16 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie- Minifie
Many UK central government departments are managing to honour the pledge to pay small to medium-sized suppliers within 10 days, early data suggests.
SM asked nine departments - including the heavyweights the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Home Office - the proportion of suppliers paid within 10 days in December, January and February.
The lowest rate supplied was 77.4 per cent in December from Defra, but it said 99.4 per cent of invoices were paid within "contractual obligations".
The department's 10-day rate rose to 99.8 per cent in January and February.
For December, the Department of Health paid 95.7 per cent of invoices within the 10-day timeframe, while the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills' figure was 96 per cent.
The Home Office recorded 99 per cent for both January and February and credited investment in technology with helping it meet the commitment.
BERR - pivotal in the implementation of measures to support SMEs during the economic slowdown - paid 96.1 per cent of invoices within 10 days since October.
"Government departments have led the way by setting a 10-day target," a BERR spokesman said.
The Ministry of Defence required a Freedom of Information request to release details, while the Ministry of Justice said first-quarter figures would be published "in due course".
The 10-day government plan was announced in October last year to ease cashflow pressures on SMEs.