EACH year small businesses in the UK write off a staggering £9bn in unpaid invoices.

SMEs are owed an average of £64,000 in late payments and 58 per cent say late or unpaid invoices are putting their businesses at risk of failure.

And for many businesses, the start of a new calendar year is when unpaid debts can hit hardest as a variety of bills need to be paid in January.

Newport-based independent solicitors Bellavia & Associates is urging businesses to make debt recovery their new year resolution for 2019.

Managing director Zep Bellavia said: “Statistics show there is a drop-off in new debt recovery actions over the Christmas period, perhaps because it is the season of goodwill.

“But cash is king for businesses, particularly smaller ones, and the start of a new year is a good time to be tighter and better with credit control and recovering debts – not least because January is the month in which we see many business failures.”

Mr Bellavia said: “There is a myth that using a lawyer to recover debts is expensive. Bad debt is expensive and we know all there is to know about recovering cash.

“Many of our clients do not end up paying for our services as we recover over and above the original debt.

“Our specialist services such as freezing third party bank accounts are relatively inexpensive and provide a quick means of getting paid or at least of providing up to date information that can inform the debt recovery process.

“Credit is now more difficult to come by and credit ratings are more important than they were 10 years ago. That means CCJs can have a far more detrimental effect on debtors.

“We find that many debtors pay up soon after we have contacted them on behalf of our clients because they don’t want court judgements against their names or to pay the extras that we can charge them.

“We also deliver health checks on the credit control and debt recovery processes of businesses.”