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Departmental Procurement

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of invoices for goods and services procured from small and medium-sized businesses were paid within 10 days of receipt by (a) his Department and (b) the agencies for which his Department is responsible in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (243353)

The commitment to pay invoices within 10 working days of receipt was made by the Prime Minister on 8 October 2008. Response to this initiative is being led by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), who advise that this applies only to central Government Departments at present and that no targets have yet been set. No data are available for prior years as there was no requirement at that time.

The performance of Government Departments in paying invoices continues to be measured against the Public Sector Payment Policy, which set a target of payment within 30 days in line with the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. The Act states that suppliers who are not paid within 30 days of the receipt of the invoice by the party billed are entitled to claim interest on the delayed payment. The Act makes no distinction between small and medium-sized businesses and other suppliers.

The Department has configured its systems to enable its performance to be measured against both the 30-day and 10-day targets from November 2008 for all suppliers, regardless of size. The first formal data collection is being co-ordinated across Government by BERR based on November statistics. 98.02 per cent. of payments made by the Department in November were made within 10 working days of receipt of the invoice.