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A newly published report puts the total amount owed to UK SMEs on overdue invoices at a stratospheric £100 billion or more – leaving a quarter at risk of business insolvency.

The astonishing figure is two to three times that normally seen in late payment reports, such as those compiled by credit reference agency Experian.

It has been calculated by invoice financing and e-invoicing brand Tungsten, based on a survey of 1,000 companies.

The average respondent was waiting on £40,857 from customers, of which £20,937 was overdue – scaling this up to the 5.2 million SMEs in the UK as a whole, that’s an estimated £212 billion outstanding with £109 billion overdue.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) said they have faced business insolvency due to late payment, rising to 32% in the technology sector.

Richard Hurwitz, CEO of Tungsten, said: “The creation of the new role of Small Business Commissioner shows that the government is taking the problem seriously, but it’s clear that there’s work still to be done to ensure that SMEs are paid in a timely fashion.”