HSBC Unveils £6bn in SME Lending on UK Economic Recovery
UK SMEs are heavily indebted. Reuters

The average UK SME carried trade debts of £1.3m during 2013, with businesses struggling to secure payment for their goods and services.

A new survey finds that the total UK SME trade debt stands at £6.3tn – almost three times the national GDP.

Those with fewer than 10 staff and turnover of under £2m are burdened with an average trade debt of £68,000, with 12% of such firms in severe debt trouble.

The report was authored by Debt Guard Solicitors, who extrapolated the statistics from Companies House data.

The firm's chief operating officer Mark Burgess called for SMEs to get more support in getting paid, saying: "This research highlights there is a highly varied national trade debt picture emerging within the SME marketplace, created by unpaid and outstanding invoices. In the past, SMEs have often been lumped together when it comes to debt management, but it is clear that micro-SMEs in particular need much greater support in this respect."

Micro SMEs (fewer than 10 staff) in London, the North East and Yorkshire are most likely to be holding trade debt, with businesses in these areas in average debt to the tune of £100,000.

Standard SMEs in the same regions were most indebted in the North West, North East and East Midlands, holding an average £1m in trade debt.