Tradespeople lose over £1,000 a year from withheld customer payments 

Industry News

  • Four in five (79%) have experienced customers refusing to pay for work 
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of tradespeople have written off withheld payments as losses 
  • More than a fifth (23%) say withheld payments have led to difficulties paying employees 

Tradespeople in the UK are losing thousands of pounds every year due to customers withholding payments, and the problem is getting worse, according to new research.

A study by IronmongeryDirect, the leading specialist supplier to the trade, surveyed workers across the country to discover the scale of the problem and how it is impacting businesses.

It found that almost a fifth (19%) of tradespeople experience withheld payments five or more times a year, compared to just 12% when the research was done before in 2021.

Overall, around four in five (79%) say they have encountered customers who refuse to pay.

On average, each individual loses £1,062 of income each year because of such reasons, but many lose far more. One in seven (14%) miss out on over £2,000 a year.

Some tradespeople are more vulnerable than others to the problem. Young tradespeople are more likely to be affected, with Millennial (25-34s) and Gen Z (18-24s) reporting the most instances.

Comparing trades, builders are impacted the most, with an average annual loss of £1,462.

The trades most affected by withheld payments are:

  1. Builders – £1,462
  2. Plasterers – £1,319
  3. Carpenters – £1,304
  4. Bricklayers – £1,100
  5. Window Fabricators – £1,079
  6. Joiners – £1,052
  7. Building Surveyors – £1,001
  8. Locksmiths – £975
  9. Landscapers – £940
  10. Caretakers / Maintenance – £897
  11. Electricians – £815
  12. Scaffolders – £775
  13. Plumbers – £725
  14. Painter Decorators – £699
  15. Roofers – £600

Withheld payments can have serious consequences for trade businesses. Almost a quarter (24%) of tradespeople say they have had to write off some debts as losses, and a similar number (23%) say that this has led to difficulties paying their employees.

Other repercussions include cash flow problems (18%), delays paying suppliers (12%) and difficulties taking on new jobs (15%).

Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager at IronmongeryDirect, said: “Customers withholding payments from tradespeople is a real problem, and it can harm workers and businesses in a wide variety of ways.

“The most common reason why customers don’t pay is that they have their own financial difficulties, but they should not be confirming work with tradespeople if this is the case, as a lot of time, money and effort is wasted. It’s also against the law not to give workers the money they are owed, so we’ve partnered with a business coach to explain your rights.”

To read expert advice on how to handle unpaid customer invoices, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/blog/expert-tips-for-handling-unpaid-invoices   

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