20 October 2009 | Jake Kanter
Councils in Scotland are failing to meet tough central government targets on payment times, a business group has found.
Figures obtained by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) under the Freedom of Information Act showed that none of the 30 Scottish councils questioned had settled invoices in an average of 10 days.
Some local authorities admitted having no arrangements in place to pay suppliers in that timeframe, while many said they could not measure how many bills were settled in 10 days.
Most councils reported average payment times of 30 days. The finding comes nearly a year after business secretary Lord Mandelson urged the public sector to adopt 10-day payment terms to assist vendors through the downturn.
Some of the best performing authorities included the City of Edinburgh Council, which introduced a prompt payment code earlier this year and settled 68 per cent of August invoices in 10 days. Others, such as Argyll and Bute Council stuck to standard payment times of 28 days or more.
FPB spokesman Phil McCabe said it was commendable councils settled bills in 30 days, but for many, missing the 10-day target meant the importance of prompt payment had "failed to sink in".
The findings are in stark contrast to those reported yesterday, which revealed 95 per cent of suppliers to central Scottish government had their bills settled in 10 days (news, 19 October).