A new campaign has been launched to outlaw late payments in a bid to save hundreds of Peterborough companies.
Called #PayFair, the initiative aims to make Peterborough a no-tolerance city for the late payment of bills among companies.
It asks firms to commit to paying on time.
Figures show that 620 Peterborough companies closed last year - 20 per cent of those due to insolvency caused by late payment of bills.
The campaign was officially launched at a gathering of business leaders at regeneration company Opportunity Peterborough’s Bondholder breakfast.
It is idea of Maurice Power, managing director of Ferguson Financial Solicitors, of Fengate.
He said: “One in seven businesses in the east of England have invoices that are more than 30 days overdue – that’s almost 1,000 businesses around the city.
“Peterborough is a great place to build a company, but the fact that 600 are forced to close every year is very sad and unnecessary.
“If we can make #PayFair a success, businesses in the city will prosper and there’ll be more work for everyone. I urge every Peterborough business to get involved.”
To sign up visit www.payfairpbo.com There are three commitments. To pay suppliers’ invoices within the agreed terms, that 90 day payment terms are excessive and to negotiate for fairer ones from suppliers, to chase debts and respect others that do too
Mr Power said: “I’ve seen too many firms close because of late payment and it’s a problem that’s so simple to avoid.”
“Small businesses don’t have the time or expertise to chase their debts, which is why they’re so often exploited.
“We want Peterborough to lead the charge for Britain’s small and medium sized enterprises and #PayFair.”
In return for signing up, companies receive a supporters’ pack with debt advice and other useful information, occasional updates and an invitation to a networking event later in the year.
Peterborough’s business community reached 6,900 companies in 2014 - up 300 on the previous year and included the launch of 990 new companies.
But 620 Peterborough businesses closed their doors that year.
Twenty per cent of corporate insolvencies are caused by late payments, many local business closures are avoidable if customers simply pay their bills on time.
Mr Power said: “We advise local clients on how best to handle late payments and it’s shocking to see how prevalent this is in the city.
“We’re calling for a culture change in 2016.
“If we want business to really thrive in Peterborough, everyone needs to pay their suppliers fairly and encourage their customers to do the same.”