Almost half of SME revenues depend on the business of three top customers, leaving them vulnerable to ‘serious consequences’ if payment is delayed, according to Amicus Commercial Finance.

In an Opinium online poll of 504 SME decision-makers, Amicus found that SMEs’ top three customers on average accounted for 49% of overall revenue.

According to the same poll, 61% of invoices issued by UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are not paid on time, with 16% unpaid after 90 days, and almost half of those still unsettled after six months.

Furthermore, businesses with between 50 and 249 employees were the worst affected, with almost a quarter (24%) of invoices unpaid after the debtor day periods or not at all.

Many firms stated that they relied on having their invoices paid within the debtor day period, with 70% saying it was necessary to prevent a shortage of working capital. 1 in 10 reported they feared their businesses would go bankrupt as a result of late payment.

John Wilde, managing director of Amicus Commercial Finance, said: “Invoice payment terms are all too often ignored and for small firms this can put their cashflow under intolerable pressure, particularly when late payers are also large customers.”