Several police forces across the UK have come under fire over the past week. Reports released under the Freedom of Information Act show many constabularies to be late invoice payers.

The government have repeatedly issued directives which detail best practice in settling invoices. They state that all payment should be made promptly. However, many businesses who are direct suppliers to police forces across the UK have been kept waiting more than two months for their invoices to be settled.

Of course, this is not to say that all police forces keep their suppliers waiting. On the contrary, many police forces are actually very prompt payers, settling invoices within a matter of days. Information gained from the Forum of Private Businesses actually suggests that some of the UK’s police forces settle more than three quarters of their invoices within 10 days with the remainder paid within 30 days. However, if you look at the flip side of the coin there are also forces that settle just 1% of their invoices within ten days of receipt, with over half still outstanding within a thirty day time-scale.

Alongside this staggering data is another research survey, which has found that SMEs usually accept late payment rather than placing demands on their customers. There is a fear amongst 17% of those surveyed that legal action would be too expensive, while 10% do not want to miss out on the possibility of repeat business. Of course, the knock on effect of non-payment for SMEs is huge. The worst-case scenario is that a small business could effectively be forced to close as a result of the disruption to its cash flow.

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