Research reveals procurement ‘postcode lottery’

New research has revealed huge variations in the time taken by different councils to pay their suppliers.

The Forum of Private Business used the Freedom of Information Act to ask local authorities across the UK how quickly they pay companies, including designers.

The research comes a year after Business Secretary Lord Mandelson urged councils to pay all firms within ten days, in order to protect small businesses during the economic crisis.

The FPB’s report shows the best performer to be Northamptonshire County Council, which settled 95 per cent of its bills within ten days. Its neighbour South Northamptonshire Council came in second, with 91 per cent.

Two local authorities – Down District Council and Argyll and Bute Council – admitted they didn’t pay any of their bills within ten days, while Larne Borough Council and Wakefield Metropolitan District Council said they only paid 1 per cent of their bills during that time.

The FPB’s national chairman Noel Guildford says, ‘These figures reveal that businesses face a postcode lottery when carrying out local authority work. Some businesses are paid for their goods and services within a few hours, but some have to wait more than a month before receiving the money owed to them – it all depends on which council they are working for.’

Most councils provided data either covering the period from September 2008 to August 2009, or for the 2008/09 financial year.

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