Consistently undervalued creative sectors owed more than £1 billion

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Nearly half of all businesses in the creative industries were paid late last year, with an average total owed of £1.1 billion at any one time.

The data, collected by MarketInvoice, displays clearly a problem in the sector many are aware of - that of a consistent reluctance to pay the true value of creative work, and its perception as a easy target for slow or non-payment.

In 2018, 48% of creative businesses - on the whole small organisations made up of just a few creatives - were paid late. The average invoice totaling a cost of £38,137 was paid 13 days late, with larger companies 10% more likely to pay a service provider late than smaller ones (41% of which did so).

For the country's 284,000 creative businesses, which contribute a total of £102 billion to the UK economy, late payment rate seems to fluctuate wildly year-on-year. The worst year recorded by MarketInvoice over the past five was 2015, during which 66% of invoices were paid late. In 2017, 64% were late.

With many companies working against a gap in income anyway due to longer and longer payment terms, the fact that up to two-thirds of all invoices could reasonably go unpaid for up to a fortnight is worrying for many small businesses.