The chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak means well but the truth is UK businesses are in a crisis not seen since Black Friday in 1989. And coronavirus crisis is likely to be worse as it is global.

“Since business fell off a cliff on March 23rd when the lockdown began,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “Members of our credit circle have been contacting us saying their customers have stopped paying their invoices. They send out emails saying they’ve shut down during the lockdown, won’t answer the phone or respond to emails. It’s destroying really good businesses and solid business relationships.”

On March 25th, JD Wetherspoons contacted its suppliers by email to announce it would not be paying them until its pubs were reopened as it also applied to furlough its 43,000 staff. Despite the outcry by the unions, its suppliers, CAMRA, a cross party group of 95 MPs and even Piers Morgan of ITV’s Good Morning the pub chain is not alone in the practice.

Bland emails claiming to support the NHS – but it’s false

“We’ve had members emailing us with statements from their customers saying the same thing,” said Paul Carrotte of ICSM Debt Collection. “They get a bland email saying they are following the Government’s guide lines on coronavirus by closing down until the crisis ends, protecting the NHS and saving lives and would you believe it – not paying any invoices. It beggars belief as they also say they will not be answering emails or phone calls. There’s no attempt at negotiation or an explanation. Instead they are using the lockdown to get an extra 90 days of credit.”

ICSM Credit’s free offer of help

Ian Carrotte said the practice of not paying invoices was self-defeating as firms engaged in the practice would also not get paid.

“We are offering all firms a free temporary legal letter membership at ICSM Credit,” he said, “as a way of helping to unlock the problem. Our legal letters have a success rate of around 87% within 14 days. Companies pay those who shout the loudest and a legal letter shouts louder than a gentle reminder. If that doesn’t work our debt collection department have one of the best success rates in the UK in getting our member’s their money – even in times like these.”

The fashion stores New Look, Oasis and Warehouse, and the car manufacturer Nissan, are amongst a growing list of firms who have effectively stopped paying suppliers during the emergency. Ian Carrotte said it was a mistake as it sours relationships and potentially forces suppliers out of business. He said the best thing to do if payment is a problem is to be honest.

“Be upfront with your supplier. Give them a clear explanation of your situation, and give them a time frame when you can pay them (if that’s likely). They will thank you for the clear communication, and it will preserve the relationship when things improve,” he said. “As for those chasing payment and not getting anywhere call us as ICSM and we’ll set up a temporary free account and see if our legal letters do the trick. The worst thing is to do nothing as June is a long way away.”

Federation of Small Business agrees

Mike Cherry, National Chairman, Federation of Small Business said: “The power to help overcome the sudden loss of cash, brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, lies with other businesses and their ability to speed up payments to keep the cash flowing. I cannot think of a more desperate time when this business-to-business support has been needed more than ever. In the face of this national emergency we are seeing some businesses stepping up to keep their suppliers cash flow healthy and in business. We need more to do the same.”

The Small Business Commissioner set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment said that in normal times a third of payments to small businesses are late. The commissioner said that if small businesses were paid on time, this could boost the economy by an estimated £2.5 billion annually. But during the present crisis late payment could destroy the economy and return the nation to the situation in 1989 when Black Friday heralded a four year long recession.

How they work: FREE Legal Letters with ICSM Credit

Contact ICSM Credit by phone or email and ask for a free temporary membership to use their FREE legal letters. Once your account is set up follow the online instructions on how to complete a legal letter – it’s easy and quick – and email to your debtor. If they fail to pay then there is the option of using ICSM Credit’s highly effective debt collection service.

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How to send a legal letter:

ICSM Credit

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website or email Ian at on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website or send an email to

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