Get 50% off our limited company packages for your first three months

Knowledge from Crunch - love accounting

What interest can I charge on late payments?

Posted by Tom West on Oct 25th, 2018 | Get paid

What interest can I charge on late payments? Image of a paid invoice circled in red - Crunch

Want to know what interest you can charge on late payments when working as a freelancer, contractor, or small business owner? This article explains what the rules are, and a few ways to get your money from difficult clients.

Get paid what you’re owed

Cash flow is a very personal issue for freelancers, contractors and small businesses, and can sometimes mean the difference between making and missing this month’s rent, or even being able to afford to eat. Your clients might not give two hoots about your financial concerns, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.

Fortunately, the EU’s Late Payments Directive gives you the power you need to take action on unpaid invoices, allowing you to include additional charges in the amount you claim back from a tardy client.

It’s best practice to agree strict payment deadlines (as well as any late payment penalties) before you begin working for a new client. However, depending on the nature of your business, you might not always do so.

It’s common practice to set the payment deadline as 30 days from the date the contract is completed (meaning the day you deliver the goods or services you were hired for), even if no payment schedule is decided upon before work begins.

That means there should be no doubt over when your invoice is due to be settled unless you agree to longer terms upfront. Regardless, there’s no reason you should be forced into accepting your client’s payment terms retrospectively if they’re too long to be practical.

What additional costs can I claim?

There are three costs you are allowed to add to overdue invoices.

Statutory interest at 8% above the Bank of England base rate can be added onto the most recent of either December 31st or June 30th.

For example, if you’re in the first six months of the year and the base rate on December 31st was 0.75%, you can charge interest at 8.75% from the day the invoice became overdue. You’ll need to send a new invoice showing the amount you are adding.

For reference, the Bank of England base rate was reduced to 0.1% in March 2020.

Fixed fees can also be added to the total amount owed:

  • £40 for debts up to £999.99
  • £70 from £1,000 to £9,999.99
  • £100 for £10,000 and above.

If the cost of chasing your payment is greater than the fixed fee you’re eligible to claim, you can also claim back the extra expense as ‘reasonable costs’, which should mean you are never left out of pocket for chasing a payment.

The fees for debt collection (a service Crunch can provide – see section below) are considered reasonable costs.

Still having trouble getting paid?

If you’re struggling with a non-paying client, download our series of late payment reminders and get that invoice paid. Choose from ‘polite nudge’, ‘firm reminder’ or ‘final notice’.

You can also contact Crunch Collections to recover unpaid invoices cost-effectively, without alienating your clients. Our standard fees for debt collection in the UK depend on how overdue your invoice is, starting from just 5%.

There are no up-front or hidden fees – you only pay once we’ve retrieved the money you’re owed.

Get 50% off three months of accountancy heaven!

Refreshingly simple online accounting software. Expert accountants whenever you need them, half price limited company accounting for your first three months.

Join Crunch Chorus:
The free community for the self-employed

You'll get access to a range of benefits, such as invoice software, jargon-free business guides, great networking opportunities, discounts, plus much more

Useful tools and resources

Business guides

From understanding expenses to starting a limited company, we've a range of jargon-free business guides for you to download and keep.

Invoicing software and templates

Create, send and store sole trader invoices in a snap with our free invoice software. You can also download a selection of invoice templates for all business types.

Take-home pay calculator

Use our Take-Home Pay Calculator to work out your true earnings and see if you could save money with a different company set up.

Need help with your accountancy?

Join 11,000 clients who trust our advice, support, and leading accountancy software for their business. All the support and advice you need, wherever you need it. Speak to an expert today on 0333 311 0800 to find out more about our bespoke packages.

    Find out more