The Prompt Payment Code (PPC) has had a positive impact on how quickly large firms pay their bills, research suggests.
The government launched the PPC four years ago this week to encourage big businesses to pay their suppliers on time.
Despite research by BACS suggesting that late payments to SMBs are at an all-time high, PPC has had a significant impact over the past four years, with large firms paying up almost nine days earlier than in 2008, according to Experian.
Four years ago, so-called "giant" firms with more than 1,000 staff took 43.89 days beyond terms (DBT) to pay their bills. This has now fallen 8.59 days to 35.30 days.
The amount of time it takes very large firms, with 251 to 1,000 staff, to pay up has fallen by 4.26 days to 25.93 days over the same period.
Experian also reviewed the difference between the average payment times of signatories and non-signatories to the PCC over each of the past four years. Those who had signed up were found to pay five days earlier than those who had not – and are also settling up 12 days quicker than four years ago.
Max Firth, UK managing director of Experian's Business Information Services division, said: "The UK's biggest firms have made significant progress in terms of improvement to their payment times compared with their smaller counterparts."
However, Experian's rosy view of late payments is tempered somewhat by research released today by BACS, which found that the amount owed to UK SMBs stands at £33.6bn – the highest figure since it began examining the trend in September 2007.
Large companies were found to be the worst offenders, responsible as they are for 48 per cent of SMB late payment debt.
The figure is up on 12 months ago when it stood at £30.4bn, with the average amount overdue to SMBs now at £39,000.
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