More than 440,000 small firms could be forced out of business by the late payment crisis, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
An FSB study of more than 1,200 business owners found that close to one in three has seen late payment of invoices increase over the last three months, with a further 8% experiencing other forms of poor payment practice.
As a result, 8% of small businesses say late payments are now threatening the viability of their business. This equates to 440,000 of the estimated 5.5 million small businesses in the UK.
FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: 'After another frustrating festive season, small firms are facing flashpoint after flashpoint. Today, it's a fresh wave of admin for importers and exporters – in three months' time it will be a hike to the jobs tax that is national insurance contributions, a rise in dividend taxation, business rates bills and an increase in the national living wage.
'On top of that, operating costs are surging – many will soon be trying to strike energy deals without the clout of big corporates, or the protections afforded to consumers.'