Late payments affect mental health of small business owners

By Gillian Crotty

It is estimated that a third of all payments to small businesses are made late, and a new survey has looked at the impact on business owners, with 29 per cent of respondents saying they have suffered depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues.

The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that business owners spend on average 1.2 days a month chasing late payments and attempting to recover aged debt. Research commissioned by the Prompt Payment Directory (PPD) looked at the impact of late payments on business owners, and a survey of 1,000 SME owners with cash flow problems as a result of late payments revealed the following:

  • 21 per cent have struggled to pay their mortgage or rent
  • 29 per cent have suffered mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and stress
  • 36 per cent have had to sacrifice their own salary


SME owners described having to use personal savings to pay employee salaries when clients were late to pay, or themselves went into liquidation. Many also shared that they were keeping the extent of their cash flow problems from employees to avoid panic, and from families and friends because they didn't want to let out that their business venture was struggling. A large percentage of SME owners have eventually given up their business as a result of an erratic cash flow that left them unable to manage their personal life.

Late payments have a knock on effect throughout the supply chain meaning small business owners will often be late making payments to each other.

If you are a small business owner in Northern Ireland experiencing late payment or non-payment of invoices from customers, contact one of the debt recovery solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by clicking here to find out about our debt recovery service.