Late payments of business invoices have risen to their highest level for three years, a new report has found.
The study, carried out by Experian, revealed that late invoice settling in the last quarter of 2010 soared by 16 per cent.
This took the average overdue period to 25.7 days.
Delays in paying bills is a strong indicator of stresses within the business system, indicating issues with cash flow.
The fact that payment times had been improving until the final three months of 2010 could be a cause for concern over the general health of the economy.
It is thought, however, that the figures may have been skewed by the severe December weather which affected large numbers of firms and will, inevitably, have had an adverse impact on cash flow.
Jason Mills of Experian said: “More businesses – even financially strong ones – struggled with short-term cash flow issues towards the end of last year.
“These businesses are likely to have been affected to some degree by the bad weather, with many companies unable to operate at full efficiency as employees struggled to get into their offices.”