019, especially as there are so many ways they can now get paid.
'Offering customers a choice of payment or automated options can help remove barriers to make sure a bill is settled on time.'