According to payment systems provider Sage Pay, nearly two-thirds of UK businesses experience late payments of 90 days or more, with invoices worth £55bn ($91.5bn; 66.5bn euros) remaining unpaid or outstanding.

Firms spend on average two weeks a year chasing them.

And in January, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reported that more half of 8,000 surveyed members who provided goods or services to larger private sector businesses had been paid late in the previous 12 months.

“Late payment means reduced profitability, knock-on late payments to suppliers, and reduced business growth,” an FSB spokesman said.

“Thousands of small firms even go bust each year purely because the cash flow dries up, not because there’s anything wrong with the underlying business.”

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