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FPB quizzes councils and NHS on late payment record

Freedom of Information Act requests are being submitted to every council and health trust in Britain by the Forum of Private Business, which is asking how long each takes to pay their suppliers.
FPB quizzes councils and NHS on late payment record
The research, which entails contacting more than 700 different organisations, began on August 28 and aims to uncover exactly how many are paying their suppliers within a reasonable time.

The FPB is asking the organisations to state what their standard payment terms are and provide figures showing how many of their suppliers were paid within 10 days, 30 days or longer.

The research project comes a year after government urged councils and the NHS to commit to paying their suppliers within 10 days. The move follows recent figures released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which says, overall, central government departments are settling most invoices from their suppliers within 10 days.

The FPB says that its members are more likely to work for a council or health body, rather than a Whitehall department and as a result the FPB is keen to know exactly how long Britain's local authorities (around 470) and its 240 NHS trusts, take to pay up.

'With the recession hitting home, being paid on time can mean the difference between success and failure. The issue of late payment is a huge one for smaller businesses but many of them are reluctant to speak out about it because they are afraid of losing work', said FPB policy representative Matt Goodman.

Goodman added:'By finding out this information, we will be fighting their corner for them and putting pressure on any councils or trusts who aren't paying in good time to change their ways. But we'll also use it to highlight those who are helping small businesses in their areas by paying promptly'.

'This information should provide some highly valuable information without being too much of an administrative burden for them to retrieve', he added.

The FPB already exposes organisations that operate poor payment practices on its 'Late payment hall of shame' website.
28 August 2009

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