11 May 2009 | Jake Kanter
Government departments are failing to pay suppliers in 10 days, according to figures obtained by the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The Home Office paid only an average of 31 per cent of invoices from small suppliers within 10 days between November and March, while the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) settled 62 per cent of bills in this period.
John Mason (pictured), SNP work and pensions spokesman, obtained the figures in answer to parliamentary questions.
They also showed the Home Office paid 50 per cent of suppliers in 10 days in March, compared with 36 per cent in February, 27 per cent in January and 19 per cent in November.
The statistics were at odds with those the department provided to Supply Management in March, when it said it paid 99 per cent of "compliant invoices" on time in January and February (News, 19 March 2009).
Asked about the discrepancy, a Home Office spokesman said the latest figures only applied to invoices from SMEs and the department was committed to paying suppliers within 10 days.
The MoJ argued it fully supported the payment code, which was announced in October last year to ease cash flow pressures on SMEs.
Mason said there was no excuse for the departments' "extraordinary failure" to settle invoices on time.
"Ministers must personally take action to improve the performance of their departments and guarantee prompt payment to suppliers. It is essential in the current economic circumstances that departments make an extra effort to meet payment targets," he said.
The SNP estimated that 90 per cent of suppliers to the Scottish Government are paid in 10 days.