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Payment times improve but more needs to be done

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has welcomed new data which shows that late payment performance is beginning to improve.

The latest Dun & Bradstreet report shows that late payments fell during the second quarter of 2017 by 4.6 per cent, while prompt payments rose sharply.

On average, 63.8 per cent of Australian businesses paid their bills on time. However, just 12 per cent of ASX-listed companies pay on time compared with almost 34 per cent of non-ASX-listed companies.

“This is very disappointing as public companies should be leading by example,” Ms Carnell said.

“It’s pleasing that some progress has been made since the ASBFEO inquiry into payment times and practices reported in March but more needs to be done.

“One of the biggest issues facing small business is delayed payments by big business and governments.

“Cash flow is king to small business; late payments can be the difference between success and insolvency.

“Overseas jurisdictions have demonstrated that faster payments through supply chains will free up cash flow and stimulate investment, jobs and growth.”

Ms Carnell said the Dun & Bradstreet report also reveals that Western Australia has the slowest payment times and the worst-performing sectors are wholesaling and manufacturing.

She said ASBFEO is developing a National Payment Transparency Register to publish businesses payment times and practices rated against a benchmark for good and bad performers.

The Business Council of Australia has established the Australian Supplier Payment Code – a voluntary, industry-led initiative.

For government payments, Ms Carnell said she would continue to push for 15-day payment terms.

“I’m encouraged the NSW Government has undertaken to investigate this,” she said.

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