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The Unacceptable Trend of Late Payments

We're sick and tired of late payments for indy workers

At Indycube, we’ve all either been self-employed in the past, or still work independently atop our roles at IC. At one point or another, we’ve all encountered the same problems as you, our users and members, which is what inspired us to launch our Member Benefits Package in the first place.

Our biggest bugbear? Late Payments.

I’m writing this piece not as a member of the indycube team, but as an indy worker. Our Basic Income allowance means that I’m able to work on creative writing projects as well as on communications within the organisation. This has allowed me to complete a poetry collection which will be launched with Parthian in September, attend various workshops and literary events, and run my own creative writing sessions. It’s pretty great - but that’s another story.

In September time last year, I was commissioned to run a creative writing workshop for teens, which was held towards the end of January this year. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the young people and working on new creative pieces with them. However, I was surprised to receive an email, over 6 weeks since sending the invoice for the session, with a complex form attached for me to fill out. (This was presumably so that I could be set up a supplier, and a Purchase Order Number generated, although that wasn’t explained.) This seemed absolutely bizarre to me. The job was commissioned months before the work was carried out, so this form could actually have been sent to me at that point back in September, or at least as an immediate response to the invoice I issued. The information asked for was complex, confusing and mostly ‘N/A’ - what I was able to fill out could have been taken directly from the original invoice I sent, over 6 weeks prior.

Anyway, needless to say I filled out the form, then replied and made a polite but firm comment about the payment being a month overdue. I was told that all invoices needed a purchase order number attached, and so the invoice I had provided was not yet valid. Again, this could have been set in motion weeks, if not months ago. There was no apology for the lack of information about this, nor the massive delay.

Several weeks on, the PO number was finally emailed through to me, at which point I thanked the individual who sent it and asked if anything else was needed, again reminding them that the payment was very late. Another fortnight went by and still no payment in the bank, so I got in touch to ask when the payment would be made. I was told the money would be in my account by April 12th - 12 weeks since I carried out the work, and 11 weeks since the original payment was due.

So, what did this experience teach me? That (most) large organisations have no regard for independent workers, that the finance department held zero respect for me as a supplier, and that the due date of payment on my invoice held absolutely no bearing to them - they were going to pay up when they were good and ready, and that was that.

Most infuriatingly, there was no apology and no reason for the lengthy delay.

I’m not the first indy worker to have experienced this total disregard - I’ve spoken to IC members who have chased payments for 5 months before receiving a penny - and I certainly won’t be the last. That said, with the help of our members, Indycube are lobbying for change. We’ve made late payments one of our key concerns to address and have even presented on this issue in Parliament. We were pleased that Phillip Hammond put a call out for evidence on late payments in the Spring Statement, and look forward to seeing further progress being made in the Autumn Budget.

Members of Indycube Community receive FREE access to legal support/advice and, in a first for freelancers, access to Invoice Factoring services at a rate of 1.4%. Let's end late payments together.