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Prison Service: Finance

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) payee, (b) reason for each payment and (c) amount paid to each payee was out of the total of £14,564,000 of special payments by the Prison Service referred to in the Prison Service Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08. (243584)

To provide the full listing requested would require a review of all the individual cases, which could be carried out only at a disproportionate cost. However information on special payments cases is kept at a summary level and this is shown in the following table.

Description

Number of cases paid

Value of cases paid (£)

Prisoner

Extended detention

102

239,607

Damaged property

270

14.236

Death in custody

11

108.815

Injury

255

2,176.941

Lost property

2,103

120.397

Other1

210

662.421

2,951

3,322,417

Staff

Damaged property

158

10,486

Injury

802

8,021,630

Hostage

3

315,738

Lost property

39

13,843

Other1

180

1,036,776

Tribunals

80

1,206,485

1,262

10,604,958

Third parties

Damaged property

17

17,671

Death in custody

8

258,670

Injury

46

294,494

Lost property

28

8.678

Other

47

34,075

Tribunals

2

22,710

148

636,297

4,361

14,563,672

1 The ‘Other’ cases accounting for £1.7 million in 2007-08 have very varied descriptions and do not sit easily under any one particular category, for example these include:

Prisoners—disputes over categorisation and, breach of Human Rights cases;

Staff—bank charges following non-payment of salary, termination of employment; and compensation for adverse job references;

Third parties—‘Agency’ staff dismissal, cancellation of family or solicitor visits and disputes over length of use of hire equipment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many invoices were paid late by the Prison Service incurring interest charges amounting to the £198,000 referred to in the Prison Service’s Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08; and (a) how much each invoice was for and (b) what the reason for the late payment was in each case. (243585)

During the period 2007-08, the Prison Service encountered a number of system failures in the processing of invoices. This resulted in peak of 58,000 remaining unpaid. Of the £198,000 paid during 2007-08, £177,000 relates to three suppliers, two of which are food suppliers. The main three are:

£117,011 for NH Case Ltd.: for the period November 2002 to March 2008 and in the main relate to invoices held due to price variations between the price at purchase and the price at the time of supply or failure to register the goods received in a timely manner;

£52,150 DBC Food Ltd.: not specifically an invoice but a late payment interest settlement figure calculated as part of a contract settlement amount when ending a contract with the Prison Service; and

£8,365 EDF Energy Ltd.: an amount agreed between the Prison Service and the supplier to cover late payments made by a number of prisons.

The remainder is made up of various other small amounts which are unable to be detailed in the time available to answer this question.

To alleviate some of the issues being experienced with supplier payments, an emergency team was formed that worked to clear all invoices in back log. The Prison Service now has invoices taking on average two days to process from receipt. A new procurement strategy will be rolled out in April 2009 which should result in an improved buying power and supplier relationship.