Overdue invoices in Scotland hit 16-month high, R3 research finds

Richard Bathgate, Scotland Chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3

THE number of overdue invoices in Scotland reached a 16-month high in February, according to new research from R3, the UK’s insolvency and restructuring trade body.

R3’s analysis of data provided by Creditsafe shows that business in Scotland had 428,824 unpaid invoices on their books last month – the highest monthly total since October 2022’s figure of 593,114.

Overdue invoices in Scotland also increased by 3.4% in February 2024 when compared to February 2023’s figure of 414,575. Scotland was one of only two places in the UK that saw a yearly increase, preceded only by the West Midlands (22.3% rise).

Richard Bathgate, Chair of R3 in Scotland, commented: “Although overdue invoice numbers in Scotland have fallen substantially compared to October 2022’s high point, the yearly rise is concerning and suggests that businesses in Scotland are struggling with paying their invoices promptly and with cash flow management much more than they were 12 months ago.

“This is likely to be a knock-on effect of the cost-of-living crisis, increases in energy, fuel, products, materials, interest rates and requests for salary increases from staff.”

Despite the increase in overall overdue invoice numbers, the number of companies with overdue invoices on their books in Scotland fell year-on-year in February, from 32,074 in February 2023 to 30,362 in February 2024.

Richard, who is a Restructuring Partner at Johnston Carmichael in Aberdeen, continued: “While fewer businesses are failing to meet their payment deadlines than this time last year, it’s very clear late payment is still a real and serious issue for a high number of businesses in Scotland – at every stage of the supply chain.

“My message to any business owners that are struggling with unpaid bills is simple: seek help from a qualified source as early as you can. It’s natural to feel anxious when dealing with money worries, but taking steps to address the issue will help ease your worries and will afford you more time and more options for handling your concerns than if you’d waited for them to get worse.”

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