IPSE reveal the top 10 late-paying UK businesses – and some shocking stats for freelancers

Late payments put a big strain on freelancers. This is fairly common knowledge, but the extent of it is now being revealed in new stats from The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

  • 23% of freelancers have used their credit card or overdraft because their clients haven't paid on time.
  • 21% have used up the majority of their savings to cover late payments.
  • 18% have waited over three months for an invoice to be paid.

The 10 latest paying large companies in the UK

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) is one of the best organisations for collating important and illuminating stats about the self-employed industry in the UK.

The organisation recently accessed publicly available information from large companies and limited liability partnerships in the UK, which have been required to report payment practices to the government since April 2017. This includes how late they pay their suppliers, freelancers, and other independent contractors:

  • Minster Law Limited (469 days)
  • Sutton Maintenance Limited (395 Days)
  • Canary Wharf Limited (327 Days)
  • Publicis Media Exchange Limited (278 Days)
  • Eni Elgin/Franklin Limited (251 Days)
  • Isg Interior Services Group Uk Limited (249 Days)
  • Ernst & Young (Asia-Pacific)
  • Services Limited (192 Days)
  • Arriva Rail North Limited (177 Days)
  • Rank Digital Limited (145 Days)
  • Marken Limited (141 Days)

The extent of late payment by SMEs is unknown

Smaller businesses aren't required to report their payment practices so the reliability of their invoice payments isn't clear. However, previous stats from IPSE demonstrate that two thirds of self-employed people have dealt with late payments, so it's clearly affecting the majority.

SMEs are also more likely to have cash flow issues when they're paid late, whereas larger corporations can often weather the storm, which can create a 'knock-on effect' of being paid late and subsequently paying their own suppliers late.

The average freelancer is owed £5,230 in late payments

The late payment crisis isn't a case of a couple of hundred here and there - the average freelancer was owed £5,140 in 2020 and this has risen to £5,230 in 2022. It goes without saying that this is a significant amount of money which could be covering freelancers' bills, rent, childcare costs, food, fuel, energy bills, and the things that make life enjoyable like holidays and time off.

The cost of living crisis makes fixing this even more timely.

Late payments are affecting freelancers' mental health

The strain of repeatedly not being paid on time, and the various financial and professional consequences, is taking a toll on freelancers' mental health:

  • 49% have felt stressed or anxious
  • 31% have felt less productive
  • 28% have lost sleep over worry
  • 26% have lost confidence personally and professionally

5 recommendations from IPSE to reduce late payments for the self-employed

IPSE has five core suggestions for how to reduce the problem of late payments for the self-employed and small businesses. The organisation's hope is that more clarity and regulation will make a big difference to how long invoices are delayed.

  1. More powers and resources for the Small Business Commissioner, an independent public body set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment.
  2. Make the Prompt Payment Guide law and establish a standard payment term of 30 days.
  3. Encourage private businesses to adopt public sector payment practice
  4. Build a UK Prompt Payment Index
  5. Raise awareness of businesses’ late payment rights

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