United Kingdom: growth outlook despite increasing risks

Payment Practices Barometer

  • United Kingdom
  • Construction,
  • Metals,
  • Services,
  • Steel

24th November 2021

As the UK economy rebounds from the double shock of Brexit and the pandemic, businesses seeking growth should take steps to protect their accounts receivable from the impacts of trade credit risks.


In this year’s Payment Practices Barometer survey, we polled businesses in the United  Kingdom’s construction, construction materials, steel/metals and services industries. Confidence in all of these industries is strong with the vast majority anticipating growth next year. Insolvency levels have remained low in the UK this year, with many businesses cushioned by the government’s extensive fiscal support measures. However, this may be the calm before the storm. Atradius research indicates insolvencies in the UK may rise to as much as 33% next year. Businesses trading amid such heightened insolvency risks should take steps to protect their accounts receivable.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Businesses polled across the UK transacted 53% of their B2B sales on credit. They most often offered credit to stimulate sales growth, especially repeat businesses with existing B2B customers.
  • 44% of the total value of B2B sales were reported overdue this year and 8% were written off as uncollectable.
  • 70% of the businesses polled in the UK told us they retained credit risk in-house, ideally setting aside funds to offset potential bad debts.
  • 56% of businesses polled in the UK plan to use credit insurance next year. This compares to last year’s 39%.
  • Most of the businesses we spoke to expressed optimism about the coming months. 82% told us they anticipate growth next year. However, they also pointed to ongoing uncertainty concerning the pandemic and its continued potential impacts on both the domestic and global economies as a downside risk.
  • A significant number of the business polled in the UK told us they plan to offer B2B credit to finance customers in financial distress.
  • When asked whether the pandemic responses had resulted in any permanent impacts to their business, 52% told us that they had adopted digital innovations, particularly in the
    areas of enabling home working and ecommerce. Many businesses also cited changes to customer demand.

Interested in getting to know more?

The Payment Practices Barometer report for the UK gives insights into B2B payment practices and businesses' approach to the management of customer credit risk in the following local industries:

  • Construction
  • Construction materials
  • Services
  • Steel/Metals

For a complete overview, please download the full country report available in the Related documents section below. The Statistical Appendix and regional Payment Practices Barometer survey results are also available free to download.

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